Richmond Road Tiger King

Reporter saves cat, creates new friendship


Design by Anjel-Ali Ormond

Carson Sanders next to Joe Exotic, commonly known as the ‘tiger king’ on the popular Netflix show. Photograph of Carson and his cat taken on the night of him getting her at the Richmond Road Walmart gas station.

With the new Netflix documentary series “Tiger King” gaining so much popularity, I was thinking I could be deserving of a similar title… just on a much more domestic level. 

One day last October, I had to fill up on gas after getting back from a cross country meet late that night. I pulled up to a gas pump at the Neighborhood Walmart on Richmond Road and right as I stepped out of my vehicle I heard a faint and high-pitched meow. I looked over at the pump across from me and saw a tiny black ball of fuzz with some even tinier white paws. I tried to approach the tiny kitten which caused her to do something that made my heart sink. She took off towards Richmond. Thankfully I didn’t see her get into the road from where I was standing so I decided to carefully make my way over to where she ran.

I found the kitten in the ditch hiding on the inside ledge of one of the drainage holes with four open sides and a concrete top. I could tell it was obviously a long drop and with the cat on the inside edge, I didn’t want to find out how deep it was by her falling down it. So I put one arm in from the side and kept it right behind her so she couldn’t fall in, and grabbed her with my other hand. She managed to cooperate pretty well so I took her back to my car. But there was one problem. I still had to get gas.

The only thing for me to do is to put her in my car and close the door while I fill up my tank, so I did just that. When I finished and opened the door again she’s expectedly not sitting right where I left her. However, where she was was much more problematic than I anticipated. She had climbed up above my pedals and was within all the mechanics of my car. I couldn’t just leave her there and drive home because the moment I step on the gas pedal could potentially crush her. So I shined my flashlight up there and can easily see her, but she’s barely outside of my reach. I struggled for a while to try to reach up in there to grab her but with no success, wondering what everyone else getting gas thought I was doing.

Carson Sanders
Carson and his cat, Mabel, pose together.

After a long while of not being able to grab her, I do all I can with the few fingers that are able to make contact. I start to pet her. To my surprise, this actually begins to lure her out. She inched out very slowly but I just had to keep a few fingers petting her until she was where I could grab her. After taming her with love, I held her while I drove her to her new home.

We’ve had that kitten ever since and she is now the fearless cat known as Mabel, who often slaps my German Shepard in the face for fun. She has brought a lot of enjoyment to both the family and my other pets, but after saving her, she and I have become particularly good friends.

Carson’s new cat, Mabel. Carson Sanders

Only nine days later, on the very same road (Richmond, can’t get any more dangerous than that) I heard another faint meow as I stepped out of my car to go to Starbucks. I got down and looked under the cars and looked up in the nearby trees, but the sound could be traced to nowhere. After being forced to accept that the source of the mysterious meow may be on its own, I chose to sit in the window seat inside. That’s when the show began. I got to see each person who parked visibly hear the sound of the meow, look under the cars and in the trees, and eventually admit defeat. It was a game of who would find the mystery cat, and boy was it entertaining to watch.

Each person went through nearly the same process as I did until I overheard one person who had been looking in the tree walk in and ask for a broom or stepladder. There was finally a winner to this game of mystery and they had found the kitten in the tree, so hidden that the rest of us missed it.

After watching the first few people attempt to get the kitten down, it was about time for me to leave. I parked right next to the tree so I figured I’d see how things were going with the cat. The original group had gathered a bit more of a crowd at this point, and one man was practically in the tree trying to reach it with a broom. Suddenly the cat practically falls into my hands but quickly takes off running down the street. I ran after the kitten, catching up to it at the Richmond roadside curb in front of Chick-fil-a, thankful that it didn’t get further into the street. This kitten was a lot more feral looking and acting than the last one so it was putting up a fight as I held her. Luckily, one of the ladies who had originally found her asked to take her home which was good for me because my parents would not have been happy if I brought home another cat less than two weeks after the last, which I probably still would’ve done if no other options were presented. 

After all of this, I’m left wondering what the odds are that I would catch two stray cats on the same road within a nine-day span. And as I’m writing this with Mabel laying next to me, I am thankful for the both of us that I found her that day.