Not sure if you remember my plan called Operation Elderly Friend (OEF) but you may be glad to know I’m just a little bit closer to having an elderly and non-English speaking friend here. For a while my search was on hiatus as backlash from slightly offending an elderly woman at our block party in the fall, but there is finally hope on the horizon.
A few weeks ago, I happened to run in to my elderly neighbor one night as I was arriving home from the store. She was standing outside her house and seemed slightly confused in the dark. When I spoke to her she told me that she couldn’t get her door open and she had just spent the day walking around in Paris and was exhausted. In an effort to help, I pulled out my trusty iPhone flashlight (is there nothing these phones can’t do?). We finally managed to get her door open and that’s when I happened to mention something to her that would turn out to be a critical to the next stage of OEF: le petit chat. Two in fact.
We’ve known since we moved in to the neighborhood that our neighbor is crazy about cats. Her cats walk along the walls of our property staring at us as if we’re trespassing on their turf and each night she goes outside to call them in to sleep in her cozy house. Despite the fact that I’m not a huge fan of cats (warning: I’m a die-hard dog person), it is refreshing to see a cat owner in France take such good care of her pets. Frankly, most cats in France are left to live and die on their own. If they’re lucky, they may get an occasional bowl of food left outside, but that’s pretty much it. The dogs with hair bows on the other hand………….they are the royalty of the French pet world.
A few days prior to the interaction with my neighbor, we heard a noise outside of our house at night that seemed loud and close. Since there are no squirrels here and the hedgehog who lives in our yard doesn’t like to come near the house, Tim went to investigate. It turned out that we had two tiny kittens playing on our back stoop with some things we had left outside. When Tim opened the door, the kittens ran away and although we were concerned about them, we figured that they would go back to wherever they came from.
A few days passed and that’s when I happened to help my neighbor open her door at night and when I mentioned that we had two petit chats in our backyard a couple of days before, she immediately came to life. All tiredness from walking the streets of Paris disappeared and she told me that she had been looking for these two kittens because they were wild and she was trying to save them. Not only was she planning to capture these wild cats, but she had already lined up someone to adopt them as house pets.
The next thing I knew I was making a plan for her to come over to capture the cats the next day. She wasn’t really asking for help in capturing the cats so much as setting up a time to trespass in our yard to capture them herself.
Here’s what was going through my mind as I was having this conversation with her:
1 very elderly woman + 2 wild kittens = epic disaster
Not only was I not at all convinced that this woman could catch these cats, I was actually afraid she might hurt herself in the process.
When I offered up 9am as a good time to come over, she said that was WAY too early for her and then she counter offered with a time that I thought was 1pm. In case you didn’t know this, the French sleep very late. And in case you didn’t also know this, I’m number challenged in French. As a result, I thought she said 1pm, but she actually said 3pm.
The next day when 1pm rolled around and the woman failed to show up, I started to get worried. We ended up waiting until about 2:3o for her to show up and then I sent Tim over to make sure she was ok. He came back to report that she was alive and well and still lingering about in her pjs while getting her cat cages ready for the big cat capture at 3pm.
I really needed to run out to the store and although I wasn’t actively trying to miss the cat capture, I really didn’t think there would be much to miss. I was pretty sure that there could only be a bad outcome from a war of wills between the old lady and the wild cats. When I returned, I fully expected to hear a sob story about the petit chats who got away, but instead I was greeted with shouts of joy from the boys that the old woman had accomplished the impossible. She had wrangled those cats into a cage with the help of nothing more than a sheet over her hand. She was a cat whisperer after all.
As a result of the petit chats and the success of the great cat capture, I’m a bit closer to succeeding at OEF. The elderly neighbor wants to get together with me for coffee and I’ll let you know how things work out for us. I certainly won’t mention that I don’t really like cats.
Here is a picture of one of the MANY dog beauty salons in our town for the pet royalty of France.