An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation


Let’s start this off by reminding everyone that the woman who sold us this house used to let a bobcat sleep in the shed. A bobcat who seemed nice because it purred. She told us this after she had walked us through the house to “explain” a few things. Only, later we found out that all those explanations were lies. So we started to think that maybe it was a mythical bobcat. Which, hey. That’s kind of awesome. We bought a house with its own mythical bobcat. What can your house do?

And then the first few nights we slept here we heard critters in the ceiling above our bedroom. No problem! Call the critter catchers! People so enthusiastic about their jobs that if they don’t come out of a crawl space without a few scratches in the face and a missing earlobe, they consider it a wasted day.

Now, they couldn’t assure us that it wasn’t a possum or raccoon or WHATNOT, but they were pretty certain there were just a whole bunch of birds nesting in the soffit of our roof. Those birds now have homes elsewhere, except… we’re still hearing noises here and there. Nothing like before, but enough that we think maybe the critter catcher wanted to screw with us and left behind a few tenants. And if that were the case, how do you get back at a critter catcher? It’s not like you could break into their house and let loose a bucket of snakes. They’d wake up and be all, CHRISTMAS!

So. Fast forward to Monday, my birthday. Things were normal until Marlo disappeared from sight for less than ten seconds. We didn’t even hear the usual thud, but once she started crying I came to her rescue only to find that she had somehow chipped off half of one of her four teeth. HALF.

Double-you. Tee. Eff.

Billy Bob
That tooth is now so sharp we’re afraid she’s going to slice her lip open. Or, worse, since she’s taken to head-butting her sister when she doesn’t get her way, use that tooth to commit felony homicide.

Please someone assure me that this has happened to their infant and that the solution doesn’t involve the use of a tool you’d buy at a hardware store.

Then my father called and said he wanted to stop by and drop off a birthday present, which is awesome except that he was driving all the way over from his house. His house that is located so far to the west that he has to be careful backing out of his driveway so that the car doesn’t fall off the edge of the earth.

So I took that time to write a little bit of a letter to myself to commemorate my birthday. And about a couple paragraphs in I knew I wanted to include one of my baby pictures in the post. I keep all of my baby pictures in a black scrapbook with acid-free paper (so very Mormon of me, I know!) that I remembered setting aside before the move. But no amount of hunting or turning over boxes could locate it. I hunted through the entire office, off into the basement where all the boxes that haven’t been unpacked are sitting like lonely little prisoners who violated probation by leaving the country and partying in Cannes and… oops. Wrong prisoner.

In the back of my mind I knew my dad was on his way over, so I ran up to the office to see if maybe Jon had shoved some of my stuff into one of the closets up there. Two of the closets are finished and have walls and floors, but the other four open up into the attic crawl space and are filled with air conditioning duct work and insulation. I hadn’t checked any of those closets yet, so I moved some boxes out of the way, flung open the door to the closet at the far south of the house, and standing not a foot away from my face was a very large, very hairy animal with giant shining eyes.

Okay. What would you have done in this situation?


That’s what I thought.

I slammed the door, had a heart attack, died, came back to life, and then ran screaming down two flights of stairs. SC-RAH-HEAMING. It just kept coming out of my mouth involuntarily. I couldn’t stop it: AAAAAHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH!

The whole time thinking OH MY GOD I FOUND THE MYTHICAL BOBCAT.

I ran into the kitchen still screaming AAAAAHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH! And Jon is all, dude, are the kids okay? And I was like, THE KIDS? Are you kidding? The mythical bobcat could have jumped out of that closet and clawed my face off! I’m lucky to be alive!

It took several minutes for him to calm me down enough to talk coherently:

What had I seen? I didn’t know, I didn’t get a very good look, but it was really hairy and looked like a cat! A big cat!

Was I sure it was a cat? I DIDN’T KNOW. I wasn’t going to spend the time inspecting the intruder only to have it jump out and tackle me to the ground! YOU GO LOOK.

