View Full Version : A Merry Heart Maketh Good Like a Medicine

02-03-02, 11:37 PM
I just couldn't pass up posting this here. It had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. What makes it even funnier is that it really happened. Read and enjoy!!

A report of these events did indeed appear in the
Norristown Times-Herald, and it is indeed a true story. The article
reproduced above is an account prepared for friends by Rudy's owner, Patti
Schroeder, a professor in the English department at Ursinus College in
Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

This is the story of the night my ten-year-old cat, Rudy, got his
head stuck in the garbage disposal. I knew at the time that the
experience would be funny if the cat survived, so let me tell you
right up front that he's fine. Getting him out wasn't easy, though,
and the process included numerous home remedies, a
plumber, two cops, an emergency overnight veterinary clinic, a
case of mistaken identity, five hours of panic, and fifteen
minutes of fame.

First, some background. My husband, Rich, and I had just
returned from a five-day spring-break vacation in the Cayman
Islands, where I had been sick as a dog the whole time, trying to
convince myself that if I had to feel lousy, it was better to do it in
paradise. We had arrived home at 9 p.m., a day and a half later
than we had planned because of airline problems. I still had
illness-related vertigo and because of the flight delays had not
been able to prepare the class I was supposed to teach at 8:40
the next morning. I sat down at my desk to think about William
Carlos Williams, and around ten o'clock I heard Rich hollering
something indecipherable from the kitchen. As I raced out to see
what was wrong, I saw Rich frantically rooting around under the
kitchen sink, and Rudy -- or, rather, Rudy's headless body --
scrambling around in the sink, his claws clicking in panic on the
metal. Rich had just ground up the skin of some smoked
salmon in the garbage disposal, and when he left the room,
Rudy (whom we always did call a pinhead) had gone in after it.

It is very disturbing to see the headless body of your cat in the
sink. This is an animal that I have slept with nightly for ten years,
who burrows under the covers and purrs against my side, and
who now looked like a desperate, fur-covered turkey carcass,
set to defrost in the sink while it's still alive and kicking. It was
also disturbing to see Rich, Mr. Calm-in-an-Emergency, at his
wits end, trying to soothe Rudy, trying to undo the garbage
disposal, failing at both, and basically freaking out. Adding to the
chaos was Rudy's twin brother Lowell, also upset, racing
around in circles, jumping onto the kitchen counter and
alternately licking Rudy's butt for comfort and biting it out of fear.
Clearly, I had to do something.

First we tried to ease Rudy out of the disposal by lubricating his
head and neck. We tried Johnson's baby shampoo (kept on
hand for my nieces' visits) and butter-flavored Crisco: both
failed, and a now-greasy Rudy kept struggling. Rich then
decided to take apart the garbage disposal, which was a good
idea, but he couldn't do it. Turns out, the thing is constructed like
a metal onion: you peel off one layer and another one appears,
with Rudy's head still buried deep inside, stuck in a hard plastic
collar. My job during this process was to sit on the kitchen
counter petting Rudy, trying to calm him, with the room spinning
(vertigo), Lowell howling (he's part Siamese), and Rich
clattering around with tools.

When all our efforts failed, we sought professional help. I called
our regular plumber, who actually called me back quickly, even
at 11 o'clock at night (thanks, Dave). He talked Rich through
further layers of disposal dismantling, but still we couldn't reach
Rudy. I called the 1-800 number for Insinkerator (no response),
a pest removal service that advertises 24-hour service (no
response), an all-night emergency veterinary clinic (who had no
experience in this matter, and so, no advice), and finally, in
desperation, 911. I could see that Rudy's normally pink paw
pads were turning blue. The fire department, I figured, gets cats
out of trees; maybe they could get one out of a garbage

The dispatcher had other ideas and offered to send over two
policemen. This suggestion gave me pause. I'm from the
sixties, and even if I am currently a fine upstanding citizen, I had
never considered calling the cops and asking them to come to
my house, on purpose. I resisted the suggestion, but the
dispatcher was adamant: "They'll help you out," he said.

