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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Judge suspends trial to search for meowing cat

Spokane County Judge Bruce Blake was holding a civil trial when the sounds of “meow, meow meow,” echoed through the room. That began a mystery that forced a delay of the trial, The Spokesman-Review reported on Feb. 24, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Spokane County Judge Bruce Blake was holding a civil trial when the sounds of “meow, meow meow,” echoed through the room. That began a mystery that forced a delay of the trial, The Spokesman-Review reported on Feb. 24, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Mysterious Case of the Caterwauling Courtroom Cat played out in the Spokane County Courthouse.

Judge Bruce Blake was holding a civil trial when the sounds of “meow, meow meow,” echoed through the room.

The bailiff and clerk first thought the sound was coming from under the floor, so they dispatched the custodian to the basement.

No cat there.

Then the courthouse carpenter was called in to see if he could find it in the floorboards.

No cat there.

Then as the trial proceeded in the afternoon, the meows turned into frantic wails.

“Gentlemen, we have a matter here which must be given immediate attention,” said the judge. “We will suspend.”

The cat still could not be found. Judge Blake resumed the trial, but the cat “began howling with greater violence.”

Finally, Judge Blake looked right under his own bench. There he found a famished cat, which had apparently been closed in a drawer for several days.

The janitors recalled chasing a cat several days before. The cat had apparently jumped into an open drawer to hide and the drawer was later closed by someone who did not realize it contained a cat.

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