When our friend Arlin was in the midst of rehabilitating and rehoming more than two dozen cats whose loving owner had died two years earlier, we urged her to advertise them on Facebook. The first cat she posted, a charming little Manx named Tinkerbell, seemed perfect for our household. I was interested in a second cat, Mr. Tippy, but Tom thought that bringing another male cat into our household would be too much trouble and, reluctantly, I agreed.
Tom was going to drive down to the Bay Area to pick up Tinkerbell from Arlin. She went up to Orland (the town where the cats lived in an empty house) to get Tinkerbell and another cat, an orange female, who was to be adopted by another friend in Seattle.
Arlin called me from Orland and said she had Mr. Tippy and wouldn’t I like him as well? He wouldn’t be any trouble, she said.
I said yes.
And that’s where the whole $38,000 Tale of Mr. Tippy begins.
In addition to Arlin, her husband, Michael, and us, the saga involved two Wiccans, a federal judge, a mobile Honda repair person, Tom’s ex-girlfriend, several contractors, our heating company, our electrician, Seattle Animal Control, our vet, the family that tried to adopt the orange cat (see Perdita’s story), the local emergency vet, Swedish Hospital, our State Farm Insurance agent, and a dozen friends and neighbors. Four people were bitten by cats—including me.
Here’s how it all went down. (From our point of view. Mr. Tippy still refuses to talk about it, and soon you’ll see why.)
2015: MEET Mr. Tippy
The Trip Back from California
March 1, 2015—Facebook post—URGENT REQUEST: Cottage Grove OREGON — Do you know an individual with tools who could help rescue a cat stuck in a tight place? The cat is not doing well and may be in respiratory distress. My partner is in Oregon with the cat, I’m in Seattle. He has talked with PD, FD, etc. and, with the exception of 911, they are out for the weekend. It’s a small town, no animal rescue. We need socket wrenches to get the cat out, and…it’s a long story, but…please contact me via Facebook if you can help.
**UPDATE** We now have two sources of assistance headed to help Tom and the cat in Cottage Grove. Thank you all very much!
**UPDATE** Cat has been freed and seems OK (physically at least). Pictures at 11. Again, thank you to everyone. John Hedtke and Marilyn Mauer are our heroes.
March 2, 2015—Facebook post—While new-cat Tinkerbelle settles in to our TV room with much purring and cuddling, Mr. Tippy has…disappeared. Again. Without doing anything loud or invasive, we’ve searched the TV room thoroughly, cubic foot by cubic foot. No Mr. Tippy. And yet, the cat must be…somewhere—if only in the ceiling.
So, I have take an old laptop, an old XBoxLive USB camera, and a 30-day demo of SecuritySpy software, and set up a web-served “Tippycam” in the TV room. It is trained on the cat food dish and the litterbox. We can watch from any web-connected device, so Tippycam is running in the background on our computers, and I have it on my iPad. I drafted my mom, in Florida, to monitor the TIppycam in the early morning hours when we’re asleep, the house is quiet, and Tippy is most likely to emerge from wherever he is hiding.
Now…we wait. If only I could train our upstairs cats, Zoe and Sheba, to monitor the Tippycam and meow…
March 4, 2015—Facebook post—The search for Tippy continues. Today’s excitement: Furnace company coming to dismantle ductwork in ceiling of basement…Four bookcases have been packed into boxes and moved.
March 6, 2015—Facebook post—I have mixed feelings about being out here on the Olympic Peninsula at writing retreat while Mr. Tippy (one of the two new cats) is still missing and Tom is at home coordinating the search, which has moved deeper into the walls. Tom’s doing everything that can be done, and we check in when phone reception allows. But I feel very sad.
March 12, 2015—We were distracted from the hunt for Mr. Tippy by the not-unexpected death of our amazing deaf white cat, Sheba the White Tornado, from kidney disease.
March 16, 2015—Facebook post—The Hunt for Mr. Tippy, Day 14. We’ve been told to check the stuffing and interiors of all our sofas and chairs. We ripped apart the old hideabed in the basement, and now are carefully checking the underside of our leather Dania couch in the living room. Sure enough, the loose-weave fabric that covers the hollow interior beneath the seating area had been pulled off on one corner, enough to allow a cat to slither inside. So we ripped off the rest of the webbing and found this:
Twenty-five cat toys…and one quarter. Apparently our cats have been systematically tucking toys up into the sofa. For years. We found one feather toy, 8 mice, 8 crinkle toys, and 7 handmade catnip-filled puffs. What’s mysterious is that Zoe (our big tabby) is the one who plays with puffs. But her sister Kaylee (the small tabby we lost last year) was the one who fetched and carried crinkle toys. Did they collaborate on this project? Sheba (our big white cat, who died just a few days ago) didn’t play with toys, yet there was a lot of white fur near the hiding place. Was this some household-wide feline conspiracy? Now that Kaylee and Sheba are gone, we’ll have to see if Zoe tries to hide any more toys…
Oh, BTW, there was no sign of the still-elusive Mr. Tippy.
<TO BE CONTINUED>
2016: Mr. Tippy Settles In
Feb. 26, 2016—Mr. Tippy has been deeply traumatized by the application of ear medicine. We did one ear, and then, somehow, he was gone—managing, as he fled, to throw the medicine container (and its lid), and all four cotton-ball applicators onto the floor. He has not been seen since. Tinkerbell ate his dinner.
2022: YEAR 7
Feb. 22, 2022—Mr. Tippy came through his radioactive iodine treatment successfully and is perhaps just a bit less hyper. He can now sit still on my desk for several minutes without walking across the keyboard and activating iTunes.
March 4, 2022—Mr. Tippy likes to bed down on books or piles of paper.We think he found the right household.