84: Missing Inaction

84: Missing Inaction

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

Missing Inaction

It is impossible to find a place in which a cat can’t hide.

~Bill Carraro

Frantic, my boyfriend Jeff called me at work one afternoon to say he was home early and could not find our cat. I asked him whether he had checked all the usual places — under the bed, under the sink, or under any clothes piles. He had, and Mr. Big was nowhere to be found.

I left work and raced home to join the search. Mr. Big was an indoor cat so our manhunt was confined to a 900-square-foot apartment. We checked and double-checked the clothes hamper, the cabinets, the closets, in and under the bed, and his favorite spot, the windowsills.

I gave the dry cat food bag a noisy shake and loudly opened a can of wet food, hoping the sounds and smells of dinner would lure him out of hiding. No luck.

After combing every square inch of the apartment, we turned our focus to the indoor corridors of our three-story building. Mr. Big enjoyed taunting the dogs in the building with drawn claws and a hiss. To get out, he often grabbed the bottom of the door and if it wasn’t shut tightly, he could pull it open. On more than one occasion he actually stood on his back legs and tried to turn the doorknob.

Unfortunately, Mr. Big was not on any of the floors in the building so we had to face the possibility that he could be outside. We could not figure out how he would have gotten outside, but it was the only logical conclusion.

I hoped he had not traveled outside the general vicinity of our apartment. There was a very busy street two blocks away and the back of our building abutted a wooded area.

Jeff and I rounded up as many neighborhood kids as we could find. We gave each of them a handful of cat food and the promise of a cash reward to the one who found our cat. The kids scattered out, all calling, “Here kitty kitty.”

We looked under cars, up trees, behind bushes, and called him until our throats were sore. We could not bear the thought of him being lost in the woods or the victim of a fox.

Later, as darkness approached, our search party dwindled as the kids were called one by one into their homes for the evening.

Jeff reluctantly suggested we go back inside. I followed him back to our apartment, lagging a few steps behind and unwilling to accept a new life without Mr. Big. Baffled, I kept thinking aloud, “How did he get out of a locked apartment?”

Mr. Big was twenty-three pounds when we brought him home from the animal shelter. With a thick coat of long, black and white fur, and big green eyes, he was the most handsome Maine Coon you would ever meet.

Nearly everyone who met Mr. Big for the first time said one of two things: “That’s the biggest cat I’ve ever seen” or “That’s the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen.” I’d seen enough detective shows on television to form somewhat of an educated guess as to how Mr. Big got out. My theory? Someone stole him!

I shared my theory with Jeff. I believed Mr. Big was relaxing in a window when he was spotted and admired by someone below. Somehow, maybe with a ladder and a screwdriver, they loosened the screen and took him. They properly replaced the screen from the outside leaving no trace of a crime. That is the only logical explanation for an indoor cat to be missing from a locked apartment.

Jeff listened but did not enthusiastically agree with my hypothesis. No matter what happened while we were at work, we both agreed that we could not give up.

We decided to create missing cat posters using Mr. Big’s most recent photograph and offer a $1,000 reward. We printed copies at the local Kinko’s, and in complete darkness, we attached them to poles and trees near our apartment. There was nothing left to do but wait for our phones to ring.

What a terrible night it had been for us. I couldn’t imagine going to bed without knowing whether Mr. Big was safe. Jeff was collapsed on the couch, silent and distraught.

I decided to make phone calls to let family and friends know what had happened. While I was on the phone with my sister, I heard Jeff yell from the other room. I dropped the phone and ran into the living room.

Jeff said he felt something from inside the couch. We removed all the couch cushions to find our cat sitting inside the wooden frame. He had torn a hole in the lining and crawled inside! He sat there staring up at us looking precious and innocent.

This vocal cat, who was not afraid to meow when it was mealtime, or when the tub faucet was not dripping, or when he wanted what we had on our plates, never made a peep throughout the entire evening. He was probably silently laughing at us the whole night from his secret hiding place.

Mr. Big gave us twelve years of enjoyment after the infamous couch night. He’s in heaven now, but I’ll never forget the night he brought us frustration, fatigue, and tears of joy.

~Donna M. Reed

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