The Cat is Now Out!

Thanks for all your kind wishes and suggestions about my trapped cat. Without seeing the bookcase, it was hard appreciate the situation. The cat was trapped underneath, in a small space beneath the bottom shelf, a very large and heavy bookcase (10 feet tall, 8 feet wide, substantial enough to be loaded with what I estimate were at least 500 lbs of books). The cat did not have enough space to stand up, and apparently could not get a purchase to push himself out, nor could he get his head and both front paws out to pull himself free either. A complicating factor was that the top sections of the bookcase were cabled to the wall to prevent them from tipping forward and causing all sorts of carnage.

Reader bob via a long discussion over e-mail, recommended the solution my building handymen also suggested when then came up to have a look: pivoting the bookcase out an inch or so. Bob insisted I empty the bookcase and get the guys to use a metal rod as a lever and a piece of wood to protect the bookcase, both of which were good calls, since two men were barely able to budge it even using the rod to amplify force. The cat popped out almost immediately. They building staff shoved the bookcase back, with the result that the space behind it is tighter before and I can’t see how he can possibly get back there now.

Thanks again for your patience and kind wishes! Aside from being very dirty, the cat seems none the worse for wear.

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  1. Marc Andelman

    Glad it worked out. If you had a Wall Street mentality, you might have concluded it was more cost effective to simply get a new cat.

  2. Kate

    what is the sweet kitty’s name?…that was not a good vacation for him either….my kitties send their best…now, a little food and water, then wash and sleep. or do you need to reshelve books?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Gabriel, for the patron saint of telecommunications. He liked to chew phone cords when he was a kitten.

      1. sufferin' succotash

        Wasn’t Gabriel the one who dictated the Qur’an to Mohammad?
        Hmmm! Sounds pretty subversive to me.

        1. LucyLulu

          Yves, I’m so glad that your little (arch)angel has been rescued to live yet another life. Only fitting since Gabriel is associated with ‘births’.

          Yes, Gabriel dictated the Qur’an to Muhammad. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all maintain that Gabriel is an angel that delivered the news of the births of Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus. (Mary’s response to the news is the basis of the Magnificat, a Catholic prayer.) Gabriel and Michael are the only two angels mentioned by name in the Bible and Torah. Besides delivering news, Gabriel is often associated with imparting insight and understanding, or in the Bahai religion, wisdom. Jewish beliefs hold that Gabriel was sent by God to destroy the city of Sodom and the sinners who lived there. Both Jews and Christians believe Gabriel stand beside God in heaven, thus making him an archangel. Gabriel, in Christianity, will blow the horns to wake up the dead on Judgment Day. The Catholic church deems Gabriel the patron saint of journalists and teachers (Yves!). In extra-Biblical texts, the book of Enoch says Gabriel is charged with overseeing Paradise.

          Yves, if you didn’t realize what a special cat you had before, you do now!!! But knowing you, none of this is new information. Still, I thought other readers might find it interesting like I did. Anyways, I hope you can sit back, put up your feet, have a glass of wine, and relax for a bit now. If you still can’t relax, drink the rest of the bottle (actually had peds MD give me that advice once when first child was baby, lol). You deserve it.

          1. LucyLulu

            For Prime Beef and F. Beard (especially but not only) and I don’t have a link, but I remember this clearly because it was so interesting and ironic, and I’m reminded of it by the above posts.

            A couple years ago a survey was conducted quizzing a large number of people with questions from the Bible and about standard Christian beliefs. Those who identified as atheists fared better on the quiz than self-professed Christians.

            BTW, I’m not an atheist and don’t have a dog in the fight. And I’m quite sure you would have aced the quiz, Beard. But it was a fascinating tidbit.

            Now ya’ll behave yourselves! (Beefy, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your humor. Some mornings you have me chuckling out loud.)

