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Here, Kitty, Kitty


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It's 1 PM on a chilly Tuesday afternoon. I'm shooting baskets in Eckhart Park at Chicago and Noble when I notice three Park District employees, two men and a woman, standing outside the field house and watching a white van marked animal care control roll toward them over the newly planted grass.

"I told him to use the playground entrance," says the woman, looking anxious.

The van pulls up and out pop two burly dudes dressed in brown coveralls. One of them is holding a stick with a lasso dangling from the end.

The woman points to a black-and-orange cat lounging on a windowsill of the field house.

The guy wielding the stick approaches the cat. He clumsily--I mean really clumsily--flops the lasso toward the cat. The cord glances softly off the cat. The cat shrugs. The guy tosses the lasso again, a little more energetically, and the cat jumps up and darts under a nearby fence.

Everyone pauses. Very slowly, the would-be cat catcher follows the cat into a fenced-in area behind the concrete pool, where it's curled up in a corner. Again he lobs his lasso; again the cat darts away, escaping through a gap in the fence onto Noble, where it ducks underneath a parked car.

The cat catcher stops and stares at the cat. From under the car the cat stares back at him. The man takes a deep breath, turns around, and slowly walks back to his partner and the other three.

"Sorry to bring you out here and take up your time," says the woman.

"It's OK," says the cat catcher, throwing his lasso back in the van. "I should have caught him, but I'm not feeling too good today."

The big guys drive off. The cat trots out from underneath the car and back into the park.

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