Howe Principal: Pet Rescuer

As I walked through the school hallway toward a board workshop (Topic: Teacher Handbook), two ladies waved at me through glass doors. Stepping outside, they directed my attention to the two stray Calico cats wandering around their legs. Being a cold winter’s night in Wisconsin, they stated, “We don’t want them freezing to death tonight, or getting hit by a car.” Agreeing with this statement, I instructed the two ladies to call the police. “We don’t have a phone or their number”, they replied. Fortunately, I have that number memorized from my previous stint as a junior high assistant principal, so I called dispatch on my cell. I got transferred to the humane society. The guy on call stated they were short staffed and couldn’t come out to pick the cats up, but would you be willing to contain them and bring them to the facility?

After some deliberating, I agreed to find a way to get the cats to the shelter. I had a plan. We herded the two strays toward the front door of the central office. While my two new friends kittensat by the front door outside, I confiscated an old paper box and filled it with shredded paper from the document shredder in the copy room. (There is still a mess of shreddings on the floor.) When I came out the front door and presented my makeshift kennel, one of the cats got inside the lobby of the district office. After repeated “Here Kitty”s, the three of us managed to get the cats in the box with the stuffing. One of the cats did not like it’s new shelter and continued to jump out of the box. I blame the ladies’ holding techniques for the repeated escapes – see picture:



After chasing down the second cat, we quickly stuffed the box of cats in the back of my Prius. I drew the grocery shade over the box and shut the trunk. As I got into my car, the ladies thanked me for all the help. I made a point to let them know I was a principal at the elementary school down the street – never a bad moment for positive PR! The cats didn’t make a peep as I drove to the humane society for drop off. When I arrived, the man I previously spoke with had me fill out a form for delivering the cats – I took a picture of this for documentation, in case my superintendent wonders why I was late for the board meeting šŸ˜‰


Driving around the building to “Cat Intake”, I popped open the back. Forgetting that one of the cats was an escape artist, I failed to catch it as it bolted out of the car and into the parking lot. I took the tamer of the two to the holding center, then persuaded the runaway to come inside where it was warm:


What is the point of this post? I am not sure, but I should add “Cat Whisperer” to my Twitter profile. I guess this event was helpful to put things in perspective, that no matter what happened in the board workshop, it probably wasn’t as important as helping two cats on a Wisconsin winter night.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

3 thoughts on “Howe Principal: Pet Rescuer”

    1. I can sleep well tonight knowing the cats are safe. There’s a chance the cats belong to one of my student’s families. I hope they get back to their home.


  1. When I lived in the country I had a herd of feral cats coming to my back porch because I kept putting out food. I realized I would end up with 200+ cats if I didn’t do something, but I couldn’t stand thinking about them being hungry. I got some humane traps, caught them and took them to the local college vet school to be “fixed”. The multiplication of kitties was solved!

    I’m such a sucker for animals!


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