The Misadventures of Isabel

Isabel is one of our non gourmet cats.

As you may recall from my earlier blog, “Joey’s World,”  a non gourmet is an ordinary house cat. A gourmet cat is a breed, such as Siamese or Himalayan.

Finding Isabel

Isabel joined our family after Hurricane Isabel in 2003.   Harold and I went out for our early morning jog the day after the hurricane. The sky was blue, the torrential rains and heavy winds already a distant memory.

We were a half mile down the road when a white tabby kitten came running out of the deep woods, bellowing like a pack of wild dogs were on her tail.

I bent down and called to the kitten. No hesitation.

She came straight to me and practically jumped into my arms.  I cradled her and carried her back to our house. She never once wiggled, clawed, or tried to escape, even though a few cars and trucks zipped past.

At the time, we already had a full household of cats. We intended to bring the kitten to the shelter when it opened later that day.

The Waif

The kitten reminded me of the waif alley cat paintings from the sixties, the paintings where the cats have enormous eyes, just begging you to take them home. That comparison was a bad omen.

I carried the kitten into our garage and went to get her food, water, and a box. They say that if you feed a cat, it is yours. She ate everything. She used the box without any cues from me, although she had a few problems. We speculated that she had been eating twigs.

A little later that morning, my oldest daughter headed for the garage to check on the kitten.  She only got as far as the back door of the house when she called me over.  There was the kitten in the garage window!  She had climbed up on the woodpile and was looking at us.  We could see her little mouth opening with a pleading ‘meow,’ even though we could not hear her from where we stood.

Part of the Family

We did not take her to the shelter.

She became Isabel, our little lady.  She was very dainty, even though she loved to eat. She only weighed about six or seven pounds.  She had a crush on Tyler, our Himalayan gourmet, and pursued him without relent.  She loved to play and had a favorite catnip pillow that kept her busy for hours.  She charmed her way into all our hearts, well, almost all our hearts.

Joey’s Tricks

Joey was not happy.

Remember Joey, the chosen one. Well Joey decided that he liked life better before she came. It was fall and heating season. One morning we woke up and Joey had removed the vent from the living room floor and quite literally stuffed Isabel down the heating vent. I ran to turn the heat off.

Harold thought he would have to open up the heating vent to rescue her when we heard a noise in the back bedroom at the other end of the house. Isabel was pushing on the vent and up she came, all dusty, but safe.

Harold put screws in all the heating vents that day. Joey continued to pry at the vents, but he soon gave up.

A few years went by

Isabel had been diagnosed with a heart problem. We delayed getting her fixed until she developed a condition that meant she had to have surgery. Her heart was stable and she survived the surgery.  Unfortunately, she began to put on weight.


I tried smaller portions, lite cat food, but nothing worked. She still gained weight. Harold and I joked about her nickname of ‘little lady.’ Isabel still loved to play, and got more exercise than all the other cats together, but she blossomed out to fourteen – fifteen pounds.

Joey Strikes Again

I recently did some fall cleaning and did not bother to put the screws back in the heating vents. I reasoned that Joey had left the vents alone, and besides, Isabel would not fit down them anymore.

Or so I thought.

Harold and I woke up yesterday morning and it was an instant replay of that morning years before.  It was cold during the night so the heat was running.

We found the living room vent lying on its side. I ran to the back bedroom. That room is now the ‘Forbidden Room.’  The door is kept shut and the cats are not allowed in because they do bad things when they go in there and Harold has to listen to me ‘grumble’ as I clean up the mess.

The vent in the ‘Forbidden Room’ was lying on its side, and there was Isabel on the spare bed, sound asleep!  I grabbed her and smothered her with hugs and kisses.  How she ever made it through the vents at her size, I will never know!

Joey sat on the living room rug looking rather disgruntled.  He stuffed Isabel down the vent and thought he had gotten rid of her.  I went over to Joey and shook my finger at him, and then bent down to touch his head.

I said, “Joey, you do not realize that Isabel came to us as a special gift, and that special gifts are treasures not easily taken away.”

Joey looked up at me with that glint in his golden eyes.  He snapped his tail once, and stalked away, without glancing back.

I think Harold will be putting the screws back in the vents.