It was a strange sight. A bit surreal in a Halloween sort of way. But there was nothing whimsical or unreal about it.
As Sgt. David Arcieri of the Flagler Beach Police Department was patrolling on South Flagler Avenue at midday Wednesday, he heard what sounded like a cat meowing or screaming in the 1300 block of the avenue. And there it was: “I observed a black cat hanging from the top of the garage door,” he said in a report of the incident,” with its front paws and head stuck above the door, wedged between the door and the frame of the residence.” A black cat, no less.
The image the Flagler Beach Police Department provided tells the story. The cat hangs from its torso down parallel to the garage door. Its head and front paws are invisible. Absent sound or an explanation, the image suggests that the cat has been in a terrible accident that claimed all nine of its lives.
Not so. The cat was alive, but screaming.
Arcieri, a 10-year veteran of the Flagler Beach Police Department who was recently promoted, got to work as a rescuer. “I attempted to free the cat, but was unsuccessful,” he reported. The garage door would not budge far enough to free the animal. He called in Engine 11 from the Flagler Beach Fire Department. “They were able to push against the top of the garage door creating enough space that the cat’s upper body dropped down, freeing it.”
The cat then immediately went to the backyard. It had “a slight limp as it ran away.”
But–he–was fine, Diane Cline, the homeowner, said today, unraveling the mystery of the cat and how he got to that unlikely place between the garage door and the wall.
He was actually a stray. “The lady across the street has like a gazillion cat, sometimes they just show up, and I had a cat,” Cline said. “I would keep my door open, and because food was always available he’d come over here and kind of harass my cats.” And so he became the block’s cat.
He has many names, but Cline thinks Rico Suave suits him best: “He schmoozes up to everybody, it’s like he’s the king of the street,” Cline says. “He lies in the road. He’s wiry, like a street cat, but he’s very friendly. He owns this road. He’d lay in the road just kind of daring cars to go around him. He’s full of personality. So we were very happy to find out he’s OK, he’s up and around and eating and back to his normal self.”
As far as Cline can figure, this is what happened, as it happened to her own cat once, but not as painfully. Cline often leaves her garage door open, which means the door ends up parallel to the garage ceiling, creating the sort of cozy alcove cats love. Normally, the Suave One sits on top of Cline’s Jeep. Wednesday, he must’ve chosen the alcovish spot.
“I got in my vehicle then pulled out, pressed close, then took off not looking back,” Cline said. “That’s the only thing I could figure out.” When the same sequence had happened with her own cat, she was able to see the cat and get him freed immediately. In the Suave One’s case, she estimates he may have been caught in the door for about 10 minutes. “It’s really kind of embarrassing but I had no idea.” From now on Cline will false-start the door to ensure that nothing lurks there.
As for the cat, he’s back to his old royal self, even after the unhappy incident. “He was chilling under some plants, sitting, then the lady across the street she came over, she picked him up, was hugging him. He was very still.” Cline said the cat then wanted to get down. He did, and walked off. He’s now back to his old friendly self. “It’s like nothing happened now.” You can see him below in an image taken today by Cline.
Both Cline and her neighbor are thankful for Arcieri and the Flagler Beach Fire Department.