But, Heather, you know how allergic I am to cats. I can’t go look. YOU DON’T LOVE ME.

At this point I saw Tyrant grab a broom, and I said, please! Please don’t hurt it if you find it! And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m just going to give it a little shove.” And then he walked over to the stove and grabbed the butcher knife.

Jon and Tyrant both started laughing, and I was like SERIOUSLY. THERE IS A FOREIGN ANIMAL IN OUR HOUSE. So Jon straightened up a bit, ran to the basement and grabbed an old dog crate. Then he handed it to Tyrant and bid him good luck.

My father finally arrived, and I was a total mess. He and my stepmother sat in the living room while I paced the kitchen and tried to engage in conversation that had nothing to do with wild, fanged animals. Nearly impossible. How was your drive over, dad? Were you chased by any tigers?

A few minutes later Tyrant walked into the living room, broom in one hand, crate in the other.

“Heather,” he said gravely. “It’s a good thing you found this cat when you did. It’s skin and bones. I doubt it would have survived another day.”



Wait a minute, it’s not a mythical bobcat? You mean a poor little cat has been stuck in our attic crawl space? Am I allowed to bawl uncontrollably on my 35th birthday without looking like I’m pining for my youth?

I called animal control immediately hoping they’d arrive before the poor thing collapsed from dehydration, and after they showed up Tyrant told me to spend some time with my father while he walked around the neighborhood to do some investigation. I did everything I could to focus on my father who had travelled light years to wish me a happy birthday, but all I could think was, how long had that cat been in the attic? How did it get in there? How could it have survived without food or water? Why can’t we all just get along and save the world?

I apologized to him for being so preoccupied. And he was like, Heather, do you not remember taking road trips years ago, and if you saw a dead animal by the side of the road everyone had to assure you that it was taking a nap? Because otherwise you’d cry for three days? You just started your thirty-fifth year of life by saving an animal. And it didn’t cost him any money. So, good day all around!

And now I’m going to cry just typing the end of this:

Tyrant got some information from a neighbor who was pretty sure that the cat was the pet of another neighbor. He found that woman’s phone number, called her, and said, I don’t know if you’re missing a cat, but— and she couldn’t talk she was crying so hard. Yes, she was missing a cat. In fact, the cat had been missing for four weeks. She’d gone around the neighborhood before we moved in asking everyone if they had seen him. And after four weeks, she’d given up hope. She was currently in Oregon, but she’d have a friend go and pick him up. His name is Diego.

She had never been on good terms with the previous owner of this house, and she’s certain that Diego was locked in that closet intentionally. I can’t let my mind go there.

If it hadn’t been my birthday, I never would have walked into that closet, never would have found Diego. Yesterday the owner flew in from Oregon to see him and thank us. And I was like, don’t thank me, thank my mom! She went into labor on July 19th, and that’s why I opened that door.

He’s going to be totally okay.

However, I’m still a little jumpy and afraid to open closets.

  • francabollo

    You’ll have to give us an update on your little hillbilly, Marlo.

    As for the cat … who is this Tyrant and does he have a twin in San Francisco? We should all have our own Tyrant or at least his calm, compassionate intelligence. Thank your stars you found him. But the cat … oy … that’s a heart tugger but this one has a happy outcome.

    For your 35th, I’d say this was a pretty memorable day. And belated B-day.

  • kdjmom3

    Best. Post. Ever.

  • Tobie

    Oh s—, that was a traumatic story 🙁 . And on your birthday too!!

    I hope this helps – I have worked with “community disputes” as part of my job and people ALWAYS say nasty things about their neighbors – “I bet he done killed dat dere cat!,” etc. So, just because the lady is ACCUSING her, doesn’t mean it’s TRUE. Cats are perfectly capable of getting into all sorts of mischief on their own! But seriously, you don’t know for a fact that it’s true, so you can’t assume, u know. Hope that helps to calm u down…

  • carolfrog

    {snif} That whole thing makes me want to cry. 🙂

  • Wombat Central

    You CANNOT make that shit up. Crazy lady stashing cats in her closet. Holy crap. Lucky you found kitteh and could reunite him w/ his owner. Yay for happy endings (and birthdays!).

