9 p.m. Friday night, a poorly placed trash can had me attempting to push a trash bag full of cat litter over a large wooden knob at the bottom of the handrail leading from our carport to the side entrance of the house. The knob, which being knob-shaped wasn’t particularly sharp, still managed to penetrate the thin plastic bag and it was a cat litter fiesta all over the carport including under and around my wife’s week-old car. Being a man of action, I let it sit until the following morning.
Next morning I attempt to remove the remaining litter but my water hose has the push power of a napping baby. We head out to take care of various errands, return and the wife parks the car in the driveway so I can remove what is now a large wet mass of cat detritus.
I get out the pressure washer. This is a Christmas present from the in-laws that I’ve used three times. It requires power and the one outside outlet is two-pronged so I have to force the screen door mostly shut as I find an outlet inside. I clean up the mess and of course that pressure washer makes slow but thorough work of some caked-in crud in the driveway so I work on that for about fifteen minutes. I unplug, come inside, and as it is the weekend decide to vacuum.
As I’m downstairs, searching for a podcast for appropriate (Space Rocket History), I hear my wife calling for Skitty. He’s our black and white mustached marvel who doesn’t meow so much as chirp. When he snuggles, he envelopes you in purrs.
We search the house. Normally when we have a missing cat, one comes stumbling out of a hidden nap sanctuary after a minute or two. This time we get nothing. Soy, the mostly black brother follows Alison like it’s his job and we are striking out. This is when I think that maybe he snuck out the door.
We wander the neighborhood, unsure of what a cat who’s never been outside save in a cat carrier heading to the vet would do with ultimate freedom. One time when my dad visited, he left the porch door open and our cat Chewie got out. A couple of hours later I sat on the back porch and he snuck his way back in, curiosity sated for a lifetime.
Alison makes a missing poster and we drive around our block, putting them up. When I get the first one I mishandle the tape and it sticks to the front of the poster, ripping off most of the message written at the bottom including out phone numbers. In my life I’m not sure when I’ve felt more pathetic and hopeless.
In the FedEx store making more copies, I lose it. I’m sure the other couple there thought their Saturday afternoon would include a bawling middle-aged dude waiting for copies.
I had to be home at 5, which is Skitty’s food time. I opened a can of wet food inside, on the front porch and in the back. I had gone online in a few places and posted our ad, and got back advice like putting his litterbox outside so he could smell it. I wandered the backyard as the day receded.
We sat like automatons eating unhealthy but appropriate Chinese food, staring out our back window looking for a cat and seeing mostly fireflies.
It’s nine o clock and I’m where a man’s best thinking occurs, the can. I hear for probably the 100th time in the past ten hours what I think is a meow. I’ve checked the drawers next to the bed at least twice, but what the heck. I check the wife’s side, nothing, the far end, nothing, and end up at my clothes drawer. I see nothing for a second, reach in and there’s a squirming black and white cat who hasn’t seen the light in half a day. I pull him out and present him to my wife like he’s the Chosen One.
Yep, I freaked out and cried in public and the cat was in my clothes drawer the whole time. Skitty’s POV:
“I’ve never been in that drawer so when dad opened it, I jumped in. It was dark. I napped. I woke up. I napped again. I thought what the heck, why not meow for the first time ever and a minute later I was free. Fin.”
Two years ago we lost Chewie and thought “no cats for a while” except that five weeks later we had us a Scatman and a Soy. To lose one two years later would have been cruel. To lose one of them temporarily is about all I can handle.