            1. F. Beard

              Those who identified as atheists fared better on the quiz than self-professed Christians. LucyLulu

              I presume the ignorance of the self-professed Christians was largely wrt the Old Testament – how very convenient to the usury and counterfeiting cartel, the banks – but how un-Scriptual according to the New Testament itself.

            2. AbyNormal

              Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal… In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

              Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh–not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.
              Twain, Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings

              GREAT news Yves!

              1. F. Beard

                “In truth, man is incurably foolish.” Mark Twain via AbyNormal

                Jeremiah said this about mankind about 2600 years earlier:

                “The heart is more deceitful than all else
                And is desperately sick;
                Who can understand it?
                “I, the Lord, search the heart,
                I test the mind,
                Even to give to each man according to his ways,
                According to the results of his deeds.
                Jeremiah 17:9-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

                And, of course, there is Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22. And of course it is pointed out in several other places in Scripture.

  3. HereToday

    Glad it ended well for all …

    Just an aside: your kitty with a happy look would surely make a lovely antidote

  4. anon y'mouse

    inspired by that Monty Python sketch that skippy linked to last night:

    “and there was much rejoicing in the kingdom…”

    *coconuts optional

    1. bob

      Everyone needs a good bar. At home I would recommend a 4-6 foot piece of “iron pipe”, at least 1/2 an inch, 3/4 is better.

      In the car, place a 2-3 foot piece of the same size and type. If you are ever stuck trying to change a tire and the stock wrench isn’t long enough for good leverage (they never are) you slide the pipe over the wrench handle and have another 3-4 times the leverage.

      Both can be had at home depot for less than $10 combined.

      1. LucyLulu

        Makes a good self-defense weapon in a crunch too, if you can keep it under your front seat. I have a long and heavy flashlight for that purpose (though hope to never need it). I could use my CCW and keep a gun in the car but have yet to take it out of the house except to go to the range. Somehow I just can’t bring myself to do it. Mostly I wanted the course for the education and the option, just in case (though once again, would hope to never need it). I’m even thinking of selling the gun now that I don’t have a drug dealer living next door with customers showing up all hours of the night, sometimes mistakenly at my door (when lived in FL, where else?). He actually was charged and sentenced before I moved. Otherwise, he was the friendliest one of all my neighbors, the only one who ever talked to me instead of looking at me like I was an alien for saying “hello”.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I took a course (for fun, believe it or not) which was NOT a self defense course (their stance is that if you are in a violent encounter, you have to render the other guy incapable of action first. The party who induces serious trauma first wins). Most of it was hand to hand, but we spent a couple of hours practicing with fake guns, knives and bludgeons (both as the aggressor and the defender). Hands down, a bludgeon is way more useful.

          1. not me

            A children’s, aluminum baseball bat. Very cheap at garage sales and second hand stores. Perfect size and weight for most people not “trained”.

            A full size bat is way too much for most (if not all) to be able to swing around, especially indoors.

            Under 10 feet away a gun becomes much less “useful”.

  5. Agent V

    I recommend putting something to block the remaining space from further cat intrusions, no matter how small it looks!

    1. chicagogal

      Agree completely! Cats will always try to get into places where they don’t fit, which causes extreme anxiety for their people. The only way to prevent any return visits is to review the area around the bookcase and cover any access points, no matter how small.

      Glad to hear Gabriel is none the worse for his adventure!

    2. JustAnAbserver

      Fill the space with that best of all anti-cat devices – water … with a bottle of shampoo floating in it just in case he still doesn’t get the message.

    3. JustAnObserver

      Fill the remaining space with the only effective anti-cat device – water … with, maybe, a bottle of shampoo floating in it just to make sure he gets the message.

  6. Barry O.

    We are proposing an elegant method to take care of similar problems, where owners with cat problems and owners with happy cat would bid on a exchange. Wish you waited till Oct 1st.

  7. XO

    Hey, YS:

    We recently had our home invaded by a stray (shortly after our cat of 20 years — small, jet black, über friendly, long hair — died). This one had apparently been on the street, for a while. Quite friendly, when hungry, but aloof, when fed.

