"When you get home you might want to bring some cat food over here" my husband said when he called me as I was leaving work on a recent Saturday.
John is the general manager of a truck accessories store, and my first thought was that a hungry stray had found it's way there, as has happened before.
"I just saw the little orange kitten underneath the bed of my truck," he said. "It climbed up on top of the rear axle."
"Our kitten?" I asked, totally confused.
"Yes, that little stray one that showed up. He must have climbed up the wheel well of my truck and hitched a ride to work with me. I stopped for breakfast on my way and was parked there for about 45 minutes. I guess he was so scared that he stayed there the whole time."
"Oh no!" I thought to myself. He is my favorite of the outside cats, very friendly and with beautiful swirled orange markings on his sides. This is a feral cat, and not one you can just scoop up. I had no idea how we would catch him even if he could be lured out of hiding by some kitty food. I was terrified that he would take off running, and John's store is on one of the busiest streets in town. The kitten wouldn't have a chance. If it headed the other direction to the open lot behind the store, he would surely fall victim to other animals roaming there.
I sat in the drive-thru line at the bank with a heavy heart, impatiently waiting for my turn so that I could head home and grab some food, praying that somehow, someway we could catch him. Just as I completed my bank transaction, John called again. "I got him!" he said.
"You caught him?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "How?"
"I popped open the truck hood and there he was, sitting on the radiator. He must have climbed up there from the drive shaft. He was just getting ready to jump and I grabbed him. He was scared and bit my hand but I didn't let go. I was trying to hold him tight enough that he couldn't get away, but not so tight that I would strangle him. I walked back toward the store holding him with both my hands and yelled for one of the guys to let me in so I could put him in the cat trap cage we have."
I was amazed that his reactions were quick enough to nab a tiny wild kitten with his great big "bear paw" hands. I guess that comes from his years as a boy on the farm with all kinds of critters to catch. He suffered a couple of good puncture wounds from tiny kitten teeth chomping down on his hand, and also a bit of good-natured ribbing from his co-workers about his valiant efforts to rescue my kitten.
Once the wide-eyed kitten in the cage was safely loaded into my car for a return trip home, I asked John what possessed him to try to catch it. He said that he knew it was my favorite kitten, and that it wouldn't stand a chance of survival if it escaped. He couldn't bear the thought of this little guy becoming roadkill or being attacked by dogs.
Once again, my husband proves to me just how big his marshmallow heart is... and one sweet little kitten was very, very happy to be back home. I don't think he's planning any further hitchhiking adventures, in fact he is now a bit wary of both John and the truck. :-)