82: I Came Home for This?

82: I Came Home for This?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

I Came Home for This?

The cat has nine lives: three for playing, three for straying, three for staying.

~English Proverb

We had done it a million times before — leaving the front door open for just a second. But she usually didn’t care. We would run in to grab “one more thing,” and then scoot out the door, firmly locking it behind us. And she really didn’t care. Sure, she might come and investigate, but she had food, water, a comfy blankie — she had it made on the “inside.” What was so much better for her outside?

But then, one day, the unthinkable happened.

She got out.

Sam, our indoor-only, seven-year-old, collarless kitty, was gone — like GONE GONE. That kind of gone. She must have seen something really good out there, like another cat, a raccoon or a deer, and when the timing was right, and the door was open — if only for a second — she bolted.

Sam had only ever been outside once before, and at that time she barely got past our front yard, so fearful was she of the great outdoors. But this time, fear meant nothing to her. There was no finding her. We searched high and low — under neighbours’ decks, in bushes, in garages — everywhere. Not a fuzzy kitty in sight.

With heavy hearts, my three men slouched around the house. Every sound outside had them running to the windows, scanning the grounds. Every time we drove through the parking area of our townhomes, we scanned the bushes for a fuzzy little kitty.

I know everyone was thinking the worst, not daring to speak dreadful thoughts. I tried to keep their hopes up, but it was hard.

Sam came to us from a local pet store, Pets West, who in turn got her through the local animal control/rescue. As she was a rescue cat, one of my sons wondered — did she have a chip or tattoo that we didn’t know about?

So as requested, and only on faint-hope whim, I hustled to the pet store. Maybe they did, by chance, have a record of her being chipped or tattooed. It wouldn’t find her, but if someone took her to the animal shelter, it might be easy to identify her. I secretly hoped they had implanted a microscopic GPS somewhere on our feline friend.

The store’s sales clerk, Meghan, looked up our kitty’s file. She said they didn’t have a record of any chips or tattoos, but advised me to call animal control to see what they knew. I later did check, but with no luck.

But… Meghan gave us something more.

A bit of hope.

After handing me Sam’s file number and the phone number for animal control, she gave me a few pointers. Meghan suggested I send her a photo and details of our lost kitty, and not only would she set up a “lost kitty” notification on Facebook — lots of “shares” of lost pets had helped in the past — but she said she would also post an ad on the store’s website. And she would post a “lost kitty” poster in their store.

Wow!

I raced home and shared the news with my heartbroken men. I recapped the “Find Lost Kitty” plan, but sprinkled it with “no promises.” But it gave them hope. The thought that someone was doing something lifted their spirits. They were most surprised that someone would go out of their way to do all that.

So with details sent to the store, and “lost kitty” posters posted around our neighborhood, all we could do was wait. And hope. And keep our paws crossed.

Two days later, I had two e-mails. One was from Meghan confirming her Facebook/website work, and the other from a concerned animal lover — a total stranger — who saw the advertisements. Not only did she express her concern for our family, but she also gave us a few tips to enhance our “Find Lost Kitty” plan. Pets West’s Facebook page was full of “shares” and comments from other concerned folks — folks we didn’t know. Two other folks took the time to phone with sympathy and words of encouragement — “Don’t worry, she’ll come back soon.”

When I shared these e-mails and phone calls with my family they, too, were overwhelmed. It amazed us that so much was being done for us, and by people we didn’t know. It was a lesson in community, in folks looking out for other folks. It gave us all a bit of hope, that maybe someone would see our furry Sam. We weren’t paying anyone to do this; we didn’t know any of these people. Everyone’s kindness and concern overwhelmed us.

Days went by. On the recommendation of many, I left her favorite blankie outside, in the hope that her smell/homing beacon would kick in. Nothing.

And then, a week and seventeen hours later, there she was. When one of my sons and husband came back from an outing, there she was, sitting in our parking stall, as if waiting for them to come home. With barely any coaxing, Sam willingly came to my husband, and silently, and without excitement for fear of scaring her, we carried her into the house. And locked the door — double-checking it five times.

To this day, Sam is happy and healthy and is wearing her first collar ever, complete with engraved tag and a bell — just in case.

By the way she sulked around those first few days home, the unfamiliar “noose” around her neck tinkling and jingling with every step, I suspected she was thinking, “I came home for THIS?”

~Lisa McManus Lange

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