We study the Cauchy problem for the one-dimensional wave equation with an inverse square potential. We derive dispersive estimates, energy estimates, and estimates involving the scaling vector field, where the latter are obtained by employing a vector field method on the "distorted" Fourier side. In addition, we prove local energy decay estimates. Our results have immediate applications in the context of geometric evolution problems. The theory developed in this paper is fundamental for the proof of the co-dimension 1 stability of the catenoid under the vanishing mean curvature flow in Minkowski space.