  • reelmomof4

    OK, the only thing I can say all the way around your entire day is “awwww!!!” That, and my eldest son (who is now 15) has knocked more teeth out of our younger son (now 10.5 ~ the .5 is crucial)than those that have actually fallen out! Mishaped teeth, wobbly teeth, broken teeth. Well, that, and the younger one knocked two of his own out. And we aren’t even rednecks from the “hollars” of W.Va. Really.

  • SurprisingWoman

    I need the address of where the asshat you bought your house from lives now. She has a little ‘splaining to do and then we are going to take a little drive together.

    Thank goodness you looked in there.

  • hapi07

    Oh my Heather, that was hilarious. I was expecting a terrifying picture of some rabid raccoon or something – not a kitty!!! lol What a happy ending though – so glad the cat is safe. But I’m so surprised it wasn’t up there meowing, driving you crazy! Most cats would never shut up! Maybe he was up there hunting all the other critters left behind?

    As for your cute little hillbilly baby… they will probably just file it down a little bit so she doesn’t hurt herself. Maybe a gold cap or something… :p

  • val0552

    First, Marlo – sooo, so cute! My little sister broke a tooth as a child and it worked out fine. Secondly, what kind of monster intentionally locks another living being up just to prove she is evil?????? Thank goodness you found Diego!

    I live in a very old house (100+ years old) an occasionally get squirrels who hole up between the first and second floor of our home. That’s scary enough, I cannot even imagine what a cat would sound like! Bless you Heather!

  • jlkmustang

    My nephew broke his tooth only a few months after it came in. The dentist ended up having to extract it, so the poor kid is missing one of his front teeth until his adult teeth come in!

    That is so sad about the kitty!! So glad you found him. Very touching post.

  • MsMo

    Can I just say, all I want to do is give you a hug. It’s gonna be ok.

    You’re not the first to break your kid, trust me.
    When I was 5 or 6? My dad was rough housing with me around the pool he picked me up and chucked me into the pool, but I fell short and I got some wicked road rash on my shoulder and from my ribs down to my knees from the pool deck.

    I also busted my gums and lips open when I was learning to walk because I used the coffee table sort of like a walker and pushed it too far away.

    Just remember the plasticity of those youngins’.
    At this age they do bounce a lot better.

  • BrieanneW

    After reading this post I had to give in and join the community. I read this one three times just so I could laugh out loud again. I can hear the screaming because it sounds like the screaming I did when I found a possum in the garage before early morning hell (seminary) and no one believed me for days. I’m glad your house guest didn’t have a mouth full of fangs. Well, now Marlo has one. But it’s a cute one. So I think you should keep that critter around.

    p.s. if I am forced to move to Utah next year, please tell me where I can find a friend like you.

  • Lindra

    I need a Tyrant around my house too.

    I hope he can also fix Marlo’s tooth.

  • lisaann

    Marlo is now the spitting image of Sunny Baudelaire in “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

  • appgirl123

    I feel you Heather. I cry at every single ASPCA commercial. Screw you Sarah McLaughlin for making me cry! On another note, very glad you found Diego, and hopefully that takes care of the scurrying noises!

  • blackpanther

    GoodLordAlmighty. My stomache went in my throat when I saw Marlo’s tooth…I would have freaked out for sure. I can’t believe your daughter broke a tooth and you found your neighbor’s missing cat all on your birthday. I’d have been spent. I’m glad Diego’s going to make it though…

  • jenstate

    Seriously, Heather. It’s like the crazy HUNTS YOU DOWN!

  • debhayford

    That woman! argh – total nut job… Thank God you found him! Maybe this was the “bob cat” she was referring to…

  • marymoo24

    Holy crap. That is all.
    And, it was obviously Diego’s VERY lucky day!

