Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Neighbor's Cat

Monday morning at 3 am, I am outside in the pitch black, wearing my pajamas, boots and a coat.  I am walking around my neighbor's house with a flash light trying to peek under crevices and call - quiet enough not to wake the neighbors, loud enough to be heard - "Mischief!  Here kitty, kitty."

I had been watching my neighbor's two cats for the better part of the week.  Marbles, a big fluffy calico, always stays in.  Mischief, an enormous white male cat with black spots (think small cow), is permitted to roam.  There was no real pattern to Mischief's ins and outs.  Sometimes he would go out.  Sometimes he would stay in.  Sometimes he would come out and visit when I stopped over to feed them.  Sometimes he would stay hidden.  But when he was out and I wanted to let him in for the evening, that could be tricky because he covers a wide territory and I had no way of knowing when he would be at his door.  I'd just have to keep checking and checking.  It was annoying, but I wasn't about to leave the cat out all night.

Then it snowed.  Mischief stayed in for three days.  So things got a little easier on me.

Saturday afternoon I was making chili.  I realized, mid-way through the process, that I didn't have any chili powder.  I ran next door to check my neighbor's spice cabinet - which, in case you're wondering, is totally fine with them.  No chili powder.  But big old Mischief came out for a little pet on the tummy.  Then I was off.  I was rushing because I had to run to the store, now, for chili powder.

All was well.  The chili was fine.  Sunday came and I fed the cats.  All was still well.

I watched the Oscars and went to bed.

You know how sometimes when your mind is at rest, things become really clear.  At 3 am, I realized that I hadn't seen Mischief all day on Sunday and that the food bowl was still pretty full.  There had been so many times that I had been in and out of that house and sometimes the cat came out and sometimes it didn't.  Then I thought - what if, on Saturday, the cat came out?  What if, the cat has been out since Saturday afternoon?

There was no way I was getting back to sleep without checking.  Just no way at all.  So I put on my boots and scanned the area.  No luck.

I went back to bed but, of course, I couldn't sleep for guilt and worry.  Mischief could be in the house.  He's probably fine.  It's not my fault.  I went over on Sunday.  The cat wasn't waiting for me.  It is my fault.  I haven't been calling his name.  I haven't been looking.  Over and over again.  It wasn't a great night.

At 7am I was up and had on my boots.  As I walk next door I prayed the cat would be sitting on the steps.  Nope.  I prayed the cat would be inside.  Nope.  I still didn't feel like I could call loudly outside, but I looked around.  Nothing.

At 7:30 I had my boots on.  Cat on porch?  Nope.  Cat inside?  Nope.  Etc.

I knew that at some point I would have to call my neighbors.  They were due to arrive home at 6pm and I didn't want to tell them that their cat is MIA at that point.  So, I decided if  the cat doesn't turn up by 11:30am - when Magoo and I return from art class, I would call then.

I checked for the cat every 30 minutes.  I called - it's late enough now.  I put out food.  I shook the food.  I took a cat toy with a jingle bell.  Nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing.

We went to art class.
We came home.

I drove by slowly wishing for a white cat to be sitting on the porch.  Nope.  No cat.

So I placed the call.  (Here's the thing - this cat has done this before.  Especially if it's cooped up inside for a few days.  There are a ton of logical reasons why the cat is out "catting around" and I really, technically have not done anything wrong.  All I did was let the cat out, which I'm allow - nay, supposed to do.  Still, I feel horrible.  I don't know where the cat is.)  But I told them all about it.  They were cool and made me feel a lot better.  They know how the cat is, and told me not to worry.

I continued to look for the cat for the rest of the day.  No cat.

They came home around 6pm and soon after went to get their dog.  (Tuna, the dog, was staying about a block and a half away.)  When the dog came home, guess who was right on its tail? Mischief the cat.    The theory is that while the cat was out, he saw his little doggy being walked by the dog babysitter and followed them home and there he stayed - not in the house - by in the area until it was time to go home.

So the cat's fine and I got a very good night's sleep last night and we all live happily ever after.


äiti said...

Your worry and stress (how compassionate are you?): not cute.

The cat happening upon the dog and then hanging out near it?: so cute.

Julie_c said...

That sounds like an American Express Ad:

Therapy bills due to guilt and stress: $500.00

Cat and dog love: priceless

äiti said...

True! LOL!!!