By Alexis Meehan
Edited by April Jones
My cats Mellie and Sheila were indoor cats, but some friends helped me build a secure area outside that the cats could access. We put up some two-by-fours and stapled chicken wire to them to create a cage that went from the ground to the roofline. Then we covered the ground inside the cage with gravel and added some good-sized tree branches for the cats to climb on. We took a screen out of a bedroom (aka the cats’ room) window, cut a small square out of it, and fashioned a swinging cat door in it. With the window partly open, they could hop onto the window sill, push the little door open, and hop outside into the cat cage. Once they got used to it, they really enjoyed being able to safely go outdoors and spend time watching the birds and sitting in the breeze.
One evening, I came home from work and as I walked down my hallway, a small, dark object on the wall at just about eye-level caught my attention. I froze, thinking it was a giant spider, then I turned on the hall light to get a better look. Imagine my surprise to see that it was a small tree frog clinging to the wall. Mellie appeared at my feet, gazing up at the frog longingly. “How the heck did you get in here?” I murmured to the frog as I pondered the best way to get it safely outside before the cats got ahold of it. I went to the kitchen and found an empty jar with a screw-top lid, placed the jar over the frog
on the wall, and jiggled it until the frog fell into the jar. Holding the lid on tight, I hurried out to the backyard and released it, much to the disappointment of Mellie, who stood gazing sadly at me out of the sliding glass door.
A week later, I was vacuuming the living room rug, and as I dragged the vacuum head out from under the couch, a small, dark lump came out along with a handful of dust bunnies. Upon closer examination, I saw that it was a little shriveled up dead frog. I’m guessing it must’ve crawled under the couch in an effort to get away from the cats and perished there. I felt terrible, but as it turns out, it wasn’t the last little dead frog that I found underneath furniture. But how were they getting into the house?
A few days later as I walked by the cats’ room, I heard Mellie meowing as she came in from the cat cage. Mellie was a talker, so it was not unusual for her to meow at me, but this time her meow sounded different somehow, sort of muted. I stopped to greet her, and when I got closer I saw she had something in her mouth. You guessed it—a little tree frog. She promptly dropped it at my feet and the frog began to clamber away. I managed to quickly pull a Kleenex out of my pocket and scoop it up before Mellie could get her paws on it again. So that’s how the frogs were getting into the house—they were finding their way into the cat cage through the chicken wire. It probably looked like a nice, safe shady place for them to climb branches and catch bugs, but instead, Mellie caught them and brought them into the house. Mystery solved. I never saw Sheila show any interest in the frogs, so Mellie must have been the culprit. I hurried out to the backyard and freed the little frog as far away from the cat cage as possible. As I did, I whispered to it, “Please tell all your friends to stay away from the cat cage!”
Mellie and Sheila have both been gone for a couple of years now, but every time I look out at the empty cat cage, I think about Mellie and her frogs and I smile.