Cats do the darndest — make that the damnedest — things

Columnist December 22, 2013

I promised more cat tales — stories of some feline’s inscrutable death wishes — and here they are. I’ve thrown in a few dog tales, too.

Alice L. Moskowitz’s daughter Becky once bought a kitten they named Pasha. Because the kitten was so little, everyone was mindful of where she was before leaving the house. Once, Becky’s family was ready to go somewhere but couldn’t find her.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

“After a fruitless search of about 20 minutes, they decided to re-enact what each had been doing before they intended leaving,” wrote Alice, of Arnold, Md. “Success! When the refrigerator door was opened, she leaped out of the bottom shelf in the door.”

Shirley Brothwell’s Siamese cat, Leo, is the yang to Pasha’s yin. One day Shirley and her mother were doing the laundry while chatting. Remembered Shirley: “We closed the door on the dryer, turned it on, and started to leave the laundry room, but paused because of a tremendous thudding sound in the dryer.”

They opened the door and out stumbled Leo, unharmed.

When Caroline M. Lamphier’s daughter Halley first visited Caroline’s newly constructed Delaware beachhouse, she brought along her recently rescued kitty, Fields. The house was almost done, just missing covers for the heating and air-conditioning vents in the floor.

Fields was to stay in the closed sunroom, where boxes had been placed over the vents. “My daughter awoke later to find the cat in her bedroom and assumed that someone had let him out by accident,” Caroline wrote. “He was placed back in the sunroom and the door carefully secured. Sure enough, a while later she was awakened with whiskers in her face and Fields standing over her.”

Fields had moved a box and gone exploring. Wrote Caroline, of Laytonsville, Md.: “He apparently traveled over 50 feet through the ducts, avoiding branches that dropped to lower and upper levels, and arrived in her bedroom — twice! This confirms my long held opinion that cats are some of nature’s best work!”

Tell that to Alan Crane of Silver Spring. One night he and his wife woke to acrid white smoke billowing up the stairwell accompanied by their cat, Thomas, “who looked as worried as a furry-face cat can,” Alan wrote.

Alan went down to investigate. The toaster oven on the kitchen counter was red hot. Fused to it were a partially melted plastic salad dryer and a similarly deformed plastic cider jug.

After they’d vented the house, the Cranes reconstructed what had happened: “Thomas had jumped up onto the counter (which he wasn’t supposed to do, but he was a cat) knocking over the jug which fell against the oven, holding down the toast handle. That kept the oven on full blast, melting the salad dryer and partially melting the cider jug. It made for a very interesting display when we put it out for the garbage collection.”

Of course, dogs can be just as vexing. Jamie O’Connor and her husband, Brendan, are bartenders. They’re often tipped in cash — cash that inevitably smells of food and booze. Not long after they’d gotten Sky, their husky puppy, they counted out their tips onto the coffee table — $1,100 in all. Then Brendan went into the bedroom to change and Jamie went into the kitchen for a glass of water.

Jamie returned in two minutes, just in time to spot Sky scarfing down the last $20 bill of their rent money.

“After following her around with a poop bag for two days we found out cash gets digested almost completely,” Jamie wrote. “Needless to say we worked an insane amount of doubles to recoup our loss and buy a dog crate.”

Phyllis Taylor once found herself mortified by her Jack Russell terrier, who, in family tradition, was named after a Hollywood character: Honey West, the fictional female lead of a TV detective show from the 1960s.

One spring day, Honey was basking on the front lawn when a jogger entered the Taylors’ Rockville cul-de-sac. The dog leapt up to investigate: barking, wagging her tail and putting her paws on the jogger.

“I saw this outside the kitchen and didn’t want him to trip over her,” Phyllis wrote, “so I went to the door and called her: ‘Honey, Honey, come here! Honey, come here now — come on.’”

The man jogged in place, looked down at the dog, looked back up at Phyllis and then said, “I’ll be back in about an hour!” before jogging off.

Wrote Phyllis: “Now, when we call her out the door, we say, ‘Honey Dog — come here.’ ”

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Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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