    He’s neutered, quite orange (but very good looking — for a ginger), been to the vet, and now in good shape. He’s a hunter (bad cat!).

    We haven’t named him, because we don’t intend on keeping him. We need a break between cats. If we were to name him, we feel any of the following would be appropriate:




    Deckster (he somehow got onto our deck — that’s where we found him)

    It (as in, “did you feed It?”)

    Sh*t Bomb

    He answers to none of the above.

    You want him? I’ll ship him anywhere. I’ll even put holes in the box.

    If you want, I’ll submit a good photo for an antidote du jour.

    1. anon y'mouse

      too late on your cat break. cat found you. you’re claimed.

      they have a dowser’s instincts.

      please save the birds.

      1. XO

        We live in a very bird populated area (everything from finches to turkeys — including some fairly rare birds). So far, he has only killed moles. If he gets a bird, I don’t know what I’d do.

  8. HotFlash

    Splendid! Champagne all around, or, if preferred, cream.

    After having a harpsichord say ‘meow’ after an intervention, we now do a cat-count before sealing up any cavities, including repaired instruments, drywall and garden shed. Mlle Viviana was safely extracted and the h’chord returned to its owner sans kittah. But it was close.

  9. dbk

    Yves, I’m so happy for you! My son has three cats, another friend has a beloved 11-pounder whom I frequently sit for when she’s away, so I understand how important Gabriel’s rescue was for/to you. Thank you for sharing something so human(e) and personal with your devoted readership.

  10. Jeff N

    ohh, I have a tear in my eye while reading this post & worrying about your poor cat! I am glad to hear that he is OK! :)

  11. LAS

    What a relief. Gabriel deserves to be antidote for the day. Let him pay for his folly with celebrity status.

    Where have my cats been? Inside a box spring, up a chimney and hanging off curtains as they gradual reduce to shreds under cat treatment.

  12. Vox Populi

    I recommend Studs Terkel’s epitaph for your feline: “Curiosity did not kill this cat!”

    If your cat wants to discuss the experience, I can recommend a “cat communicator” in Marin County. A friend there had two cats, one of whom went missing. The remaining cat told the communicator that he saw the ghost of the missing cat in the house at one point, had no idea what happened to her, but was glad she was gone.

  13. DWoolley

    Update to your earlier post stating you have an 11 lb. cat, presumably with a full 9 lives.

    Today you probably have a 10 lb cat with a balance of 8 lives. Mentally he is unlikely to be the same. Fortunately, with cats, nobody will ever know-not even the cat.

    Thankfully you came home as scheduled. Imagine the disaster had you extend a couple of days.

    All is well that ends well.

  14. JohnnyGL

    Anyone else seeing Syria parallels in this? Our president, also a notorious fat cat, got himself stuck in a tight space that he got himself into and couldn’t get out of. Luckily, it seems Russia and Syria found a way to carve some space out so he could get free without getting hurt (well, at least his ego)! Good job Russia and Syria! You guys are just like building maintenance in Yves’ place!

  15. tulsatime

    Congrats on the kitty extraction. It is terribly nerve wracking when they get themselves stuck. We had one behind a MUCH smaller bookcase that was diaganol in a corner when he fell off the top. There was much caterwauling before we could move the required 3 inches to allow the traumatised beast out of the space. Others have been ‘stuck’ in trees until the rain.

    It may take one of our lives, but not kitty’s.

  16. Observer

    Shortly after moving to a new apartment, one of my kitties was late coming home one evening. I combed the neighborhood calling his name in a half whisper, hoping my new neighbors wouldn’t notice me slinking around yelling for someone named “Wilbur” and generally looking like a fool. That night he didn’t come home, so the next morning I was out again looking. I finally found Wilbur inside a neighbor’s car, his little pink mouth opening and closing soundlessly as we looked at each other through the driver side window. Looking around and seeing no one, I furtively tried opening the car door. Locked! Which neighbor did the car belong to? I hadn’t met a single one yet. I had no choice but to knock on doors until I found the owner of the locked car. “Uh, my cat is locked in your car.” Thinking, “Oh, God, I hope he didn’t pee in there!” He didn’t, and luckily, the neighbor just laughed. Whether it was with me or at me, I can’t be sure.

