She went missing a couple of days after Christmas.
Only one time before had she been gone more than a day. That time, she disappeared for four days. I had been positive she was in the neighbor's garage. I had gone over there after two days, and I had sworn I heard her. Knocking on the door, the neighbor husband said there was definitely no cat. The neighbor wife later confirmed she definitely wasn't there.
During that lost period, I asked other folks -- those in the area of her stalking 'hood -- if they had seen her. I got to hear them say things such as, "Oh, you mean the one who sits under my bird feeders everyday?" And, "You mean that cat actually belongs to someone?" And, "What a crappy pet owner you are." [All right, no one really said that, but I kind of felt the condemnation. Probably because of my recovering-Catholic guilt and all.]
Ruby has been with us just over six years. We promised the Marin Humane Society that she would be an indoor cat. And that was definitely our intent. But she wanted out, feral being that she was, and she got her wish through subterfuge. She'd come up to one of us, let us stroke her, she'd purr, we'd stroke her some more, and then she'd bite us. Hard. Without warning.
After a month of that, Ruby became an indoor/outdoor cat, departing during the day and coming home in the evening. We all happily coexisted.
Until muttonhead arrived, that is. For more than two years now, Ruby has opted to spend her evenings stalking and sleeping on cushions in the pool house. [Don't we sound rich, what with a pool house and all?]
Whenever the two pets encounter each other, they behave just like when any of my kids encounter each other, hissing and barking and acting all tough but keeping to their separate arenas.
Back to just after Christmas, when Ruby was a no-show, day in and day out. Sadly, the neighbors whose garage she ultimately was found in last time have been out of town. I have gone over to their house repeatedly, calling to Ruby, listening for any noise that would propel me to break into their house. Nothing.
I have tried hard to banish images of her slowly succumbing to starvation and dehydration while locked in their garage. But I have failed.
I have tried not to imagine a rogue mountain lion dragging her away. But I have failed that, too.
I have tried to imagine her being welcomed into someone else's home and having found a new life with someone without a pesky dog. That, too, I have failed to do.
When Pete yelled up the stairs last night, "I just fed the cat," we all came running down. [I came hobbling down because, hey, it's flare-up time, kids. But that's another post.]
She looks the same as always. In fact, if anything, she looks a bit plumper. I stroked her to welcome her back. Stupid cat bit me. All is right with the world again.
[Don't forget that tomorrow is Day to Read. I'll be offline, then, reading a book or two. And, for once, the books won't be children's literature. Whoo-hoo. Thanks for the great idea, Soccer Mom in Denial.]