The cops arrived close to midnight and turned out to be quite
nice. More importantly, they were also able to think rationally,
which we were not. They were, of course, quite astonished by
the situation: "I've never seen anything like this," Officer Mike
kept saying. (The unusual circumstances helped us get quickly
on a first-name basis with our cops.) Officer Tom, who
expressed immediate sympathy for our plight -- "I've had cats all
my life," he said, comfortingly -- also had an idea. Evidently we
needed a certain tool, a tiny, circular rotating saw, that could cut
through the heavy plastic flange encircling Rudy's neck without
hurting Rudy, and Officer Tom happened to own one. "I live just
five minutes from here," he said; "I'll go get it." He soon returned,
and the three of them -- Rich and the two policemen -- got under
the sink together to cut through the garbage disposal. I sat on
the counter, holding Rudy and trying not to succumb to the
surreal-ness of the scene, with the weird middle-of-the-night
lighting, the room's occasional spinning, Lowell's spooky sound
effects, an apparently headless cat in my sink and six
disembodied legs poking out from under it. One good thing
came of this: the guys did manage to get the bottom off of the
disposal, so we could now see Rudy's face and knew he could
breathe. But they couldn't cut the flange without risking the cat.

Officer Tom had another idea. "You know," he said, "I think the
reason we can't get him out is the angle of his head and body. If
we could just get the sink out and lay it on its side, Ill bet we
could slip him out." That sounded like a good idea at this point.
ANYTHING would have sounded like a good idea, and as it
turned out, Officer Mike runs a plumbing business on weekends;
he knew how to take out the sink! Again they went to work, the
three pairs of legs sticking out from under the sink surrounded
by an ever-increasing pile of tools and sink parts. They cut the
electrical supply, capped off the plumbing lines, unfastened the
metal clamps, unscrewed all the pipes, and about an hour later,
voila! the sink was lifted gently out of the countertop, with one
guy holding the garbage disposal (which contained Rudy's
head) up close to the sink (which contained Rudy's body). We
laid the sink on its side, but even at this more favorable removal
angle, Rudy stayed stuck.

Officer Tom's radio beeped, calling him away on some kind of
real police business. As he was leaving, though, he had another
good idea: "You know," he said, "I don't think we can get him out
while he's struggling so much. We need to get the cat sedated.
If he were limp, we could slide him out." And off he went,
regretfully, a cat lover still worried about Rudy. The remaining
three of us decided that getting Rudy sedated was a good idea,
but Rich and I were new to the area. We knew that the overnight
emergency veterinary clinic was only a few minutes away, but
we didn't know exactly how to get there. "I know where it is!"
declared Officer Mike. "Follow me!" So Mike got into his patrol
car, Rich got into the driver's seat of our car, and I got into the
back, carrying the kitchen sink, what was left of the garbage
disposal, and Rudy. It was now about 2:00 a.m. We followed
Officer Mike for a few blocks when I decided to put my hand into
the garbage disposal to pet Rudy's face, hoping I could comfort
him. Instead, my sweet, gentle bedfellow chomped down on my
finger hard, really hard, and wouldn't let go. My scream reflex
kicked into gear, and I couldn't stop the noise. Rich slammed on
the brakes, hollering "What? What happened? Should I stop?",
checking us out in the rearview mirror. "No," I managed to get
out between screams, "just keep driving. Rudy's biting me, but
we've got to get to the vet. Just go!" Rich turned his attention
back to the road, where Officer Mike took a turn we hadn't
expected, and we followed. After a few minutes Rudy let go, and
as I stopped screaming, I looked up to discover that we were
wandering aimlessly through an industrial park, in and out of
empty parking lots, past little streets that didn't look at all
familiar. "Where's he taking us?" I asked. "We should have been
there ten minutes ago!" Rich was as mystified as I was, but all
we knew to do was follow the police car until, finally, he pulled
into a church parking lot and we pulled up next to him. As Rich
rolled down the window to ask, "Mike, where are we going?", the
cop, who was not Mike, rolled down his window and asked,
"Why are you following me?" Once Rich and I recovered from
our shock at having tailed the wrong cop car and the policeman
from his pique at being stalked, he led us quickly to the
emergency vet, where Mike greeted us by holding open the
door, exclaiming "Where were you guys???"

It was lucky that Mike got to the vet's ahead of us, because we
hadn't thought to call and warn them about what was coming.

