Cat Born Under a Radiator Enjoys Exploring Basement Pipes

The following story is a finalist in the Tales of Summer Tails Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers will receive $500 in cash, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. Voting runs through September 8. To read more stories and cast your vote, click here!

Gladys was born under a radiator. Maybe that’s why hot weather became her best friend. Gladys’s favorite summer activity was perambulating on the pipes in our basement. Gladys, a mostly white cat, then trundled upstairs all black, covered in dirt and soot from the furnace’s long arms, which spread, octopus-like, all over the basement.

I couldn’t let her jump on furniture in her filthy condition. So into the bathroom we went. I turned on the faucet in the tub, adjusted the temperature to warm but not too warm, and washed Gladys. She writhed and twisted and tried to escape. I had no choice but to carefully hold her front legs together in one hand and her back legs together in the other and pass her back and forth under the tap, rinsing off the soap. Sometimes she protested mightily, screeching so loudly I thought the neighbors might call Animal Control. Gladys was not pleased.


After such an ordeal, Gladys galloped upstairs and lay in a summer sunbeam until she was sizzling to the touch.

Exploring the entire basement, and not just the pipes, was a favorite summer pastime. One day I was working in my office upstairs when I heard a terrific, but muffled, crash. I was used to cats knocking things off shelves and tables, but this sounded different. I ran down to the first floor. Nothing amiss. Noises emanated from the basement, so I hurried down.


Gladys had been playing on my exercise bicycle, which I stored in the basement and tried to forget about. She’d managed to knock it over on herself. Gladys was squirming under the bicycle, calling out for help.

I freed her, bundled her into a cat carrier, and raced to our vets, who were just down the street. Gladys was unhurt but shaken. Ample amounts of cat treats made up for the scare. Almost. Basement exploration ceased to be Gladys’s favorite summertime activity. She had to come up with something else to occupy her active mind.


I was sitting on the couch when I felt something tap my ankle. I looked down, and there was Gladys. I figured she needed petting, and I complied. But Gladys wasn’t satisfied. Only then did I notice she had something in her mouth: a tiny, bright red ball.

Gladys made eye contact. Once she was sure I was watching, she dropped the ball at my feet.

“How cute!” I thought and went back to reading my book… until I felt the next bap at my ankle, much more insistent than the previous one.

Gladys was still sitting on one side of my feet, with the ball on the other. She meowed loudly and slammed my ankle with her head once again, but even more forcefully.

The dim lightbulb over my head finally went on. “You want to play fetch, don’t you?” I asked. And she meowed again. And grinned broadly.

So I threw the ball a short ways. Gladys trotted over to it, picked it up, brought it back to me, and dropped it at my feet. I threw it again, a bit farther away. And Gladys brought it back again. We played fetch until Gladys lay on the floor, panting.


That’s how our summertime fetchcat playtimes began.

But Gladys grew dissatisfied with what she seemed to perceive as easy stuff. Soon she wanted to catch the ball between her front paws. And Gladys succeeded.

Then she wanted to catch the ball in her mouth. And Gladys succeeded.

I wondered when she’d want to engage me in a fierce game of chess. But Gladys seemed content with fetchcat.

What will she come up with next?

This story was submitted by Hazel Blumberg-McKee in support of Leon County Humane Society. To read other stories from the Tales of Summer Tails photo and story contest, and to cast your vote for your favorite, click here!

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