Originally posted October 23, 2008, this story has remained the most-read post on my blog ever since. Since I have some new readers lately, I thought I would re-post it. So here it is, along with the follow-up, for your reading enjoyment. Thanks, Britany

A few days ago, I saw this nasty rat run out of the garage so I called the pest control guy to come eliminate the problem.  He came yesterday morning and made me feel much better by telling me I do not appear to have any in the attics or the house – just the garage.  Whew!

Yesterday afternoon, I went to get our oldest child from school in the pouring rain and when I came home, opened and closed the garage door quickly since the temperature was dropping.  We all paraded into the house and didn’t leave again for several hours.  All I can figure is that it was when we got home from picking him up that the animal got in the garage.

So when Daddy called and asked if we wanted to eat dinner at Double Dave’s we were IN!  The boys paraded out into the garage (as normal).  The scene is still clearly in my mind.  Middle child was standing by the car, oldest was by the door to the house and youngest was standing on the stool by the button to the garage door, just about to open it (waiting on my permission).  The door to the house was open and middle said, in a normal-sounding voice “Mommy, look – an animal!”  All I could see was gray fur.  And the size?  Bigger than a rodent.  Then it turned and I saw a long tail.  Oldest said “It’s a cat!” and that’s when I said, probably not as calmly as I should have “EVERYONE GET INSIDE!  NOW!  MIDDLE CHILD, GET OVER HERE NOW!”

The boys ran into the house while I slammed the door, then thought twice and cracked the door open just enough to press the garage door opener.  I figured that the animal would run out.  Beyond that?  No plan.  So I called Hubs.  His answer?  Get the PLASTIC SWORD off the island and check out the garage.  Great.  I’m now headed out into the garage to face what could potentially be one of the ROUS’s (for those of you who haven’t seen The Princess Bride, shame on you!  Also, that stands for Rodents of Unusual Size).

As I beat around the garage with my plastic sword, nothing emerged so I was cautiously optimistic.  I got the boys into the car quickly, then wheeled out into the alley, shutting the garage door as we left.  At this point, oldest child yells “WATCH OUT MOMMY THERE ARE PEOPLE BACK HERE.”  As if my nerves weren’t already frazzled enough.

After slamming on the brakes and losing all 18 tubes of lipstick when my purse fell over, I saw a man and his little girl at the other end of the alley.  ‘I dumped my purse out for this? ‘ was my first thought.  My second was ‘Maybe they’re out looking for their missing gray cat, the one that’s been in my garage the last few hours.’ Hey, at least I got there, okay?!!

I rolled down my window and watched the look of astonishment on the man’s face as I described the incident in my garage.

Since I’m not great at using quotation marks, here’s the gist of the conversation:

Yes, it was their cat!  He was out looking for it, as a matter of fact!  Well, actually it was his wife’s cat, and you shouldn’t let your kids too close to it because it is, in fact, a pretty unfriendly cat.  Thank you and I’ll walk down the alley toward your house and look for it.

In retrospect, I should have given him my phone number.  Or perhaps my name.  But I was too busy telling this total stranger about how I thought his gray cat was a ROUS.  No, I didn’t really use the acronym but I did in fact tell him that I thought his cat was a large rat.  He didn’t laugh.  But then again, he appeared to be a Longhorn.  Which totally explains everything. (Sorry Cathy – couldn’t pass it up!)

The Rest of the Story

Yesterday, I wrote about a Totally Blogworthy Event.  Today, I will tell you “The rest [dramatic pause] of the story”.

This morning, hubs took oldest child to school which meant the minivan sat in the garage most of the day.  Late this morning, I had a reason to walk into the garage and immediately, I noticed some things out of place.  Strange.  I had this weird feeling that something wasn’t right when [insert loud, scary scream] I see the animal, now known as the brownish-grayish cat, staring at me from atop the shelves off to my right.  Yes, you read that right – that darn cat spent the night in our garage!

The good news?  We probably don’t have a mouse problem anymore.

The bad news?  Now we have a cat problem.

I (once again) opened the garage door so the cat could escape then darted inside to figure out what to do.  I tried looking up the phone number for our new neighbors but alas, they only listed an email address.  What’s a frantic person to do? Email her of course.  But then, it dawns on me – not everybody lives and breathes by that “ding!” on the computer that says “You’ve got mail!”  That MAY just be me.  Maybe.

Next on my list of things to try – pick up the cat and carry it over to the new neighbor’s home.  I figured, what better way to meet the new neighbor than to show up with her missing cat? All I had to do was catch it, which shouldn’t be a problem since it seemed to like us, or at least our garage.

The cat had now sauntered out of the garage and was wandering around toward the yard.  I got as close as I dared than spoke to the cat.  I did, after all, grow up on a farm.  I like to think I am something of a cat whisperer.  Yeah right.  That ugly mass of gray fur hissed at me and then headed straight for me.  I couldn’t tell what it’s intentions were, exactly – UNTIL IT TRIED TO BITE ME!!!  Then I was pretty sure it was hostile.

At this point, I may or may not have stood straight up and tried to kick the ungrateful thing, yelling “GO HOME” and pointing toward the alley.  It was undaunted.  It wanted back into my garage.

There was only one thing to do – I had to go tell the neighbors.  So with a barefooted 3 year old on my hip and middle child in tow, I headed across the field to meet the neighbors.  Neighbor, along with their dog (NAMED BEVO), answered the door.  She was worried sick about the cat.  She was up all night worrying about her.  The cat had never been outside before.  (I assured her the cat spent the night inside our warm and comfy garage.)  She wanted to go after the cat, but the new baby was asleep upstairs, and her little girl was watching TV.  I offered to stay with the kids while she went, and she was very happy to go.  So she locked BEVO in the bedroom and took off across the field.

I wasn’t there long enough to take pictures with my cellphone, but I totally wish I had.  Her house was BEAUTIFUL!!!  Stunning.  And – here’s the shocker – clean.  I mean, they just moved in like a month or so ago – and then HAD A BABY – and there was no clutter anywhere.  There were not even any dirty dishes present on the kitchen counter.  What kind of crazy mixed up place is this? I wondered.  That’s about how long I had to contemplate, since immediately after arriving at this stranger’s home, my 3 year old declared he needed to go potty.  I figured he just wanted to snoop around her house but I also figured that between that and wetting all over her brand new couches, a little snooping was in order.

While youngest child was in the bathroom, the baby woke up.  Funny thing was that I could hear him on the baby monitor but had no earthly idea where he was.

I tried asking the little girl but all she knew was “Baby crying.  Baby crying.”  Yeah, kid, I got that.

I tried to imagine which would be worse – the neighbor coming home to find me wandering aimlessly around her house or coming home to me sitting on the couch, listening to the baby on the monitor.  I decided to at least try to appear attentive.  I went up the stairs and there he was, the most beautiful baby I have ever laid eyes on, lying in the most beautiful crib I have ever seen.  In a fabulous house.  With no clutter.  Yeah, I’m not jealous or anything.

So down I came with the baby in my arms when I saw my youngest, pants and underwear down around his ankles, waddling back from the bathroom.  Having faced this scenario before, I was actually able to lean over and help him pull up his pants without ever putting the baby down.  We were just snapping up when new neighbor got home, kitty in arms.  She was ever so grateful and as I wanted to leave her with those warm fuzzy feelings about us, I exited quickly, yelling back over my shoulder something about how beautiful their house was blah blah blah.

She actually wrote me a really nice email tonight.  I believe we made a new friend today.

That is, assuming her cat didn’t eat any of that rat poison in our garage.