  • Meejjo

    Crazy story. Crazy! Also, we have the same birthday. I got so excited to read that the other day, squealed in my chair, and turned to tell my boss that I share a birthday with the lady who writes my favorite blog. She was not as excited as I was (am). Probably something to do with misuse of company time/computer/fun. Anyway, happy late one!

  • doobrah

    I’m not a cat person, but there’s a special place in He!! waiting for that previous homeowner who would do such a thing to someone’s pet. She’s created some bad karma for herself, but hopefully not the house. And your instincts about the critter catchers is right on– there’s no way they didn’t notice a weak and emaciated animal up there. Wait — do I hear two bells? Oh, that’s just you & Tyrant getting your wings.

  • FishyLibrarian

    Sorry about Marlo’s tooth, and glad Diego is safe and sound. But if we can be serious for a second here…where does one find someone like Tyrant who will willingly grab the necessary implements, head off in search of some unknown beast in the attic, retrieve said beast and then scour the nieghbourhood to find its rightful owner? The definition of ‘Other Duties as Assigned’ on a job description just got a whole lot broader. Please pay him handsomely…he’s clearly a keeper.

  • Katie Kat

    OMG! Seriously – think about it! If you hadn’t bought THAT house (instead of the other one you thought you loved), and bought it EXACTLY when you did, that poor kitty would have died! I hope the previous owner dies a lonely, sad, scary death, VERY SLOWLY and with nobody around to help her. God people are so evil sometimes!

    YAY for Diego being okay!!!!!!!

  • lkarelee

    I seriously doubt that the former owner intentionally locked a cat in the closet. I bought a house that had a cat trapped in the chimney – and my brother once sold a car that had the neighbor’s cat in the trunk. The unsuspecting new owners didn’t find it for 3-4 days and they had drive the car several hundred miles.

    Cats may be sweet and loyal, but they are fundamentally stupid and their curiosity gets them into all kinds of trouble.

  • crystalsheward

    My son chipped off half of his front tooth when he was 22 months old (right before Christmas). He now has a permanent cap. He looks totally normal. I’d assume since Marlo is so young your pediatric dentist may want to wait until the tooth grows in fully before capping it but there is a fix. Also, definitely take her to a pediatric dentist either way to make sure that there aren’t any nerves/pulp exposed. Oh, fair warning, this whole process may involve a contraption known as the ‘papoose’ which is a full body straight jacket for your child. But hey, at least she won’t look like a hillbilly until she’s 7. 🙂

  • Samara

    Great read, poor kitty. My daughter chipped her two front teeth at 18 months by falling mouth-first on the sidewalk. She is 4.5 now, and it has not bothered her. I can’t wait for the baby teeth to come out. If Marlo’s tooth is sharp, the dentist can file it down. Good luck!

  • Lisa Dickie

    Happy Birthday Heather from another mom that turned 35 this month and let me tell you that your bday was way more exciting than mine. I’d like to add to your accomplishments that you are an inspiration. Seeing you on Oprah a while back and checking out your blog, I realized I can do this. Maybe not as well, but I can do this. By this I mean be articulate, be funny, be honest and most importantly be real. I can totally relate to wanting to slow down the pace of life because it is going by way too fast! As far as your little lady’s tooth, I fell when I was a toddler and my front tooth turned blue and stayed that way for years until it fell out. I am reminded only during talks of hands free driving. She is still sweet and beautiful!

  • Plano Mom

    Snaggle Tooth… friend’s kid. She was 2, so the dentist went ahead and pulled it out. Said the others would make room, and she’d probably need braces when the permanent ones came in.

    Cat in attic… I was expecting possum. That is so sad, and so happy at the same time.

    I am very thankful you found it before it died. For so many reasons.

    Now… please tell me you’ve given up on chickens.

