If you've ever lived with a cat, you know that they often turn up in the oddest places or the oddest ways. Sometimes it's just turning around in the kitchen to find a cat lounging where you were about to put your foot. Sometimes it becomes a lot more complicated.
My wife and I moved from Spanish Fork to Provo, Utah, about 10 miles away, so I could attend college. We took our cat, Smokey Joe, with us. He adjusted well to the new home. But he loved to roam, and there were two bulldogs in the neighborhood that loved to go after him.
We tried to keep Smokey locked up in the house, but he sat by the door and meowed to be set free. Almost every time Smokey went out, he would come home at top speed with the dogs close behind him.
We decided to see if the people who'd bought the Spanish Fork house would take him. They were happy to have him and said they'd take good care of him. But after a few days, they reported that he'd disappeared. We all hunted for him, but he couldn't be found.
We hoped Smokey would eventually find his way back to the Spanish Fork house, but if he didn't, we could imagine that he had found a good home elsewhere. We had our friends' cat story to encourage us.
When our friends lived in north Idaho, their cat climbed a very tall, skinny pine tree and refused to come down. It just sat up there and howled. Tom and Mabel tried everything - coaxing, bribes, threats, gourmet food - but the cat just sat in the tree and howled.
Tom decided to climb the tree and bring the cat down. As he came near the cat, it went up higher, until it was near the top where the branches were too fragile for Tom to go. He had to give up.
Then he got an idea. He found an old rope, took it up as high as he could climb, and tied it to the tree. He figured the tree was flexible enough that it could be bent over and pulled down near the ground. Then the cat could jump down or they could grab it.
Some of the neighbors came over to help. They got the tree bending over nicely, but it was straining so hard it took several people to hang on. When the cat was nearly in reach, the rope broke. The tree became a catapult. Everyone stood with open mouths and watched the poor feline go flying high in the sky with a howl. It sailed over the ravine in back of the house and disappeared out of sight.
They searched the ravine for several days, but didn't find a trace of the cat.
Some time later, Tom and Mabel were at a lawn party at a friend's house across the ravine. They were sitting on the patio when a cat came walking up to them. "That's our cat!" Mabel yelled.
"You're out of your mind," the lady told her. "That cat came to us from heaven. We were sitting here one day when it fell out of the sky and landed on the lawn. It was a little woozy for a couple of days, and then it was just fine. We named it Angel." She kept the cat.
We didn't expect Smokey Joe to fall out of the sky, but we hoped he'd found someone to give him a good home.
About three months after Smokey disappeared, I was sitting in a French class on campus. The door opened slightly, and as I was writing notes, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. A smoke-colored cat walked through the doorway. He strolled down the aisle, raised up, and put his paws on my leg. It was Smokey Joe. Finding his way to our house would have been amazing enough. He had certainly never been to college before.
I picked him up and started for the door. The professor asked, "Where are you going, Mr. Huntington?" I told him, "I'm taking Smokey Joe home." He didn't fall from heaven, and he was certainly no angel, but he was definitely a keeper.
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