Saturday, January 28, 2012

Almost Lost Mary (Our Cat)

Mary, one of our cats, snuck out the back door while we were gone for a couple hours. But we eventually found her meowing outside. She seems no worse for wear, although it was a few pretty upsetting moments for me.

Forrest and his dad were bottling homebrew today. After they cleaned up, we went to dinner in Santa Cruz.

When we came back home two and a half hours later, only Amy (one of our cats) came running to kibble-dinner-call. Her sister, Mary, was nowhere to be seen. If there's one thing our cats our consistent about, it's being on-time (or, more often, early) to meal times. That's when we realized that the back door to the deck was slightly ajar.

Mary is always peering through open doors and looking out the windows. She's dashed by me when I get home from work a couple times, and I've had to chase her down the deck and haul her back inside. So when we saw the back door had been left open for hours, and Mary hadn't joined Amy for dinner, we were certain she'd snuck outside.

Our cats have essentially never been outside. They certainly don't know how to win any fights or be "street smart." They don't have any experience wandering around and coming back home again. "Lost Pet" posters stay up for a long, long time and I've read plenty of news stories about how the odds of getting a happy phone call from animal control aren't so great. I've lost two cats who wandered outside, one never to be heard from again and another that got run over. So when I realized that Mary had probably been outside for over two hours, in the dark, I immediately assumed the worst and became very sad, thinking I wouldn't ever see her again.

But I grabbed a handful of kibble, went out the back door, and sprinkled it around the deck while calling her name, hoping the sounds of me and the kibble would bring her running. Forrest suggested I put the kibble in a bowl so the kibble-noise would be louder. I thought then that I heard some rustling in the ivy or the trees or something, over in the area beyond our backyard. I stood still at the deck railing and looked in the direction of the sound, but I didn't hear anything more.

I tried the same routine out the front door and the side door, but I heard nothing further. So I sat on the floor next to the cat-feeder (where Amy was still obliviously chowing down on dinner), opened up the front door again, and looked out at the front porch. I felt defeated, certain that no amount of wishful thinking that we would find Mary would make it any more likely. I was feeling really sad. Every now and then I'd jingle some more kibble and call for Mary. Maybe she'd wander back some time later that night, if I just stayed at the door and waited for her.

Then I heard Forrest tapping urgently on the deck window and waving his firesword (ie, ridiculously powerful flashlight). It's only the second time I've ever been pleased that he has this ridiculous flashlight. Because he'd found Mary. After I had left to look around the other sides of the house, Forrest had grabbed the flashlight and a bowl of kibble and kept jingling it while looking out the way I had first thought I'd heard rustling. And eventually, Mary showed up below the deck, meowing.

I grabbed my own flashlight and ran out the side door, into the chicken yard that was closer to Mary. I lifted the chicken wire fence and Mary scooted under it. Her tail was all poofy. I carried her inside, so surprised and relived that she hadn't gotten herself eaten or beaten up or truly lost.

You can believe me when I say that we'll be double-checking that back door shuts all the way from now on.