  • Kristi

    OMG… hilarious post, Heather!
    It is pure magic how this stuff happens to you. I say “magic” because it makes for awesome blog posts.
    I, too, want to know how poor Diego escaped the notice of Miss Crazy Coco. How could she have missed a kitty in the house? Chuck… well, I can see how finding warm sunny spots would take priority.
    Titling this post “Susan” was just perfect! LOL
    Tyrant totally NEEDS a raise, since the man is clearly a saint… and Marlo looks adorable even with half a tooth.
    And I concur with @DaddyScratches about the whole need-to-lie-down.

    P.S. My captcha: bummed adequate
    Adequately bummed? I suppose so…

  • sarahmichelef

    What the??? I hope Marlo gets sorted quickly. FWIW, my cousin (now in his 30s) took a header out of his stroller at around 15 months and spent the rest of his baby-tooth-dom with a hole where that tooth had been. It was cute.

    Perhaps I’m feeling particularly sappy because we took in our own stray feline ( on Monday, but… the thought of crazy house lady deliberately locking up poor Diego makes me soooo mad.

  • SteffernieA

    Firstly – poor Marlo! But you know, vampires are ‘in’ these days and she can totally pull that look off!

    Secondly, I am also having critter issues, but they’re up all night, and in the wall BEHIND MY HEAD!

    The saga:

    The latest – friggin ultrasonic plug-in rodent repellents don’t work, and now it just sounds like we’re sleeping under a power line.

  • MamaBee

    My daughter did a flying leap out of her crib during naptime and I ran in to find her sitting on the floor, crying with a newly chipped front tooth. I feel your pain. She’s 13 now and that tooth is now in a nice little jar on my dresser. Love that you found Diego and he is reunited with his owner. Very cool story!

  • Just Jill

    No way could you be having this much drama. And the picture of Marlo’s tooth – photoshopped – it has to be. 😉 (of course I’m KIDDING people! Don’t start the hate replies!)

    But, your life is definitely stranger than fiction; you really couldn’t make this shit up. You’re not cursed, are you? Not that I’m a witch doctor or anything, but I’ll send some good ju-ju your way.

    Keep up the hugely entertaining sagas – however, I hope life calms down for you a little bit. Cheers!

  • minxlj

    Wow, that’s one hell of a story! Happy birthday, and happy Diego! He’s a beautiful cat and I’m so glad you found him in time. What a lovely ending 🙂 Your dream home is full of adventures already! x

  • amandalk

    Okay 1, I’m so happy your neighbor got her cat back. Poor little thing. And seriously, what kind of psycho lived in that house before?

    But 2, and this has been bothering me since yesterday, how in the hell did your critter catchers manage to find and evict several birds BUT MISS A CAT?!

  • Mrs. Q.

    Can’t. Even. Fathom. How on earth do these things happen to you? I was screaming in my head as I read this because I can only imagine those two glowing eyes looking at me.

    Oh, that poor cat. I can’t imagine if that was intentional. Let’s lock up a cat but let a wild animal sleep in the shed. That’s balanced.

    But such a happy ending. And since she was up there so long, she probably did more work than a critter catcher ever would.

  • spedrson

    My son chipped his two front teeth when he bit into a lollipop on Halloween when he was 18 months old. I was heartbroken that his perfect little teeth were “ruined”! He’s now 7 and has two ginormous “chiclet” teeth in their place! I couldn’t wait until he lost those 2 teeth go put an end to my mommy guilt!

  • souphead

    poor kitty! best birthday story ever.
    i hope, other than the moster-in-the-closet trauma, you had a wonderful 35th. you whippersnapper you.

  • juliemewood

    So funny and sweet all at the same time. Heather, your writing is so awesome!! You have a gift!

  • carabella

    Thank you for your contribution to my mental health today.

    In one post, you had me hysterically laughing, laughing til I cried and then bawling like a baby. Lots of tears for one amazing story- and an amazing cat.

    Happy belated birthday!

