Caturday felid, part deux

Because it’s heartwarming and involves Chicago and a mystery:

New Mexico cat lost for 8 months found in Chicago—then scores free flight home.

Those nine lives really do come in handy.

A cat from New Mexico was headed home in style Saturday – some eight months after he vanished and somehow wound up 1,300 miles away in Chicago.

The lucky tabby named Charles disappeared while in the care of a babysitter.

“I found out while I was away volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and I was so upset because I was in New Orleans so there was nothing I could do,” said owner Robin Alex, of Albuquerque.

The unlikely reunion between Alex and Charles came about when the cat with a case of wanderlust was picked up as a stray by Windy City animal control workers.

A tracking microchip embedded in Charles’ shoulder blades connected workers to Alex.

Then the stunned cat lover enjoyed the further good fortune of having an Albuquerque resident – and fellow cat owner – volunteer to pick up Charles while in Chicago for a wedding.

Lucien Sims, who also owns a tabby, got an Albuquerque company to provide a cat carrier and American Airlines waived Charles’ travel fees.

“He needs a good brushing,” said Cherie Travis, executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control.

“He’s got a little bit of a cold – a little bit of an upper respiratory infection – but otherwise he’s in great condition.”

Contest, part deux: Whoever makes up the best story of how Charles got from New Mexico to Chicago scores a free autographed paperback of Why Evolution is True.

Fig. 1. Charles the Cat.


26 Comments

  1. Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Interesting story. I don’t really know how a cat could travel that far, and still be in really good shape. But the sci-fi fan in me things maybe something along these lines:

    Charles looked outside wistfully as his human, the Alex, drove off. A week alone with this… thing. It wasn’t human. The Alex thought it was human, but it was not human. It was all wrong. The smell, the sounds… wrong, wrong, wrong.

    “Oh, Charles! Here, kitty!” called the thing. The cat glanced towards the sound of the voice, then away again. The thing was obviously stupid. Didn’t it know cats didn’t come when called? That was something only the canids did…

    A familiar sound caught the cat’s attention. One that signaled food, and attention. The can opener was whirring. Charles came running. Perhaps the thing was not so bad, after all…

    Coming into the kitchen, this train of thought evaporated as the door slammed shut behind the cat. This was wrong. The kitchen had turned from wood legs and hard rugs to a metal box with bars… a cage. Not a nice cage, either. And there was no food. The can opener was running, certainly, but there was no can in it. The Thing lifted the cage up, and smiled.
    “We know that it is you cats, not those pathetic humans, that run this world. We want to know how your mind works.”

    And so, for the next eight months, Charles disappeared from the earth. The Thing took him into the sky, and ran tests. He was fed, but not brushed. Most of the tests did not hurt, but one made his chest hurt. After a time, though, the Thing gave up.
    “I do not understand. None of this makes sense. I am not as intelligent as you, Master Charles. I will return you to the planet.”

    And so the Thing returned the cat to the ground. But, as it was not a very smart Thing, it did not remember exactly where on the earth the cat belonged. So, it went to the landing site with all the bright lights, at the coordinates where it thought it had stopped the first time. It left Charles there, on a street, saying, “You are home now. Go away, kitty.” And so the cat wandered through the streets of Chicago, looking for his Human, the Alex. Different humans picked him up, and put him in a cage for a time. Then the Implants told them who he was. They gave him to yet another human, who took him up in one of the metal sky-birds. Finally, this human gave him to a familiar human- the Alex. Charles had journeyed to the sky and across the continent, but was finally home.

  2. Dustin
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I cannot comprehend how a cat could have traveled unaided from New Mexico to Chicago by natural means. Therefore, God did it.

  3. Green
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Pussycat met Owl. Except in this story, it all went very, very, wrong. Poor lass lost her heart, head, and bearings.

  4. Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    The story is short, but elegant:

    Like Bugs Bunny, he took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

  5. Bryan
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    When I was young my cat Ceniza (Spanish for “ash,” named for her color) disappeared, presumed gone. Coyotes are common in the area and we assumed she may have encountered one too many while she was out one night.

    She reappeared outside the sliding glass door one day six months later, looking skinny but pretty good! My parents gave me this cat on my 1st birthday and she survived to be 21 yrs old. Once she was hit by a car and the driver, to his credit, brought her to our door because of the address on her collar. She had a big crack across her skull that you could feel through her fur, and a broken hip and leg. But thanks to good veterinary care she recovered.

    Anyway, we always suspected her 6 month disappearance was because she found her way into the trunk of a car, or back of a truck or something and somehow found her way home from whatever destination she had been driven to. Who knows really.

    So although I could make up a fun fictional account of Charles here, I propose that his curiosity probably got him into a little trouble. I bet he ended up exploring the recesses of a trailer or cargo truck bound for Chicago and got locked in. He probably jumped out the first chance he got, only to be very very lost. The combination of the tracking chip and the generous traveler who brought him home, make for a really great story.

