It’s been a tough season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
They’ve been underperforming in the hotly contested National League Central Division, and in recent weeks, fans have grumbled about replacing the team’s management, trading veteran players, and trying for a better season next year.
Well, that’s all changing, thanks to a rogue kitten. The animal—incorrectly identified as a raccoon by the Cardinals’ radio team—ran onto the field during a tense bases-loaded, two-out situation in the bottom of the sixth inning. Umpires granted a time out while a Busch Stadium staff member ran out to retrieve the cat.
It, uh, didn’t go that well.
When playing resumed, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina cleared the bases with a grand slam, elevating the Cardinals over their rival Kansas City Royals. That started an eight-game winning streak, which concluded on Sunday, Aug. 13.
Cardinals fans quickly pronounced the cat “Rally Cat.”
Nevermind that cats eat birds (in pretty astronomical numbers, as it turns out).
The “Rally Cat” moniker was something of an homage to the Rally Squirrel, a similarly serendipitous animal that interrupted play during the 2011 National League Division Series, which the Cardinals eventually won (along with the World Series).
Unfortunately, the Rally Cat quickly went missing.
Local cat lover Korie Harris asked
“I thought, ‘I’m taking this cat home. It’s just scared,’” she told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After brief questioning, Busch Stadium ushers allowed Harris to remove the animal from the stadium.
Harris stopped to take photos with a few Cardinals fans, but on her way home, the Rally Cat escaped.
“I waited for hours but he never came out,” she said.
The Cardinals organization quickly released a statement about the bizarre series of events.
“We are hopeful someone will find the cat and contact us so we can properly care for it,” the statement reads. “Our grounds crew is working on developing a stray animal protocol to ensure the safety of both crew and animal should this happen again.”
“In the meantime, the Cardinals are looking to scratch and claw their way back to the top of the division standings.”
If you’re holding out for good news, we’ve got some: The Cardinals say that they’ve located the cat near the Citygarden neighborhood of St. Louis, which is where Harris says she lost the animal.
While there’s no word on who’ll get the little critter, he’s certainly rejuvenated the Cardinals fan base. Television ratings spiked after the Rally Cat incident, according to The Riverfront Times, so there’s probably a good chance that the Cardinals will want to hang on to the adorable kitten for a while longer.
That is, ahem, if they don’t find out what cats do to cardinals.