It all began one morning when I went downstairs to feed the cats. It is our morning ritual—They wait at the top of the stairs for me to wake up, and then as soon as I make even the slightest movement toward the stairs, they fly down in leaps and bounds to be the first in the kitchen. And even though I didn’t see Trey among them that morning, I figured he might be sleeping somewhere and would certainly get aroused as soon as he heard the familiar sounds of food preparation.
But when Trey didn’t come running after all the other cats began gorging, I began to search his familiar hiding spots to see if he was just lazy, or perhaps even sick. After a very thorough half hour of searching, I began to panic. Where the heck could he be? Even his hiding places were empty.
And then it hit me. I had gone out late the night before to empty the trash, and perhaps he slipped out the door without me seeing him. As he is an all-black cat (except for a small patch of white on his neck), he can easily blend in with the dark areas of our backyard. And because he’s so fast, you don’t even notice him flying out underneath you until later when you happened to be glancing out the window and suddenly notice a familiar black cat happily prancing about outside.
In the past when this has happened, Trey usually stays in the backyard until I open the door to let him back in. The backyard is fenced in, and there are plenty of plants, trees, birds, bugs and catnip to amuse him while he’s out there, but I never let him out (intentionally) unless I’m back there to watch him. So on the few occasions when he has slipped out without me noticing, it’s always been somewhat of a shock, since I usually credit myself with having a keen sense of my surroundings. (Though perhaps since moving to the suburbs, my NYC skill set has become somewhat lax.)
So after searching through the many bushes and plants in the backyard, as well as the garage, I nervously began expanding my search through the front yard (which is not fenced in) and the neighbors yards. I brought along a bag of his favorite food and began shaking it, and after that didn’t work, I plugged the electric can opener into the outlet in the backyard, and began cranking it’s familiar “whirring” sound through a megaphone, in hopes this would bring Trey running. (The sound of the can opener always signals the opening of a tuna can. And no matter how asleep the cats are, or how far away, they always come running to the sound of the “whirring.”) Only this time, Trey did not come.
Nor did he show up that evening, or any of the following day. I called all the local shelters and the police station and the animal control center to let them know my cat was missing. And I also flooded the neighborhood with flyers offering a reward for the missing cat, and told all my neighbors to be on the lookout. But though I kept convincing myself that he would come back and all would be well, the fear of the unknown kept getting the better of me. What if he got hurt? What if he was picked up by someone? Or hit by a car and was laying on the road somewhere?
As my mind began to move to these darker thoughts, something inside kept telling me to stop putting those negative images out there. If I really wanted Trey to come back, I needed to believe that he would. That he was just off having an adventure somewhere and as soon as he got tired or hungry, he would find his way back to his happy little home.
That night, as I went to bed, my head was filled with thoughts of Trey. I tried mentally calling to him, hoping that there was some kind of telepathic connection I could forge with him, to help guide him home. I fell asleep, calling his name and turning on and off the can opener (in my mind, of course).
The next morning, I woke up at six am for some reason. The cats were all very happy to see my early rise, and scampered downstairs ahead of me to wait for their reward. But before laying out their food, I decided to glance out the back door just to see if any of the food I had put out the previous night had been eaten. The back door is constructed of a glass design that distorts anything you see through it, but that morning there was no mistaking the movement of a familiar black tail wagging on the other side.
As I tripped over myself to get the door open as fast as I could, my eyes started watering with the sheer joy of his return. I quickly unlocked the screen door and then opened it slowly as not to frighten him. And in he came, perky and peppy, as if he’d only been gone for five minutes.
But did I scold him or get mad? NO! I must have spent the next hour making sure he was all right, and petting him, and brushing him, and giving him so much attention, the other cats were probably considering their own temporary escape for a while. After all, if this is the kind of pampering you get when you return, it might be worth it to leave for a day or two. (That’s THEIR reasoning, by the way, not MINE.)
Anyway, Trey is back in the fold and everything is right with the world. (Well, not everything, but at least here in Plainfield.) So maybe if we all willed the world to be a better place, and went to sleep every night believing it to be so, then things might begin to look better. Considering the alternative, it’s a much healthier way to live.
But that’s just me. Have you ever had a similar experience?