It was a normal morning at Tabby’s Place. I was on the early morning rounds, feeding the kitties and giving them meds. When we do morning or evening rounds, we always do a head count to make sure everyone is accounted for and doing okay. I entered Suite C with my clipboard and began the morning head count. Natasha…check. Hootz…check. This continued through 12 of the 13 cats in residence in the suite.
I was having problems finding Winter.
I wasn’t too concerned at first. Cats have hidden from me before for a few minutes at a time, but they’ve always reappeared.
After 10 minutes of searching, I was getting worried. I mean, there are only so many places a cat could be! I went to find Denise, and she joined the search. Fifteen minutes later, with us both searching, there was still no Winter.
We tore apart Suite C. No Winter. We searched all the other suites, just in case someone had let him go into the wrong room. No Winter. After 45 minutes of searching and still no Winter, we were VERY concerned. By now, our volunteers were arriving for the morning shift, and they helped search. No Winter. The only logical thing we could think of was that he had somehow gotten up into the drop ceiling from the top of the ramp. We got ladders, raised tiles and looked from all different points in the building. No Winter.
We set a Havahart® trap and hoped beyond hope that Winter was up there and that we would catch him. We kept checking up in the ceiling during the day, but no Winter. By late afternoon it was time for evening rounds, and still our boy had not been found. We were so worried, and the mood at Tabby’s was bleak. Denise and I decided that we would finish our PM rounds, then stay as long as it took to find him. We would walk the beams up in the ceiling through the whole building if we had to, but we were not leaving without Winter!
Halfway through rounds, I was walking through the lobby and noticed some of the cats in Suite C near the top of the ramp. They were all sniffling the ceiling!
As I ran around to the suite I saw Denise and excitedly babbled, “He must be there, Winter MUST be there, the cats know he’s there!” We both ran to the Suite, and…well, that’s when it got really crazy!
Denise lay on the ramp (there’s just enough space for a human to lay flat at the top of the ramp) and I stood up on a ladder. We were both raising tiles and peering up to see if we could spot Winter. I looked over at Denise and barely got out a “NOOOOoooOOOooooooooo!” before little Monkey (whose name is perfect for him) jumped over Denise’s head and into the ceiling! Denise made a grab for him, but Monkey was gone.
Now, I’m told the fastest thing in the universe is the speed of light (which travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second). The fastest manmade thing on Earth is an unmanned aircraft, the X-43, which can achieve a speed of Mach 9.8 or 7,460 mph. Well, neither of these things could touch the speed with which Denise made it up into the ceiling and took off running after Monkey. She caught him quickly and returned him to his Suite.
While we were finishing rounds, one of our super wonderful volunteers helped us prepare for our adventure in the ceiling by emptying Suite C of all its cats (to prevent any more Monkey incidents).
We finished rounds, squeezed our way up the ramp, pushed away the tile at the top and pulled ourselves into the dark, dark ceiling.
“I can’t see a thing,” I yelled down to our volunteer at the bottom of the ramp. “It’s soooo dark”.
“Hang on,” she said; “I’ve got a great app on my phone that is a really bright flashlight.” She handed me the phone, and, voila! we could see clearly.
We carefully climbed over beams, around beams, and under beams. It seemed like a never-ending space up there. I was walking behind Denise and lighting the way with our awesome light when, suddenly, she cried triumphantly: “I SEE HIM!!”
I looked over into a far corner, and indeed our Winter was there! Now, if only he would let us catch him. Winter can be a scaredy-cat at times, and we hoped he wouldn’t bolt away and hide again. We approached slowly, cooing and sweet-talking him. He didn’t move and Denise grabbed him. Yeah Winter! :) Happy dance…but not until you’re safely off the thin beams.
We put Winter in our hospital room for the night so we could make sure he ate well and was doing okay. Then we went back to Suite C and, armed with as many big rocks as we could carry, we went about putting the rocks on top of the tiles so they would be too heavy for the cats to lift up. No more ceiling cats!
We are delighted to have Winter back where he belongs, safely in his Suite. What a story he must have shared with all the cats when he returned. I’m sure he had a good laugh telling them about the crazy humans who were trying to balance on 2 inch beams!