VERMILION — The apprehension wasn’t typical, but then neither was the prisoner.
While on patrol in the early morning hours Tuesday, a police officer found a different sort of character than the usual speeding drivers, petty thieves and felons.
It was 5 a.m. when the cruiser drove through the 700 block of Arlington Drive on the east side of town, and the wind chill was dipping into single digits. The officer spotted an odd-looking box in the front yard of a home.
The box was a framed wire cage. Inside it, exposed to the frigid air, was a cat.
“It was really cold out and by the time we brought him in, he wasn’t doing so good. He wasn’t moving much,” said Police Chief Chris Hartung.
The property owners of the home were contacted, and it wasn’t their cat. Nothing about the cage — which looks possibly homemade — or the blanket in the bottom gave any clues where the cat might have come from.
Officers took the cat, an apparently healthy seal point Siamese with blue eyes, to Harbor Town Animal Clinic to check its condition and see if maybe it carried a chip to identify an owner. They determined the Siamese to be a male between 5 and 8 years old, but there was no chip and no one there recognized the cat.
So the cage, the cat and a hastily purchased litter box were brought back to the police station to wait.
“Right now, we’re waiting to hear from a couple shelters that specialize in cats, seeing if one of them wants to come and take this little fellow,” Hartung said.
The Siamese spent the day “manning dispatch, so he is available to take calls,” Hartung said.
The chief said the cat appears to be friendly, although he is steering clear of him.
“I’m allergic to cats. This thing is murdering me,” Hartung said. “But somebody’s got to do it. He will be here until we find him a good home or a shelter takes him.”
After the cat’s saga was posted on the department’s Facebook page, several people called to volunteer to take him, but Hartung said the police have to make sure there is some sort of vetting in place.
“We can’t just give him to anybody, we have to make sure it’s a good place,” he said.
Police make regular checks in the neighborhood where the cat was found, and Hartung said maybe whoever left the cat was aware of that.
“Probably somebody saw the officers there and maybe figured it was like a baby on the steps of the fire station, like they could leave it there and it would be found and taken in. It’s odd that somebody would leave a cat, in a cage, in a front yard,” he said.
Police also are looking for tips from anyone who may have noted suspicious activity in the area overnight from Monday to Tuesday.
By Tuesday evening, the peaceful cat was curled up in a box — by his choice, said a dispatcher.
He doesn’t have a name, but Hartung jokingly said he was considering calling him “Benadryl.”
For information, visit facebook.com/VermilionPolice.