By Joselyn Watkins

During the Party Rock fire, things were very serious. It became quite personal when we received a late night call to pre-evacuate. No one slept well that night. Of course we had watched the fire consuming the mountains from across the lake. However, the late night call made us think more seriously about what we would pack before leaving. We might have stayed if the air quality had not been so poor. But there was a threat of high winds carrying the fire down Buffalo Shoals Road.

We usually leave Tucker, our look alike to the TV Garfield cat, to watch the house with a close neighbor checking on him every few days, but this was different. So Tucker went with us to our daughter’s house in Simpsonville where he would keep company with two Labrador dogs and two other cats.

The host cats Sly and Eli and dogs Lola and Molly were very hospitable, but Tucker appeared to be a little awe struck by the avalanche of pets and hissed, sneered, got his back up and hid under the bed for long periods of time. He also was not used to using a litter box as he is an indoor-outdoor cat at Lake Lure.

Now Tucker has an interesting background as he has had quite a few foster parents. His name is really Dittmer Dittmer Watkins Watkins.

Let me explain. Jennifer Dittmer having taken a job in the west could not keep Tucker in that given apartment. The Dittmers pleaded her case with us, the Watkins. At the outset we were not too amenable to the idea as we had two dogs. But then our son and wife entered the scene and felt sorry for Tucker taking him to Charlotte to live with them. But alas, Tucker and Clay and Marie’s cats did not take kindly to each other and their reaction was to spray the walls and carpets with their bodily fluids. Clay and Marie had to take up carpeting and even hardwood floors. But they didn’t complain as they loved Tucker. However, the senior Watkins at Lake Lure took pity on the young couple and invited Tucker to come live with them.

Tucker has been an idol indoor-outdoor cat from that day hence low those eight or nine years ago. So Tucker’s first long distance ride was to Simpsonville evacuating from the Party Rock Fire.

He only had to stay two nights and he was thankful that this was the case.

Leaving Simpsonville and returning to Lake Lure happened on early Monday morning. Chuck was packing the car and observed Tucker, so he thought, as the cat jumped into the trunk with the luggage. “This was great”, thought Chuck, assuming that Tucker was anxious to get back home. So unwittingly, Chuck put Tucker in the car where he proceeded to curl up in the back window watching Chuck finish the ritual of packing.

It did seem strange that on the way to Lake Lure the cat cried an inordinate amount. We stopped in Columbus for dinner and in doing so got water for the poor feline. After Columbus he came up front and laid quietly on Chuck’s lap supposedly consoled. Tucker had never acted in such a manner, but we thought it was the automobile ride and the quick visit with all of the animals that had upset him.

It wasn’t until that evening after the cat we thought was Tucker came to the door to be let in that I noticed his tail had a ring of white fur on the very end of it. I gasped as I opened the door and yelled, “Wrong Cat!!” Chuck said, “What”. I repeated, ”Wrong Cat”.

We couldn’t believe it, we had mistakenly, in our haste to get back to Lake Lure, taken Sly in place of Tucker.

In our defense look at the picture of the cats along with this article. Also, in our defense, maybe Sly wanted a vacation and planned in his not so subtle way to come home with us. At our house he was able to sit on the couch where at his house he is pushed off by the dogs.

We needed a good laugh at this point in our lives and those we have shared the story with have needed it too.

Needless to say our daughter checked which cat we were taking after returning Sly to Simpsonville.