Citizens implored to stay indoors or risk an encounter with the purr-petrator.
ESIDENTS OF a normally tranquil Bloomington, Indiana neighborhood have been shaken out of their usual sense of security since reports of a stalking stray cat first came to light last Friday evening.
Sergeant Tracy Bellows, lead investigator of the Feline Criminal Unit, recalled that "a clearly shaken and sneezing citizen ran into our precinct at approximately 2100 hours on the evening in question and pointed us to the South end of Prescott Street. I and another officer witnessed the gray-striped tail of the alleged nuzzling offender heading West on 2nd Avenue. We gave chase, but the suspect could not be apprehended due to its ability to climb trees and hide.
"We subsequently received an additional five calls that evening from citizens who had either been directly nuzzled, or threatened with nuzzling but somehow managed to escape."
Sergeant Bellows added that the M.O. of the stalking cat "is the same in every case. It stealthily approaches its victim from behind, circles the left leg once or twice, then boldly and without provocation proceeds to nuzzle the victim's ankle while engaging in audible purring.
"It was just horrible," admitted "Jack," who wished to be identified only by the first name he'd always wanted.
"There we were, my wife and I, just taking a stroll on a beautiful summer evening, when all of a sudden while we're stopped at a curb, my wife looks down and sees this maniac cat nuzzling the hell out of her ankle. 'Who are you?' my wife screamed, but it just looked up at her and meowed in this offhand way, as if it hadn't done, well, this disgusting nuzzling thing. Then it just ran behind some bushes and disappeared.
"I'm not sure when my wife will get back to her normal self," said Jack, holding back emotion but loving the new name. "She just sort of sits there, staring into space and rubbing her ankle all the time, muttering, 'There's more cat hair, I can feel it.' And I was right there, and I couldn't stop it in time. Oh, God."
Neighbors in the stray cat's vicinity are asked to "keep a sharp eye out for any unusual behaviors in your family pets" as these may act as warning signs that a predator is near. Such behaviors might be a house cat pacing its door flap, or a pet gerbil running its treadmill faster than usual.
"I can't tell you how fast is too fast for your personal gerbil," said Sergeant Bellows. "That's why we keep hammering home the same message, day in and day out, because it could save you from becoming the next victim: 'Know your gerbil, and know it well.'"
© 9.14.09 Kate Heidel