02-03-02, 11:41 PM
(Clearly, by this time we weren't really thinking at all.) We
brought in the kitchen sink containing Rudy and the garbage
disposal containing his head, and the clinic staff was ready.
They took his temperature (which was down 10 degrees) and
his oxygen level (which was half of normal), and the vet
declared: "This cat is in serious shock. We've got to sedate him
and get him out of there immediately." When I asked if it was
OK to sedate a cat in shock, the vet said grimly, "We don't have
a choice." With that, he injected the cat; Rudy went limp; and
the vet squeezed about half a tube of K-Y jelly onto the cat's
neck and pulled him free. Then the whole team jumped into
"code blue" mode. (I know this from watching a lot of ER.) They
laid Rudy on a cart, where one person hooked up IV fluids,
another put little socks on his paws ("You'd be amazed how
much heat they lose through their pads," she said), one covered
him with hot water bottles and a blanket, and another took a
blow-dryer to warm up Rudy's now very gunky head. The fur on
his head dried in stiff little spikes, making him look rather
pathetically punk as he lay there, limp and motionless. At this
point they sent Rich, Mike, and me to sit in the waiting room
while they tried to bring Rudy back to life. I told Mike he didn't
have to stay, but he just stood there, shaking his head. "I've
never seen anything like this," he said again. At about 3 a.m, the
vet came in to tell us that the prognosis was good for a full
recovery. They needed to keep Rudy overnight to re-hydrate him
and give him something for the brain swelling they assumed he
had, but if all went well, we could take him home the following
night. Just in time to hear the good news, Officer Tom rushed in,
finished with his real police work and concerned about Rudy. I
figured that once this ordeal was over and Rudy was home
safely, I would have to re-think my position on the police.

Rich and I got back home about 3:30. We hadn't unpacked from
our trip, I was still intermittently dizzy, and I still hadn't prepared
my 8:40 class. "I need a vacation," I said, and while I called the
office to leave a message canceling my class, Rich made us a
pitcher of martinis.

I slept late the next day and then badgered the vet about Rudy's
condition until he said that Rudy could come home later that
day. I was working on the suitcases when the phone rang. "Hi,
this is Steve Huskey from the Norristown Times-Herald," a voice
told me. "Listen, I was just going through the police blotter from
last night. Mostly it's the usual stuff breaking and entering, petty
theft but there's this one item. Um, do you have a cat?" So I told
Steve the whole story, which interested him. A couple hours
later he called back to say that his editor was interested, too; did
I have a picture of Rudy? The next day Rudy was front-page
news, under the ridiculous headline "Catch of the Day Lands
Cat in Hot Water."

There were some noteworthy repercussions to the newspaper
article. Mr. Huskey had somehow inferred that I called 911
because I thought Rich, my husband, was going into shock,
although how he concluded this from my comment that "his
pads were turning blue," I don't quite understand. So the first
thing I had to do was call Rich at work Rich, who had worked
tirelessly to free Rudy -- and swear that I had been misquoted.
When I arrived at work myself, I was famous; people had been
calling my secretary all morning to inquire about Rudy's health.
When I called our regular vet (whom I had met only once) to
make a follow-up appointment for Rudy, the receptionist asked,
"Is this the famous Rudy's mother?" When I brought my car in
for routine maintenance a few days later, Dave, my mechanic,
said, "We read about your cat. Is he OK?" When I called a tree
surgeon about my dying red oak, he asked if I knew the person
on that street whose cat had been in the garbage disposal. And
when I went to get my hair cut, the shampoo person told me the
funny story her grandma had read in the paper, about a cat who
got stuck in the garbage disposal. Even today, over a year later,
people ask about Rudy, whom a 9-year-old neighbor had always
called "the Adventure Cat" because he used to climb on the roof
of her house and peer in the second-story window at her.

I don't know what the moral of this story is, but I do know that
this "adventure" cost me $1100 in emergency vet bills, follow-up
vet care, new sink, new plumbing, new electrical wiring, and
new garbage disposal, one with a cover. The vet can no longer
say he's seen everything but the kitchen sink. I wanted to thank
Officers Tom and Mike by giving them gift certificates to the
local hardware store, but was told that they couldn't accept gifts,
that I would put them in a bad position if I tried. So I wrote a letter
to the Police Chief praising their good deeds and sent individual
thank-you notes to Tom and Mike, complete with pictures of
Rudy, so they could see what he looks like with his head on.
And Rudy, whom we originally got for free (or so we thought),
still sleeps with me under the covers on cold nights and
unaccountably, he still sometimes prowls the sink, hoping for

02-03-02, 11:50 PM
Oh my.....


02-04-02, 01:12 AM
\ o o /

Breni Sue
02-04-02, 04:24 AM
Oh dear! :eek:

I happen to have my kitty Cocoa sitting on my lap right now, and she has no clue as to why I am laughing and hugging her at the same time! :rofl: Thank goodness that poor Rudy survived though!