|The cat's in the bag.|
"There's no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast."
That's one of my favorite refrigerator magnets, and since I feed our two cats in the morning, I knew something was wrong yesterday when only Peanut turned up at my feet.
April was missing.
My first thought was that she was stuck in a closet somewhere. I walked through the house, checking all of her usual hiding places.
Beginning to worry, I opened every door, every cupboard, even the washer and dryer.
My heart sank.
Our "girls" are indoor cats. We live too close to a busy road to let them be anything but. Lately, though, April has had a hankering for the great outdoors. Whenever we come in the back door, she's right there waiting. She slipped out a couple times recently, but we always managed to wrangle her back in within seconds.
Somehow she had slipped out unnoticed.
I checked the yard and the garage, calling out her name.
I called my husband at work, and explained what I feared. I made a quick "Lost Cat" flyer with her photo and made copies at O'Neill's, the local grocery, tacking one up on their bulletin board. I taped a few on nearby telephone poles, and left more with a friend who promised to post them around her block.
Leaving a bowl of cat food on the back steps, I left for work around 10 with a heavy heart. Since I had to work until 6, I worried that April would come home, but no one would be there to let her back in.
Enter my wonderful husband. At lunch time I got a text message: He came home from work to scour the neighborhood.
His first report: no luck, no April, no cat of any description.
Meanwhile the skies turned gray and the temperature dropped. I know cats have fur to keep them warm, but I pictured her cold, wet and miserable. Then again, I thought, maybe that would be a good thing, give her an incentive to come home.
At 2:45 I got the call that made my day: April was back!
Taking a break from the hunt, my husband had been working on a bike in our driveway. He looked up and saw April poking her head out from beneath our back steps. (And no, she hadn't been there earlier. I checked.)
Very slowly, my husband moved toward her. "Hi, April," he said, oh so casually. Then he scooped her up and "threw her back in the house." (I'm sure it was a gentle toss.)
Her great outdoors adventure was over.
For readers with outdoor cats, this may seem much ado about nothing. Cats come back, I know that. I've heard of at least two cats who found their way home, one after months of absence. Unfortunately I also know of pets who never found their way home. Besides, this was our cat. She was not used to the outdoors, or traffic, and for seven hours I had no idea how this story would end. I felt terrible.
When I got that wonderful phone call, I whooped with joy and relief (even though I work at a library). I called my friend to tell her she didn't have to post those flyers, and I called O'Neill's, to say they could take the flyer down. The man who answered sounded as happy as I was when I told him the good news.
Last night while we were watching TV, April took turns burrowing into both of our laps, purring away. When I woke up this morning, she was in her usual spot: Sitting on my bladder, staring down at me, waiting for me to get up and feed her. It's true: There is no snooze button on a hungry cat.
As I type this, April is curled up on the footstool, resting her head on my ankle. Is she remembering her big adventure? Will she dream of slinking through back yards and climbing trees? Was it fun, scary, a bit of both?
We'll never know. She is a cat, after all, and she's not talking.