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The Time Traveler's Cat

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The Time Traveler's Cat

A far-wandering feline in the Valley of Shadows

“Time is the fire we burn in.”  from Star Trek: Generations

One obscure local/area urban legend from here and, strangely enough, Priest Lake, is the story of the cat (not “cats,” cat) that was seen by several people in these two areas. I was reminded of this last year when, for a few days, the media played up a reel of a 1928 film clip from a Charlie Chaplin premiere, showing passers-by on a Los Angeles sidewalk. One, a stout woman in a dark coat, seen for only a couple of seconds, had her left hand up to her ear. Now, she may have been scratching it, or had an ear ache, but the manner in which she was holding her hand suggested she was talking into a cell phone. (You can see the clip here.

Now, regardless of how romantic or interesting the theory, some critical analysis wold raise a question of two. One, logically, there would have to be at least one other time traveler to whom she was talking and, even more important, cell phones rquire an infrastructure (towers, etc) that you just wouldn’t find 90 years ago. Of course, an argument in favor would be that the woman is from a point in our own future where phones can communicate with others without the ever-prevalent towers.

Another story for your consideration. A number of stories have appeared in the media regarding anomalous human footprint fossils (some bare, some shod) that suggest the print must have been made tens of millions of years ago, suggesting man was a contemporary of dinosaurs. People of religious faith have seized on some of these as proof that we didn’t evolve, and that humans have been here since the beginning, when the universe and the planet were first created by God. Science has offered various explanations for these prints (Google ‘Fisher Canyon,’ ‘Rockcastle County’ ‘Jackson County’ ‘Antelope Springs’ or ‘Paluxy River’ with fossil footprint for some examples), but here’s another alternative: that the prints were made by a time travel.

Now, how these anecdotal accounts relate to this local story.

About 50 or so years ago, most married women were stay-at-home housewives. After getting the kids off to school and doing the housework, about the only other activity was watching the early soap operas back in those dim, long ago days. 

Oh, there was the Tupperware and similar parties to go to, some school functions, but for the most part, their days were spent in vigil of the neighborhood.

Odd and spooky stories would sometimes be exchanged at the neighbor’s over coffee and an afternoon card game. One such story that I think real was one my mother heard. Real because, while perhaps naive, a storyteller or a liar she wasn’t.

Apparently one of the ladies in Sandpoint in the late 50s or early 60s was hanging laundry on an outside line one late summer morning when she noticed a large, short-haired black and white cat sitting on the roof of her unattached garage.

While there was nothing unusual about this, as a couple of the neighborhood cats wold often climb the nearby tree and leap over to the roof, she had not seen this particular animal before.

She watched the cat wash its face with a paw, then stop abruptly to turn and look directly at her. In that instant, something flashed at its neck. At first, she assumed it was a collar, but the light didn’t seem like a sun reflection; it was more artificial, like from a small, bright pen light.

The cat, which had been sitting, suddenly got up and walked toward the tree. Blinking from the sun’s glare, the woman saw the cat was suddenly gone. She assumed it had reached the tree and climbed down. Before her blink, though, it had been strolling fairly slowly and had been a dozen feet from the branches. How could it have moved that distance in the time of a blink?

The woman forgot about the odd sighting until the following spring, when she was sitting under the patio with her neighbor enjoying the first warm, spring day. Her guest pointed to the roof of the garage. Turning, the housewife saw what appeared to be the same cat sitting on the edge of the roof, looking down at the two women.

Not taking her eyes off the cat, the housewife related the sighting from the previous summer to her guest. Sure enough, this cat now looking down at them had what appeared to be a small stone on a collar that flashed once. This time, the sun’s angle could not be an explanation.

Then, just as he had done eight months earlier, the cat got up and walked out of sight. Both women got up and stepped further away from the garage so as to see most of the roof. The cat was gone. This time the housewife, trailed by her guest, hurried to the tree at the rear of the garage only to see no sign of the cat.

Over the next few years the story got around the neighborhood, but there was only one more unconfirmed sighting by a new arrival to the neighborhood.

In 1965, the housewife’s husband’s cousin had purchased a small cabin at Priest Lake and they were invited to come up and stay for a couple of days. So late on a Friday morning the couple set off, arriving in time for lunch at the cousin’s four-room cabin at Reeder Bay.

Chicken and salmon were cooking on the small, native-stone barbecue on the small patio overlooking the lake, about 100 feet away.

While her husband and his cousin caught up with the family news and manned the grill, the housewife sat talking with her cousin-in-law’s wife and teenage daughter. After a few minutes of light conversation, the two women noticed the daughter looking at the lake and a large piece of driftwood—actually, a small tree trunk—on the shore.

Sitting on that large piece of driftwood was what looked like the same cat she had seen on her garage roof twice back in Sandpoint. She was sure it was the same animal. Taken aback for a moment, her cousin-in-law suddenly spoke up. “That’s the same cat we saw up here last fall. I wonder whose it is?” At this the cat, which had been looking out over the water, turned and looked directly at the women. And again, a jewel in his collar glowed briefly and the animal casually got up, turned and walked behind a clump of reeds.

When it did not appear from the other side of the growth, the three women got up and walked to the shore. There was no cat, anywhere. No lace for it to go except into the water, and cats usually take to water only when there is no other choice.

The three females hurried back to the deck and their husbands.

The housewife never saw the cat again, but over the next few years, two of her friends and neighbors swore they had seen it on or near their property.

What had transpired over a period of years. Was it the same cat, apparently not having aged and having been seen by several people, once miles away, and would disappear after his collar blinked or glowed? Was it a mis-observation? An exaggeration of the sighting of a normal cat, told by bored housewives to amuse one another? Or was it a cat able to move through time, responding to its master in the future calling it in for the day?

Legends say that cats do have special or mysterious abilities, but then what of the apprent piece of technology around its neck?

If you have a myth or urban legend to share, please let me know through the River Journal or at fury_larry(at)yahoo.com.

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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cats, time travel

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