    Ah, but we will do anything for our furry friends. Glad your kitty’s OK.

  17. PQS

    So glad to hear the Bookcase Adventure ended well for all. Our poor old Catherine spent the night in the garage a couple nights ago and there was panic all around.

  18. auntienene

    Good news about Gabriel!

    When my kitty, Vegas (patron saint of gamblers), was little, she got closed up in my husband’s recliner. Never cried or made a sound when I called and searched for her. It was really a wild guess when I checked for her in the chair. She just hopped out like she’d had a jolly good time.

  19. 2laneIA

    Huzzah! Now suggest you stuff the opening with styrofoam peanuts or something similar. Cats are incredibly stupid.

  20. David

    Great news re: Abyssinian;
    My late wife and I had one years ago (a gift from breeder of abbys for show; Aggie failed the show standards).
    Aggie changed my feelings about cats (I, a dog person).
    She was the gentlest and sweetest creature on earth. You could drape her around your neck (like the fox carcasses that the well-to-do wore way back when). She would purr and keep you neck warm. And then just climb up on you and rub her face on yours for what seemed like hours.
    Unfortunately, she died relatively young (kidney failure); but every time I see a photo of an Abyssinian, I remember the sweet creature that was Abby…

  21. Susan the other

    Welcome back to Gabriel. I thought today’s antidote might be a snapshot as he looked like he’d just had a close call. My favorite cat, Velcro, went missing one morning and managed to get himself caught in my new neighbor’s raccoon trap. About 20 years ago. I didn’t even know he had set any traps, but I went straight to it. I swear that cat was telepathic.

  22. Maude

    As the owner of two small cats who started life as feral kittens, I can relate to worry of them finding the smallest space possible to squeeze into. I recently moved and of course they were traumatized. They were missing within the basement room they were staying in at the new place and it took me a while to find one trying desperately to squeeze herself into the space between the end of the drywall and the cement wall. Poor little baby. Needless to say, I plugged it up quickly and found another hole that went all the way back between the drywall and outside wall that I also blocked. I shudder to think of them getting stuck in there as I would have had to do full on repair after getting them out. The whole area has been thoroughly inspected for other bad spots they could squeeze into but you just never know what they might find.

    They are more comfortable now and only hide under the bed and the couch when they get scared.

  23. Aussie F

    My cats are always getting into trouble. It’s absolutely nerve racking. Whenever they suffer pain it’s unbearable. It’s difficult to balance their need for freedom and autonomy with other welfare considerations.

    Glad to learn that all ended well.

  24. PeonInChief

    When we got the kitten who, for the first four months of her life thought her name was “no, Emma, no”, we solved the problem of small spaces with foam. We searched for every place that would require us to move a heavy object (stove, fridge etc.) to recover her, and stuffed foam into the access points.

  25. Sublimejah

    YAY!!! I was worried about your cat. That is silly of me I know but a traumatized pet can ruin your life. We adopted a cat that was traumatized and its taken years to tame her. Your cat is probably wondering why you did that to her. lol

  26. pat b

    I would suggest absolutely blocking off the entrance with screen material,
    cats are persistent and now that he knows you will rescue him will go back in there again.

  27. JCC


    I empathize. I once lost a cat in a finished cellar wall. Took me two days to figure out where it was once I figured out it had disappeared. Ended up using a sawzall across the basement wall to get the somewhat exhausted and terrified cat out of the 3 inch wide crawlspace.

    Cat-proofing that cellar afterwards took me a week of medium-hard labor. I still made it a point to keep that cellar door closed afterwards. I don’t know how they manage to do it… but they do.

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