  • Ben

    We heard our cat Sam meowing but we couldn’t find him. Sure enough he was stuck in the attic! He got in there through our attached garage. With the garage door open he jumped on top of the car, from there to the top of the garage door, then to the garage rafters, finally finding the small hole into the attic. The hole is right at the roof over-hang of the house. It’s hard to see unless your looking for it. It’s probably a tough spot for drywallers to fill in. It’s also a critter guy secret too. With Sam out of the attic, we blocked his access hole to it off. His response was to find the next highest place to get stuck, the top of the roof.

  • Chipperific

    can i just tell u that i almost started crying at the end of that post?! Diego is the spitting image of my cat Chip! im seriously freaked out how much they look alike. i can only show you a picture because these is waaaaaay too freaky! note the facial marking!! im going to change my profile picture to Chip so u can see!!!!!!

  • suesheeme

    If Dooce had a Best-Of section, this post would appear at the top. Amazing post. Your storytelling skills are sharper than ever at the ripe old age of 35.

    Hey, how about starting a Best-Of section, and letting users nominate posts, ala Craig’s List?

    Also, the post was amazing, but why name it Susan? Is that the crazy lady (I assume so)? I think Diego should have been granted title to that post.

    I admire your perspective and ability to see the tiny miracles that occur in everyday life. Happy Birthday!

  • Aubrey

    When my little brother was four he climbed to the top of the bunk beds he shared with my sister, tied a jump rope to the bed post, put the other end in his mouth and jumped. Like Tarzan! He pulled out his top two front teeth, and had a gaping hole there for the next two years until his adult teeth came in. We thought he’d grow up to be a stunt man, but he’s starting college in the fall to be an electrical engineer.

  • christinenicole1

    Thank you so much for the anti-climatic clarification…now i can sleep at night without waking to check your site for an update. LOL! Seriously though, Doh! I feel silly for not putting that together myself. Of course that is what you meant!
    Congrats on the house…i adore your blog. and hey, just cause i can say it here…i had postpartum depression, too. Yuck!

  • mrscunning14

    This is not about me, but this morning my daughter fell out of her crib. As in, the little monkey used her bumper as a boost and climbed out of her damn crib!!! What are we feeding these babies?!?!?

    I’m so sorry about Marlo’s tooth. My advice (and you may have gotten this already amongst these comments I did not read) would be to take her to a dentist for a quick check, and perhaps a filing of the sharp edge that may be used as a weapon?

    Wow, that cat story is something else. Kudos to you, blessed one, for freeing that cat. 🙂 Now *that’s* a meaningful birthday!

    And I did actually chuckle out loud at the mental image of Jon and Tyrant laughing while you scream wild eyed and Tyrant holds a butcher knife.

  • itcouldbelove

    This was pretty much the best post ever. But I’m obsessed with cats, so you can see why I might think that. Seriously, though, I am glad you were born and rescued that kitty! 😉

  • Sabine

    I think I love your Tyrant, that cool, calm solver of problems. That rescuer of lost cats. That hunter-down of desperate owners. Reliable, capable, proactive. What more could one want in a Tyrant? (I loved this post. Thanks for sharing it with us.)

  • Ezza

    Okay. I have now just picked myself up off the floor, had a shower, made a coffee, taken some selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors, and am ready to respond to this.

    I just bawled my eyes out for Diego. Our last cat went out one morning and never came back and we were just beside ourselves with grief. We still struggle to talk about her. I know you and John aren’t cat people- but you’re pet people – you have no idea how happy that Oregon cat owner would be right now.

    I have been in that position, Heather – somebody’s life has been put back together by what happened on your birthday. We have a beautiful 2 year old pussy cat now, I’ve just gone and given her a big cuddle. She is confused and has bitten me, but that’s okay becuase she’s here and she’s safe and isn’t living in the Armstrong’s roof.


  • Brittewater

    Oh my gosh, I cried at the end of that story. I am so happy you guys found Diego.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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