Goddamn cats. No, really. This week has had the majority of it dedicated to finding one grey beast on the lamb.
It all started on Sunday. Last weekend I decided to create a surprise for my housemate. I bought some new plants and pots at the local home improvement store. The housemate was going away for the weekend, and we had had a conversation the prior week about her wanting to fix up the yard as a project. So while I was shopping with a friend, I was inspired.
After spending far too long on Saturday painting the pots, Sunday I was a bit rushed in putting everything out before she’d come home. I guess I wasn’t paying as much attention to the door as I could have been. You see, our screen door on the side of the house doesn’t shut firmly. I guess a few good kitty headbutts and it’s freedom time.
In his 12 years on this Earth, Renfield, being of the curious and outgoing nature that he is (also known as being the occasional “asshole”), has left his indoor domicile approximately a half dozen times. When he was only a few years old, he made his way out once late at night when a housemate who worked a late shift let him out, and his absence went unnoticed until he came tapping on the window in the morning. When I lived in another house on the East End of the city, he once hid in a drain pipe until we could extract him like a feline Baby Jessica. At least twice he roamed the apartment building I lived in, but luckily not making it into the outside world. When I decided to make the most recent move, I had micro chip IDs implanted in both my cats, just in case.
This was the longest the little monster has been loose on his adventure. I didn’t recognize he was officially “missing” until Monday morning, but I instantly went into crisis mode. First I made a missing post on Facebook that everyone was kind enough to share. Luckily for me, I also know a great deal of avid animal people, who offered tips and help. Over the course of the 4 days he was missing, I posted on Nextdoor, Craigslist, Telephonepole, and placed ads in both local newspapers and the Pennysaver. Monday I roamed the neighborhood, even in the rain, until dark with a bag of treats, calling his name like a crazy person, checking every dumpster and bush for probably at least a mile radius.. to no avail.
I started by putting food out with tempting treats, only to find the food disappearing with no cat. I started by setting up his favorite hang out cube with a little umbrella, but this progressed as I people gave me tips. There was a box, and well worn shirts to give off my “smell”, a litter box, and a trail of dirty litter to try to help him find his way home. Tuesday I had lost fliers made, got baby monitors for the food areas, talked to some neighbors while I put up lost posters, and friends brought me a couple cage traps.
There were hopeful sightings. During my travels Tuesday, some local children said they spotted him the night before on one of the back roads, coming from the hill by the train tracks. Wednesday morning the woman across the street that feeds strays spotted him devouring the food she sets out for the local strays. She was unable to grab him because he hid under her porch.
Wednesday I took the experts advice, and waited around the house, a bit of listless mess. I was, as always impatient, and beginning to think I would never see my cat again. There was a Renfield shaped hole in my heart, as I thought I kept hearing his little meeps and harumphs around the house. I told myself that if he returned, I would no longer complain about his neediness. I would allow him as much lap access as his furry little heart desired, regardless of my own priorities. As if he his leaving was some how a spite to me personally, like a petulant child. Despite how spoiled he is, all I could think of was what what I had done wrong. I even got to the point of lighting candles and saying the memorized prayers from my Catholic upbringing. I am not above putting some leans on the metaphysical, when all else had failed me.
That evening Jocelyn had a late rehearsal. I was about to make myself some ramen (as I wasn’t really big on the eating thing the last couple of days), when I heard he call from outside that he was spotted slinking up the street towards the house. I don’t think I ever moved that fast, bolting out the door with no shoes on. He ran into the neighbor’s yard and we gave chase with only the flashlight of Jocelyn’s phone to light the way. He had a straight shot down the steps behind the house into the alley, but luckily, he is not too well versed in the art of alluding the chase. His thinking was that hiding behind bushes would deter us. He thought incorrectly, of course. I was already trampling dried pine needles in stocking feet, with no thought for my own welfare. I was unconcerned with my comfort. We took alternating sides and cornered him behind a bush, and when he made his move Jocelyn scruffed him firmly and we brought him inside. He meowed like a chastised child, with his “adventure” unfinished, by his standards.
There was a little sniffing and growling from his feline life partner, Pork. And China seemed miffed that she had finally gone from 3 cats to 2, and then back up to 3 again. Luckily, he did not have a single nick, cut, scratch, or scrape upon his person. In fact, he did not appear to have lost an ounce of weight over the four days of “foraging in the wild”, presumably because he had devoured all the stray cat feeding stations within 2 blocks.
Now he has a brand new glittery breakaway collar with and ID tag. I had for years given up on making him wear a collar because like a deficient Harry Houdini, no matter how I adjusted it, he always seemed able to get the collar just over his jaw. This would cause panic like a wild man when I tried to alleviate his predicament.This being pretty much the only time he’s caused actual bloodshed in his lifetime. I have also purchased flea drops and worm medication, because despite his intact status, I don’t know exactly where the little fucker has been. (China has already turned her nose up at the wet food with the worming medication, suspicious of kitty poisoning.)
And what have we learned? We’ve learned that we have a good network to rely on in times of distress. We’ve learned to take some extra precautions for safety when you have a sneaky asshole for a cat. We’ve learned that no matter how comfortable your tits are, and no matter how much stinky food you offer, that the call of the wild is always persuasive. Welcome home, you little brat…