The text from my son flashed on my phone while I was at the gym pedaling my way to fitness on an exercise bike.
“Is this a bad time to talk?” Sam texted.
I picked up my phone and typed, “I’m almost done with my workout. Can it wait?”
A few seconds passed before he texted, “We have a situation with Walter.”
Sir Walter Scott is our 2-year-old rescue tabby. We often have “situations” with him. As the kids say, “He’s a bit spicy!”
Walter epitomizes the cartoon of a cat wearing a T-shirt that reads, “What doesn’t kill me makes me curiouser.”
Usually, his situations involve food – specifically anything involving bread or chips. Recently, I enjoyed a slice of cold pizza for breakfast. Well, I tried to enjoy it while fending off Walter’s grabby paws.
After I ate, I wadded up the foil and finished reading the Sunday paper. When I got up to take the detritus to the garbage, I couldn’t find the foil. Then I looked down the hall and followed a trail of shiny scraps to my bedroom where Walter was doggedly shredding the tightly wrapped ball in hopes of scoring a bit of crust or fragment of pepperoni.
Aluminum foil is not a healthy snack and we anxiously watched him for signs of intestinal distress, but he was fine.
A couple of days later, we had homemade sub sandwiches for dinner. Like all the young men I’ve raised, our youngest gets a bit peckish before bed. He came upstairs and made another sandwich after Derek and I had turned in. What he didn’t do was hide the last hoagie roll in the microwave or stash it in a cupboard.
I know this because in the morning when I groggily got the cats’ breakfast ready, I stepped on something wet and squishy. Stepping on wet, squishy things is just one of the joys that occur when you’re owned by cats. This time I’d stepped on the well-chewed roll, still encased in its plastic bag. It seems Walter had the midnight munchies.
The situation that prompted Sam’s urgent text, however, didn’t involve food. He’d been getting ready to clean the litter box and dropped a plastic bag nearby while he went to do something else. A few minutes later, he heard banging and crashing and ran downstairs. The plastic bag was gone, and so was Walter.
I called Sam on my way home, and he said he’d found Walter cowering under the TV cabinet with the bag wrapped tightly around his back leg. Evidently, he’d tried to rummage through it got stuck.
“He won’t come out,” Sam said. “He’s so freaked out he peed himself, and he actually hissed at me!”
We didn’t even know Walter could do that.
By the time I arrived, he was missing again.
He took off when I tugged at the bag on his leg,” Sam reported.
I discovered the terrified tabby hiding under the stairs. He didn’t run when I reached for him, but he did hiss. He’d managed to get most of the bag off his leg, and Sam and I finished freeing him and checked for damage. Walter walked a bit stiffly at first, but quickly began winding himself around our legs.
After some cleaning and cuddling, he appeared to recover – until Sam took a new bag out to finish the job he’d started. At the sound of rustling plastic, Walter bolted and ran to his safe place – under my bed.
“I think he’s got permanent plastic bag PTSD,” Sam said.
When I relayed the sorry tale on Facebook, my friends found the bright side.
“Perhaps food in plastic bags will be safe, now,” one said.
Another replied, “You could experiment with plastic-bagging those carbs just to see what happens.”
I have brilliant friends.
Will Walter’s bag phobia be stronger than his love of carbs?