Our first adventure happened on the day the movers arrived to pack up all our belongings.
Some dear friends of ours were on vacation at Disney World that week and had offered up their home and van to us so we'd have a place to stay once our house was empty as well as a way to pick up the rental car that the relo company allowed us. We'd decided ahead of time that it'd be easiest if I dropped the cats off at our friends' house before the movers showed up so that we wouldn't have to worry about them getting out or have to keep them cooped up in their carriers all day.
I got up bright and early and drove the cats to our friends' house. They have a ranch style house with a full (partially finished) basement. They keep the litter box for their cat in the basement. Since I know cats handle transitions better when restricted to a smaller area, I decided to lock them in the basement. That way they'd have access to food, water, and the litter box. Besides, the basement didn't have much in the way of hiding spaces, whereas upstairs there were all sorts of rooms and furniture they could hide in/under/behind. When I left them that morning, they were cautiously exploring their new, temporary living quarters.
I arrived home about twenty minutes after the movers did. They were already hard at work. Now, when I was told they'd only scheduled two days to pack and load everything, I was skeptical. After all, I had a 2,000 sq. ft. house full of stuff, plus a full basement, plus everything in the garage. That would have taken me at least a month to pack up myself. But these three guys kicked butt. Not only were they really friendly, but they were fast and efficient. By 5:00 that evening, all of our possessions, except the things we were taking on the plane with us, were packed up and ready to put on the truck the next morning.
After the movers left for the day, we went out for dinner and ran a few errands. Then we came home to make our rental car reservations (for our remaining time in NY as well as the two weeks in CA before our cars would arrive). By the time we made it to our friends' house for the night, it was after midnight.
We went down to the basement to check on the cats and feed them dinner. We only found Chloe.
We figured Pumpkin and Stormy were probably hiding somehwere because they weren't happy about being left in a strange place. But after searching for twenty minutes, we still couldn't find them. They had to be somewhere in the basement. After all, I'd blocked the exit to the main floor. But where could they be?
Then, in one of the partially finished side rooms, Chriss noticed an area where a thick pipe went through the drywall, leaving a cat-sized hole. He climbed up on the workbench to get a better look. The insulation right around the hole looked a little flattened. He stuck his arm down the hole and discovered there was nothing beyond the insulation except a straight drop to the ground behind the wall.
We just looked at each other. We knew what had happened. Pumpkin and Stormy had been exploring, wanted to see what was through the hole, and fell behind the wall. And now they were stuck. I had a horrible feeling of deja vu and started freaking out.
Why the deja vu? Well, when I was twelve and living in Roosevelt, UT, I had two cats that we were keeping in the garage until they got used to us so they wouldn't run away once we let them outside. Those two cats found a gap between the wall and the doorstep at the top of the stairs (there were stairs that led from inside the garage to the door for the upstairs apartment) and they fell down the gap behind the wall. It took my mom and me forever to figure out what had happened to them. Then my mom had to remove a panel of drywall so I could reach inside and get my cats out. How did those cats repay us for that? They ran away three weeks later.
So here I was again, seventeen years later, facing similar circumstances. Fortunately, since that room was only partially finished, the solution was the same as the one in the past. Chriss found our friend's drill and used it to remove a panel of drywall. Then he peeled back the vapor layer and moved the insulation out of the way. Unfortunately, the gap he'd opened up was too small for him to squeeze through. And the cats were half a wall's length away from us. We were going to have to coax them out.
Pumpkin appeared almost immediately, but before Chriss could grab her, she ducked back inside. I ran upstairs to grab some cat food in hopes that'd lure her out. After about 5 minutes or so, she came within reach again and I was able to grab her and take her upstairs. Stormy was another matter.
We tried everything we could think of to coax her out, but she wouldn't budge. Half an hour later, Chriss had to resort to banging on the wall at the other end of the room, working his way closer to me, hoping it'd scare her in my direction. It eventually worked and I finally got her out. We decided that we'd keep them upstairs and away from the basement after that. It'd be much easier to fish them out from under furniture than to get them out of the wall again.
By that point, it was 2 a.m., but Chriss still had to run to Walmart to get a lint brush so we could get all the fiberglass out of their fur. My job was to keep them from bathing themselves so they wouldn't ingest it--or at least, any more than they might already have during their stint behind the wall. By the time Chriss got back and I got the cats cleaned off so we could go to bed, it was 3 a.m. and we had to meet the movers back at our house by 7:30.
It wasn't until three nights later--the night before we left NY for good--that we were able to put the wall back together. We did our best to make it look like nothing had happened and decided not to tell our friends until we could show them the video Chriss made me take of the whole ordeal. And until they finally check facebook and see the private video link of it that we sent them, they still have no idea what happened while they were away.
Stay tuned for Part Two: Moving Day.