My Gray Tabby, Bubba, Is an Escape Artist


Whenever I leave the house, I need to get a visual on my two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix. It would be easy to assume that they are fine even if I can’t see them, and they’re probably just hiding under the bed or in a closet.

Wait — in a closet? They’ll be stuck in there all day!

Bubba and I have an 11-year history of me foiling his escape attempts and uncovering his super-secret (and occasionally super-unsafe) hiding spots. All things considered, I think my worry is perfectly justified. Here are four reasons why.

1. Bubba’s 100-yard dash is Olympic quality

Before I brought Bubba home for the first time 11 years ago, he lived briefly in a house in midtown Kansas City, MO, with my then-boyfriend and a few of his friends. When I finally persuaded my roommates that getting a cat was a good idea, I went to the house to retrieve my gray tabby kitten.

As I was carrying him to the car, he leapt from my arms and darted full speed down Pennsylvania Avenue. I tossed aside the full litter box I was carrying and gave chase, finally catching up as he was climbing a large tree at the end of the block. I pried his tiny claws from the wood and hugged him close to my chest so he couldn’t get away.

I did not yet know that this tiny life-form was chaos incarnate, just dying to show off his top-notch murder skills. Even more surprising: I would love him like crazy regardless.

2. To the untrained eye, one gray tabby looks a lot like another

When I was in my early 20s, I was a regular at a bar called Buzzard Beach, which resembles the lower deck of a rickety pirate ship (wooden walls, no windows, some guy puking in a trashcan). When the bar closed, my friends and I were usually not ready for the party to stop, so we would keep it going at the house my best friend and I shared down the street.

One night we were sitting around sipping sangria when I realized I hadn’t seen Bubba since we got home. I looked around and couldn’t find him anywhere, so I enlisted the help of my drunken friends in locating my kitty. I found him almost immediately lurking under a patio chair and hauled him inside, squeezing him tightly on the couch and scolding him for making me worry.

I thought the issue was resolved, but a few moments later my friend Joe came in carrying another gray cat, who was hissing and writhing in his grasp. "He was under a car down the street," said Joe, out of breath, holding the cat toward me. "That’s not …," I said, but the random, feral cat had already wriggled free and ran back out the door while Joe stood there bleeding.

3. Sometimes, I am careless

Around 2006, my then-boyfriend and I shared an apartment on the third floor of a house that was surrounded by evergreen trees, creating an awesome treehouse effect. The only problem: The front door didn’t always fully close, and as a student, I was always rushing in and out.

One time I came home to find Bubba walking casually down the stairs as I was coming up. He looked so out of place standing on the concrete looking up at the trees — kind of like someone who sees the bright lights of Vegas for the first time while gazing wide-eyed from the back of a cab in one of those dumb, idealistic movies. Everything was so out of context that I had to look twice to ensure it was him before snatching him up and bringing him inside.

In this same apartment, Bubba once camped out for an entire day in the linen closet. I, of course, thought he was lost, and started panicking. I was getting ready to print signs for lamp-posts — “LOST CAT, answers to Bubba, or the shrill cry of pain the moment fang pierces flesh” — when I heard crying coming from somewhere close by. I flung open the closet door, and Bubba was sitting behind a pile of blankets. His face said, "Whatever, lady." He continued to sit there.

4. Without even knowing it, Bubba walks on the wild side

Bubba has found some incredibly dangerous hiding spots in his time. One was in the bowels of this ratty, blue recliner I inherited from my parents, which was covered in bite marks and, uh, miscellaneous stains from the many times their Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie, had his way with it. One day I investigated a mysterious lump that was causing the fabric on the back of the chair to bulge like something from the Alien movies, and I felt something that was distinctly cat-like — that is, heavy and warm. I can only assume was Bubba calmly napping.

More recently, I freaked when I couldn’t find Bubba during my daily search of the premises. In a last-ditch effort before I’d be late for work, I peeked behind my early-20th-century stove … and saw a gray, striped tail sticking out from somewhere within the ancient machine. I lured him out with treats and then pushed the stove up as close to the wall as it could go. On the off-chance that I actually used the damn thing to cook, I didn’t want Bubba lurking among its flammable, scary innards.

What strange places have you found your cats? Share in the comments!

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