Brave Little Boy   3 comments


Des & Carter Jailbreak

Destiny and Carter contemplating a jailbreak in Butte, MT

Anyone ever owned by a cat (you don’t own them, they own you) knows a truism – cats take as well to change as oil takes to water.

Destiny and Carter, our Maine Coon-mix cats, are no exceptions to this rule.

Our little girl Destiny quietly, though grudgingly, resigns herself to her fate.  Her brother Carter, on the other hand, is genuinely inhospitable to it.

A big though gentle boy, Carter thrives on routine, which to him isn’t the same as being enthralled by boredom.  Known for unusually good behavior in Bloomington, Carter figured out exactly how to convey his desires to Mom and Dad.  If whining didn’t get the message across, he resorted to jumping precisely where not allowed to go – on the dining room table.  He knows Mom and Dad think it is bad manners.  The risk of a scolding was worth it.  Eventually, Carter flopped himself on the living room carpet in exasperation as if to say, “Mom, Dad, I’m bored.”  To take the edge off, one of us would begin to play with him.

An Alpha female lives in our home and she is not me.  Destiny is the She Who Must Be Obeyed of our household.  Significantly smaller than Carter, but larger than most cats, Des easily holds her own while tussling with him.  Pound for pound, she is the stronger of the two.

Destiny is fearless and confident.  Carter has more neuroses than a Woody Allen movie.

Since Day One in our home just over 10 years earlier, this was the drill.

For the first few days of the drive across Minnesota, North Dakota and most of Montana, Des and Carter were quiet.  Mostly, they slept.  In motels, they perched on window ledges or became bed potatoes.  The two took most of the ordeal in stride until we hit the mountains.

Little kids don’t like traveling through mountains.  Big feline purrballs, I suspect, don’t like it for the same reason – elevation changes make their little ears pop.

Occasionally on the road, one or both burst into fits of meowing – presumably the feline equivalent to, ‘are we there yet?”

Then we hit Butte.

Stopovers along the route were exclusively at Super 8 motels.  This was almost an adventure; Paul and I never ever stayed in a Super 8 during previous road trips.  Then again, we were never on this thin a shoestring budget, nor traveling with Destiny and Carter.  Super 8’s advantage was inexpensive rates coupled with pet friendliness throughout the chain.

We never knew what we would find at the next Super 8.  Unlike competitors like Motel 6 or AmericInn, Super 8 motels lack uniform room layouts and amenities.  Every one we stayed in was clean.  Otherwise, they were a crapshoot.  Some had refrigerators in rooms or shower stalls instead of shower and tub enclosures.  Sometimes sinks were located in the bath and tub area, sometimes in a dressing area.  Sometimes we found one sink, other times two.

Traveling with pets while staying at Super 8 is easy.  At check-in, guests inform the desk of the number and types of pets, pay a refundable deposit, and Bob’s your uncle.  Their lone requirement is that critters must be confined when left unattended.

Butte’s Super 8 was a different matter.  They asked to see Des and Carter before allowing us to take the room.

Puzzled, we transferred Des and Carter from their travel kennel to their carriers and headed for the office, where they were presented to the front desk staff to see.

“Awwwww…how sweet!” cooed two women in unison behind the desk.  “They’re so cuuuuuuute!”

I am convinced this was their way of curing cuteness fever on a dreary late winter day in Butte.

Destiny and Carter lavished in their attention as we completed the check-in.

As usual, Des and Carter behaved well in the room.  Destiny opted to watch comings-and-goings from the vantage point of the windowsill while Carter played bed potato next to Paul.

The following morning, Carter was nowhere to be found.  We called him.  No response.

He couldn’t escape from the room between bedtime and morning; neither of us went out.  He had to be somewhere within that tiny room.

Paul crawled onto the floor and searched under both beds.

Unlike the other Super 8s visited on the trip, this one lacked platforms beneath the bed frame.  Paul was about to give up when he saw a large tear in the underside fabric of the box spring and a bulge near it.  He reached out to touch the bulge inside the tear.  It felt like soft warm downy fuzz.

Carter huddled inside the box spring and would not be coaxed out.

Paul tried to reach in and grab Carter to no avail.  Carter moved deeper into the box spring.  Paul could not pull him out without hurting him.  Getting Carter out safely required lifting the mattress and box spring off its frame to extract him.

Your ‘son’,” I chided Paul mockingly.

“He’s not my ‘son’,” Paul retorted.  “My ‘son’ is a good boy.”

There was only one thing to do:  request help from the front desk.  Probably busy with check-outs and replenishing the Continental breakfast bar, they didn’t answer the phone.

