You didn’t even know she was missing, did you?
Well she was.
I didn’t write about it here because I kept hoping she would just show up. I was holding my breath, essentially. And then, I started to feel ashamed that I had lost her. That it was my fault for letting her out. Guilt is a horrible feeling. I didn’t want to share it at first. I tried to see it as part of a bigger picture, to calm my mind and prepare me to move on.
I usually write about Moonpie, The WCE (Worst Cat Ever), who had been driving me to despair with his kittenish efforts to make me and the BLP (Beloved Life Partner) lose our minds. But I do have an older post or two about our first cat, Smudgie the Fuzzy Slipper, who is as well-behaved and demure as her brother is wild and mischievous.
The WCE responded very well to some behavioral strategies suggested by that Cat Whisperer Extraordinaire, Alsoknownas, and other knowledgeable and encouraging folks at Our Salon, including allowing the little monster to go outside to work out his youthful energies upon the environment instead of wrecking the house.
We decided to let the Fuzzy Slipper out, too. We were careful about introducing them both to the outside. We walked them all around the house and property in our arms, showing them the doors and the landmarks. Several times. We supervised their first forays and familarized them with the sound of a certain whistle meant to bring them back home, as well as the tones of the Sweat Lodge Gongs that send their vibrations further into our 1-acre wooded lot and perhaps beyond.
Here is Moonpie atop the 7-foot tall gong stand:
The WCE…well I probably shouldn’t call him that anymore, ‘cause now that he gets to go out he has become and absolute joy. He is out most of the day, playing with some cat buddies who come to visit and chasing bugs. He comes when called, and in between, too, checking in, smelling of grass and leaves and purring like a motorboat.
The Fuzzy Slipper had been less enthusiastic, going out for a few minutes at a time, sticking very close to the house, and mostly refusing the offer of the open door.
Then, on Friday March 22, she took that offer at 5 pm and bolted for the stand of trees and undergrowth between our house and the one next door. After 20 minutes or so I went to see if she was ready to come in.
No sign of the Slipper.
At 6 pm….still no Slipper. WCE came in at my whistle
7 pm……8 pm….through until about midnight., The BLP and I both went out calling, whistling, ringing the damn gongs, and then had an awful sleepless night. We took turns all night calling for her.
The next day, Saturday, it was the same. The WCE came and went, and Fuzzy Slipper was just…gone.
As another day passed, we started to realize that she would never come home. We spoke to all the neighbors, did the things you do when your pet goes missing.
We hoped that someone had taken her in and she had simply decided she liked it better there, away from her annoying and rambunctious brother.
Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. The week wore on. I focused on seeing her in my mind’s eye, basking in the attentions of another household. It made me feel a little better, though I was heartbroken at the thought of never seeing her again.
Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. The house, quieter by one cat, began to take on a slightly different rhythm as is wont to happen. A full week had passed and I began to accept the idea that had started as hope that she would return and then hope that she was okay.
Saturday, March 30, 6 pm.
Sitting at my computer by the back door, the BLP upstairs reading.
I hear a thump on the deck and see movement out of the corner of my eye.
I assume it’s the WCE, ready to come in for a few minutes of petting and a snack.
I turn my head and see not the sleek black form and magnificent plume of a tail that is the WCE’s hallmark, but the bright gray fluffy shape of Smudgie, the Fuzzy Slipper.
I couldn’t open that door fast enough.
I scooped her up in my arms- she weighed nothing! Every rib and vertebrae sharp against my hand.
She purred and meowed and told me all about it while I carried her upstairs to see the BLP.
8 days and One Hour!
She is HOME. Hungry. Thirsty. Exhausted. Covered in tree resin.
But alive and basically healthy. Even Moonpie is being nice to her, respectfully giving her space.
I don’t know what happened. But I do know these two things:
(1) I am the luckiest cat-mama on the face of the earth right now
(2) The Fuzzy Slipper is once again an inside-only cat.
Here's my girl, this picture taken just an hour ago:
Happy Easter, everybody.
Aaaannnnnnd....ta da! Celebretory sockwear for today: