Thursday, May 22, 2014

I Prepared for Years to Blame This on Tom . . .

Most of you who have read these musings for a long time know that we love everything about our pets.  Well, almost everything.  There is this one issue I had with Tom for years (if you’re not familiar with our tomcat, you can click on this link for a retrospective on his life when he died 15 months ago).


Tom spent about half of his time as a housecat until a bout of toxoplasmosis at age three changed his personality enough that he started “spraying” different areas in the house.  So he was banished to the garage and the yard, except for times when he could be closely supervised when he was in the house.  We still caught him spraying occasionally, but it was several years before we discovered his primary focus . . .


This is the air conditioner compressor (or what’s left of it) behind our house.  It didn’t always look this bad, but we started to notice rust and the fins started rotting away.  And we wondered what was causing it until one day when we saw Tom applying his own personal cleaning solution to it.  The vet told us that once a cat chooses a place to spray, it’s really hard to make it stop.  And by then, the damage was done.  So we let Tom continue and the compressor looked more gruesome over the years, but an occasional blast of Freon kept it running.

Every now and then I would tell someone that I hoped the compressor would outlive Tom . . .

And it did, by a year – but a couple of weeks ago when it finally got hot enough to need the air conditioner, it didn’t cool the house a bit.  This wasn’t uncommon – we’ve been there every year or two since the spraying began.  So I called Bill Jones (my heating and air conditioning guy – in our area, he is simply the best) and he came by and gave the compressor another precious blast of Freon – which now costs $60.00 per pound.

The house was blissfully cool again – for a whole day.  By the next morning, I suspected that the A/C wasn’t working right again and the inside temperature kept rising during the day.  So I called Bill again, and in the conversation I mentioned that I had picked up an unusual smell in the house the evening after he had serviced the compressor.  He got it right away – “Was it an oily smell?”  When I confirmed it, he diagnosed a leak in the coil box under our furnace – and the next day, he confirmed that a huge leak in the coil box meant our 23-year-old air conditioner was deceased.

And he also confirmed that Tom did not cause its demise.  While I have been assured often that the compressor would have eventually given out because of his antics, I have to admit that my first comment when Bill told me the coil box was shot was “You mean Tom didn’t kill it?”  I actually felt a little guilty.  For years, every time I walked past that compressor I thought about how much that cat was going to eventually cost me.  And after the big bucks we had shelled out so he could survive toxoplasmosis in the first place, I always thought the least he could do was protect our home rather than destroy it.

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So yesterday I spent the day at home while Bill installed a new system.  And the first thing I said when the compressor came out of the box was “It’s Tom-proof!”  The metal casing around this model would have prevented his spray from damaging the fins.  But that wouldn’t have crossed my mind when the house was built, and we didn’t have any pets then anyway.


  1. Well, it took a repairman to clear Tom of any wrongdoing! Tom must be snickering by now in the place where all dead cats go. The cause of why the air-conditioner died could've been dangerous, though. You were lucky it didn't cause a fire. Tom would not have wanted that. At least now, you have an AC unit that is cat-proof.

    Dennis Day @ Day Aire HVAC

  2. Thank you for being so kind and still caring for Tom when others would have just released him.
    You're a saint :)
    RIP Tom