I walked across the motel to the front desk.  Embarrassed, I pleaded for help.

By the time I got back to the room, someone from the front desk called Paul, assuring him help was fast on the way.

Within minutes, a man from maintenance knocked on our door.  Paul explained what had to be done.

Together the two pulled the bed away from the wall before stripping away the bedspread and top mattress.  Afterward, the maintenance guy looked under the bed to find Carter.  “He’s a big one,” he proclaimed upon seeing the huddled bulging lump.

“Nothing to fear,” I said.  “He won’t hurt you.  He’s just scared.”

The maintenance man called the front desk.  “You didn’t tell me it was a big one,” he laughingly chided the front desk clerk.

The maintenance guy lifted one end of the box spring off the frame so Paul could reach in and snatch our furry quarry.  Carter curled himself into a tight and very heavy little ball as he resisted rescue from his newfound hiding place and into Paul’s arms – quite a feat for a nearly 15 lb. Maine Coon mix.

Our brave little boy.

To circumvent another rescue operation, Des and Carter were unceremoniously loaded into their carriers.  The jig was up.  They were not pleased.

The room looked like it was trashed by a 1970s era rock band.

At check-out, I was informed the on-duty manager needed to inspect our room before green-lighting our pet deposit.  Although the rip in the box spring did not appear fresh, I was sure we would forfeit the money.  By this time, the entire motel staff knew about the maintenance man’s encounter with Carter.

The manager, having already seen the messed-up room and the hole in the box spring, gave the deposit back.

With our fearless little girl and brave little boy in tow, we headed to Missoula.

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Posted July 30, 2011 by noslenca9300 in Cats, Montana, Travel

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3 responses to “Brave Little Boy

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  1. When I was moving to Los Angeles and driving my two cats, I had a similar thing with one of my cats – she wedged herself between the platform bed front and the wall and I had a time getting her out of there.

    On the other days I made sure to wedge pillows in such cracks and she would hide under the overhanging mattress on the side behind the bedcover untl she had settled down enough to eat and relax.

  2. Cats are something else. I can only imagine what the room looked like when you were leaving! I had a time when my cat Oreo wanted to be outside. We, my ex and I put him on a leash. Kurt promised to watch him as I went inside to do chores. He didn’t! The cat found an opening somehow under the wooded deck and went under. Kurt wasn’t securing the leash onto anything and let Oreo go as he pleased. Well he got the leash caught between to pieces of wood under the deck. Kurt had to use a wire hanger to get the leash undone from the wooden slats and then spray the deck with water scaring Oreo out from underneath. Kurt said once again he would watch him as I protested to bring him in so I could try to wash him. He didn’t! The cat proceeded to head towards the woods in the backyard and got sprayed by a skunk! Together we tried to get the stench out of him but it was useless. It took a couple of weeks for him to smell somewhat normal. Unfortunately he passed away from a bladder infection and few years later. The cat that is, not the ex husband. Oh well!

  3. After reading this entry, my husband reminded me that Destiny, our intrepid explorer, was the first to find the little hiding place, The key difference is that Des is usually the easier of the two to coax out of hiding. Shake a treat pouch or catnip jar – she’s so there. She climbed up there the night before and was easily lured out. To our surprise, she stayed out.

    Carter could care less about the treat pouch. Treats don’t move him. Destiny always claims his leftovers. Carter is better lured by waving his Cat Dancer or the catnip jar. We tried both that morning. He wouldn’t budge.

    Back somewhere in either Minnesota or North Dakota, Destiny also found her way into the torn back of a chair. We moved it against the wall. It stayed there unmolested without further issue.

    Our hope was that Carter, the less likely to wander and explore, would never find the hiding spot beneath the box spring. He proved us wrong!

    Des is legend for discovering and claiming hiding places. She regularly opened *every* track door closet in our former Bloomington home without effort. I swear at least once she tried to teach Carter how to do it (thank goodness the silly putz never remembered).. Few spots were safe from her. She learned how to open my dresser drawers by walking them back using the hand grips. (It’s is an impressive feat; those drawers were fully loaded with heavy sweaters and sweatshirts.) Destiny also taught herself how to open the drawers on our water bed’s platform – and figured out how to hide behind those drawers. Almost as impressive as dresser drawer skills is her ability to jump onto overhead shelves in clothes closets unreachable by me, sending her “unwanted” clutter to the floor and creating a cozy nest with the remnants.

    Old Cat: I shall make note of your pillow-stuffing advice for future use. We hope, however, to never again subject Des and Carter to such a road trip.

    Maxine: I cannot imagine dealing with a skunky, smelly cat for weeks. Phew!

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