  6. Sili
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know the “how”, but the “why” is easy.

    He wanted a taste of that fishapod, he’d heard so much about. And he woulda gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those pesky biologists.

  7. paul01
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    He crawled inside the carrying case of a string bass, when the Stray Cats were doing their North-South Reunion Tour. He was heard hacking inside the case from a furball. Somebody let him out, remarking that a dryer climate would do him good.

  8. Charles Evo
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, that’s easy. He prayed to Sky Cat for a trip to Chicago.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      You mean “Ceiling Cat”

      • Charles Evo
        Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Yes. I meant “He prayed to Ceiling Cat for a trip to Chicago.”

  9. Sven DiMilo
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Albuquerque to Chicago? Why, that’s the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe!

    seriously

  10. Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    He walked. Charles is the cat who walks to towns. Charles follows the hidden, secret, extra-dimensional paths that leads to different destinations without crossing the intervening space.

    So why did it take him 8 months? Cats wander.

  11. Rick T
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    The cat simply became lost on a walk one day. It became frightened by a mountain lion, ran away and jumped on some logs floating down a river. It was rescued by a fisherman and taken for a long ride before the chip was discovered and it was returned home. Of course you would not expect this catalog of events to be admitted to. If it ever got out that a catamount provoked a catastrophe in which a cataplectic cat was catapulted down the river on a catamaran making this catarrhous trip in a nearly catatonic state, and then got catawampus, heading in the wrong direction until rescued by a Catawba tribe member, it would surely be subject to severe catcalls from other cats around the neighborhood. Better to keep quiet or make up a more heroic, maybe epic tale and be in the catbird seat.

    • MadScientist
      Posted April 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      I don’t even know if there are any rivers connecting NM to Illinois; the biggest river would be the Mississippi and that ends up in Louisiana. So … if the cat initially went to the Mardi Gras and the Mississippi started flowing the other way along its entire length, then he could ride some logs to Illinois – but that still doesn’t explain how made it to Chicago, which is across the state from the Mississippi.

      • Rick T
        Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the geography lesson. I will give you a couple of clues. First, it’s a story with the point being alliteration and not a worry about much else. I should not have had to point that out.
        Second, you will note that the fisherman took him for a long ride. Since long drives are boring and tiresome, I left that part out so I could get to the alliterative summation.
        You don’t seem like a cat person because you are way too dogmatic. To a dog person the story may seem like doggerel, and to have taken a dogleg, but that’s because you don’t know cats. They do whatever they want, when they want. So if you’re going to be a dog turd, go lay in the yard.

  12. Bimston
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Report FD455-d/2
    Whereabouts of F. domesticus Charles Alex July09 – Mar10

    7.12.09
    Suspect Charles Alex observed in conjunction with ongoing felid observation operations engaged in illegal lagomorph operations. Federal judge *name redacted* issues approval of whisker-tap surveillance.

    7.16.09
    Agents on surveillance assignment spot Alex in non-designate yard interacting with unknown felid. Evidence of covert communications via conspecific vomeronasal signaling. Request for use of chemosensory decryptor pending. We suspect that Alex is engaged in negotiations for illegal predatory operations.

    7.22.09
    Federal warrant issued for search and seizure of contraband (catnip) executed at Alex residence. Approx. 33.2 g catnip seized without awaking “owners”. Felid Charles Alex was not on the premises. Capture warrant issued upon chemical confirmation of catnip.

    8.2.09
    Field patrol agents outside of Santa Rosa report tabby matching C. Alex description engaged in unlicensed murine predation outside of Santa Rosa, NM. Subject suspected headed along rt. 40. Possible connection with catnip cartel activities. Agents planted in Don Gato cartel report high “purring” in Santa Rosa area.

    10.14.09
    Trail of C. Alex remains cold. Seasoned agents picked up olfactory cues connected with suspect in Tulsa. Avian observation spots a suspicious cat gathering near Ferdinand’s Restaurant dumpsters. Subsequent investigation by ground agents found delicious food but no evidence of illegal activity. Lack of eyewitness confirmation and low “purring” in area makes assessment uncertain.

    1.03.10
    Joint task force converged on St. Louis warehouse under warrant issued by Judge Patches. Three felids apprehended (two subsequently released). 4-5 felids escape. Pawprint analysis indicates C. Alex and Fluffers Jiminez, both with outstanding warrants, are among the escapees. Subsequent chemosensory tracking (vomeronasal results still pending) indicates they may be traveling together.

    1.20.10
    F. Jiminez apprehended after stakeout of Holiday Inn alley near Springfield, Ill. Jiminez and unknown felid resist apprehension, resulting in death of felid (traffic) as well as agents Sqeakers and Whiskerman (predation). Upon bath interrogation, perpetrator indicates that C. Alex left the day before and is likely headed north.

