1 down, 8 to go

We’ve developed a mornng routine over the last few weeks. When the sun comes up, Bosco comes thumping down the stairs, hops over our heads, settles on the boxes on the shelf behind the bed and purrs loudly, filled with pride at his night full of exploits.

Recent exploits have included “scaring away a fox,” “jumping sylph-like from boat to boat” and “scaring off the other cats to become King of the Moorings,” so he always has something to tell us.

Which is why it was a surprise when he was a no-show this morning. So at about 4:30 I poked my head up into the wheelhouse, expecting to see him snoozing on the sofa up there. Oh well, I tried to convince myself, he’s still out `splorin’ and he’ll be back when he’s hungry. I’d already been out twice the night before tracking him down when I had a bad feeling, and Melissa is starting to call me paranoid. So I went back to bed and dozed for a while, keeping one ear open for the sound of a relatively graceless cat thudding back in through the open wheelhouse window.

By 6 I was getting really worried – and was that a meow I just heard? So I threw on my dressing gown, fully expecting to see him catching sun on the roof, and trundled off to look for him. First positive sign: pawprints in the dew on deck, obviously he’d been around since sunup. First negative sign: The unholy wailing coming from under the collar barge next to us. I managed to squeeze into a position where I could look down and sure enough, a very bedraggled Bosco was literally hanging on for dear life. Only the top half of him was out of the water and we know how cold that river is. He was panicking and yelling and even when I called him I don’t think he knew what was going on any more.

The next few minutes is a bit of a blur. Fortunately he’d given us some warning that he was Captain Clumsy of the Klutz Corps by nearly taking a dip last week, which prompted me to go to Decathlon and buy the biggest, sturdiest fishing net they sell. I ran for it – barefoot, nearly slipping in the river myself – and ran back, extending it to full stretch as I went.

If you’ve ever tried to net a panicking cat with a seven foot pole out of fast-flowing water, you’ll know exactly what happened next. At full extension, the pole wasn’t strong enough to hold his weight, so it bent, leaving him back at square one. I decided I couldn’t do it myself so I ran back to give Melissa a rude awakening. I definitely used some bad words in describing the situation. She came flying out, grabbing a barge hook on the way.

When we got back to the end of the collar barge, Bosco’s howling had woken up the new neighbour’s kids, who were watching the situation with concern. I managed to get under the walkway between two collar barges (this is suicidally dangerous, never do it) and use the now five-foot pole to try and net him again. Fortunately this time it held and with Melissa’s help I was able to get him safely out of the water. From the noises he was making, being in the net was not a significantly better option.

We got him back inside and started towelling him down:
Melissa dries off the Incredible Shrinking Cat

He was so exhausted and traumatised at this point that he wasn’t even Bosco. I’ve never seen a cat so tired that his tail is literally limp, but his was so lifeless I was worried he’d broken a vertebra on the way down. Every so often as we had to move him he’d howl five or six times and start trembling again. I don’t know how long he was in the water, but he was cold. It took us a good two hours to get him even close to properly warmed up again.

While he's not protesting about being picked up, I say take advantage

It took plenty of grooming (to make the fur dry faster) and liberal application of the hairdryer and electric blanket, but finally about 8am he had the strength to crawl into his Safe Place under the bed and stay there for a couple of hours licking his (luckily metaphorical) wounds. He must have been starving because he was so busy snapping cat treats out of my fingers that he chomped into my thumb and drew blood. Never mind biting the hand that feeds you, trust Bosco to bite the hand that drags you out of a freezing river and then feeds you.

Back to life after a session with the 'fro pick

- posted by James O'Brien on 11 July 2008, 16:00 in