Dr. Deyton’s Office Cats, Part 2: How Houdini Got Her Name

Our patients know that their visits to our office may sometimes include a cameo appearance by one of our office cats, Houdini (“Hou” for short) and Gracie, who live and play in the grassy area next to the Deyton Dentistry office building. From many of the rooms in the office, you can see the cats as they walk over to check their food bowls or stretch out for a nap near their cold-weather shelter. According to some patients, spotting Gracie or Houdini just outside the window is the highlight of their visit!

Previously, I shared the story of Gracie’s Big Adventure. This next story is the answer to a common question from our patients—“How did Houdini get her name?”

Houdini’s story takes place a few years after I first met Mama Cat, who liked to hang out on the sidewalk near the back door of the office. After we had caught and spayed Gracie and Mama Cat, there was only one kitten left that needed to get fixed. A friend had let us borrow a Havahart humane trap, and we’d tried several times to entice the last kitten into that trap. Instead, we’d managed to catch everything BUT the kitten: a badger, a woodchuck, raccoons… you name it.

One day I was in the office late, waiting to see if that elusive kitten would finally go into the trap. Earlier that day, I had emptied the food dishes and then placed one dish of food in the Havahart trap, hoping that she’d be hungry enough to go for it. To my surprise, it worked! I heard a ruckus outside, and when I went out, she was running back and forth in the trap, trying to get out. I quickly put the trap in the back of the car and put a sheet over it, hoping that would calm her down. We’d made an early appointment for the next day to have this cat fixed. It was a very cool night, and I thought it might disturb this cat even more to be moved into our garage and then moved back into the car in the morning, so I left the trap in the back of the car overnight with the intent of taking this cat straight to the vet in a few hours. So my wife Jo got up early the next morning and decided to check on the cat. When she looked in the trap, it was empty!

This kitten had managed to escape from the trap somehow, but we thought she must still be somewhere in the car. Jo was looking all around in the trap and in the car and around the car, and I was really concerned. I finally decided that I would drive to the office and just park and open everything up, and if the cat was in there, she would hear the other cats and jump out of the car. I didn’t actually see her jump out, but we did spot her near the back door of the office later. We think what happened is that the back of the cage was loose enough so that she could squeeze out. Honestly, we’re not even totally sure that she actually made it into the car in the first place! Clearly, this cat was a magician. So we named her Houdini… but “Hou” for short.

Next time you are at our office for a visit, see if you can spot Hou or Gracie hanging around. If it’s their dinnertime, you might even see me sneaking out back to deliver their food!

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