    2.01.10
    Informant Yippers *name redacted* reports seeing perpetrator in Chicago area while on her daily walk. Subsequent raid of nearby dumpster reveals evidence of predation (avian class 1, rodent) but olfactory and gustatory analysis (feces) indicates that C. Alex had abandoned the dumpster 36-48 hours previously. Whisker-tap indicates the perpetrator may be attempting escape into Canada.

    3-11-10
    C. Alex apprehended near Rogers Park. Perpetrator was followed after purchasing a forged pet collar with catnip. After being cornered near Rogers Elementary, perpetrator engages in stand-off with authorities before attempting to leap over blockade, resulting in minor injuries to agents Peepers and Fluffykins. Perpetrator was transported to hominid residence under guardianship of cooperating feline (Franklin Meowston-Sims) to await trial.

    3.15.10
    Federal Prosecutors (Pepperbeak & Woofles) reach plea bargain with C. Alex. C. Alex will plead guilty to illegal predation, catnip possession, and predation of rodent investigators. In return for testimony against the Don Gato cartel, C. Alex will be transported back to Albuquerque and receive a sentence of 2-3 months of house arrest. Judge Nibblesworth approves and mandates use of cat harness for all outdoors activity until end of probationary period.

    • Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Hahahaha – you win; I’m not going to bother trying, after that.

      V. good.

  13. Shelldigger
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    This will keep me out of the running, but the how is easy. Said cat was snooping around the undercarriage of a Fed ex, or UPS truck, or neighbors 18 wheeler, maybe a neighbors car, who is a traveling business type. Vehicle starts up, cat freaks out and holds on for dear life. Finds itself in Chi town.

    Or maybe, the cat held a driver hostage and forced them to drive to Chicago, for reasons known only to kitty. Perhaps a sick relative or maybe had to bust its brother out of the feline prison. Perhaps we have a secret agent kitty who had to foil a terrorist plot. I think interrogation is the next step, lets find out what this cat knows.

  14. Ian
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    It’s obvious isn’t it? He went to Chicago because he couldn’t get to Europe.

  15. MJ
    Posted April 18, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Alright, I gotta get in on this.

    So, like, several billion years ago, y’know, when God was, among other things, setting up the universe in just such a way as to bring about the evolution of god-worshipping apes on some third-rate planet in the boonies, He, in His infinite wisdom, also saw fit to jigger the quantum state of the initial conditions in such a way that Charles would get from NM to Chi town.

    The exact mechanism of Charles’s drift is up to some theological dispute. Simon Conway Morris is pretty sure that God didn’t intervene on the way, only that He made the (seeming) vicissitudes of Charles’s adventure eventuate in his round trip to Chicago from the beginning of time. Ken Miller is somewhat more uncertain, and thinks God may have intervened at crucial points along Charles’s journey.

    Whatever the exact theological mechanism of Charles’s exodus, and subsequent advent, Reasonable People, such as Michael De Dora, agree that it’s OK to teach that Charles returned after 8 months, but not that he didn’t return after 3 days, because the latter is a religious idea, which must not be denied.

    Pope Benedict, nee Ratzinger, will be canonized for the miracle.

  16. KP
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Charles was gettin’ his kicks on (half of) Route 66.

  17. MadScientist
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    He’s just doing like Lewis and Clark – surveying his range. I bet he’s rather annoyed that he was stopped before he could claim Canada.

  18. Microraptor
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    He was watching the Food Network one day when they had a program on the best pizza in the country.

    Unfortunately, he never made it to Manhattan, so he can’t put it to the test.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Manhattan? No way! Brooklyn pizza outclasses Manhattan every day.

      Yo, gimme a slice!

      Oh, the cat. Crawled into the trunk of a car or onto a small or large truck.

  19. James
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    That’s simple: Infinite Improbability Drive. The side effect was a dead sperm whale.

  20. James Davies
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Is it not obvious that this story is the result of a bet between Erwin Schroedinger, Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer? Schroedinger put a cat in a box, and both Oppie and Fermi had boxes in New Mexico and Chicago. Given the probabilities involved, it’s taken this long for the bet to get resolved. But it turns out that Charles’ wave function is quite complicated, so there were some unexpected results.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] I will stop accepting entries to the “Recommended spring reading” contest and to the “How did Charles the Cat get to Chicago?” contest. Please post answers on the appropriate threads. This entry was written by […]

  2. […] Felid contest closes today. To win, all you have to do is come up with a story that explains how Charles got from Albuquerque to Chicago. Posted in entertainment, humor. Tags: cats. Leave a Comment […]

  3. […] there is a winner in the How-did-Charles-the-Cat-get-to-Chicago? contest.  Many of the entries were quite clever, but I judge Bimston‘s entry (post #12) the […]

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