July 6th, 2008

if I were me

In which we have raccoons, but also a cat. Not to spoil the ending or anything.

To recap:

Woke up Wednesday morning to find a screen out of a window and a(n indoor) cat missing.

We were supposed to leave on vacation on Thursday night. Granted, it was just vacation to the cottage, not a thing with tickets and reservations and hullaballoo, but still, vacation, plus out-of-state relatives, that sort of thing.

After combing and recombing the neighborhood and emailing and posting on craigslist and calling and weeping and gnashing teeth, we left Friday, saw the fireworks, and I drove back today to visit the Humane Society and to wander around and to get up at 3AM and do "cat vigil."

Before bed tonight:

I left the garage door open about a foot, and left the door to the laundry room open, since this is the only room in the house you can both sequester and leave open to the outside. That was one of the several tricks for luring home lost cats that you all told me.

I left food out front and out back.

I set my alarm for 3AM.

And I fell asleep for about half an hour before MERLIN came PESTERING ME. Like, seriously, TIMMY IS IN THE WELL, MOM. I thought, "Really? Can he have seen Arthur?" So I went downstairs and there was no food in the front dish. I put more in, rattled it good--and proceeded to summon the neighbor's cat, who was like, "Hey, what? You mean the buffet comes with conditions?" Neighbor's cat stalked off. I despaired. What if all the missing food was just her dining out?

And I think I maybe mumbled some curses at Merlin and went back to bed.

Who, within ten minutes, was tap-dancing on my head and chirping. It was a lot like his usual demands for affection, but he wouldn't settle down and get petted. So I got up again. Nothing in the front, nothing in the back. I said, rather pointedly, to Merlin, "LOOK. I set my alarm for 3AM. I will go find your brother THEN. Okay?"

I got another half hour of sleep at that point, before Merlin was back. TIMMY, MOM. IN THE WELL.

I went downstairs, checked the laundry room again, and this time, I decided to lie down on the couch. And by god, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, Merlin calmed right down and started this very dutiful patrol: stand at the back door and peer out. Trot off to the front door. Come sniff the laundry room door. Perch on the couch arm above my head for a minute. Back to the back door.

Now, earlier today, on one of my patrols, Merlin sneaked out the door as I was coming in and ran all over the yard before I finally caught him and brought him back inside with stern warnings that I was not losing two cats in one week. At the time, I didn't know if he'd just gotten his taste for the outdoors back with our foolishness on the leash the other day, or if he thought he was going to find his littermate, but now I think it was the latter.

I dozed, while Merlin patrolled. The other two cats were kind of just doing their usual thing--they'd look out the back door sometimes, but mostly just to watch moths and I think a vole (something small and fast). Maybe I'm not giving them enough credit now, but there was no pattern like with Merlin. I woke up when Merlin's tail drifted down on my forehead during his intermittent perching, and when the other cats got excited about the vole.

And when I heard the thumps in the laundry room.

I swear to god, Merlin and I looked at each other. I feel like I'm anthropomorphizing this cat, or at least imbuing it with dog-like qualities, but we did look at each other, and then he crouched to stare at the laundry room door, ready to squirt through. I shooed him back, muttered, "Please don't be a raccoon, please don't be a raccoon," and opened the door a smidge.

Guess what?


I slammed the door shut, waited ten seconds, looked again. Raccoon was on his way out. I slammed the door to the garage shut after him, but decided I'd wait 'til morning to lower the big garage door, because lord knows I don't want to shut the raccoon in.

Back to the couch.

I was dozing again, when Merlin chirped. And there was a rattle of the food outside the back door. I opened my eyes to see--unmistakably--Arthur! I jumped up and ran outside, slammed the screen door shut after me (because Merlin was ready to pounce on his brother), and scared him straight into the bushes.


I sat down, and started calling softly to Arthur and rattling the food, and eventually, he came back. Circled around, in fact--I was looking left and he came in front the right. He chirped a little, and ran past me. Chirped again, came closer. Let me pet him, skimmingly, three or four times. Wouldn't eat the food off my fingers, which I thought was odd. He doesn't look any skinnier, but we have been leaving food out. Finally, he came close enough, and I grabbed him and tossed him inside.

Kali growled and hissed and took a swipe at him.

Merlin ran around like he was doing a victory lap.

I cracked open a can of wet food, petted the heck out of him, and came up here to email my husband. And write this, of course.

I bet now Merlin will let me sleep.
if I were me

Final Cat Update

Lost Cat is now Found Cat.

Found Cat spent the whole night lying beside me, alternately chirping demandingly when I stopped petting him, or popping up and scratching his head.

Found Cat has fleas. (Or maybe ear mites. I'm hoping fleas. Fleas can be gotten rid of without a trip to the vet.)

I finally gave up on the elusive thought of good sleep about ten minutes ago. Arthur sat up, scratched his head, cursed me for the grody stuff I put between his shoulderblades, cursed me even louder for stopping with the petting!, then gave up on me and found a sunbeam.

Merlin? Utterly peaceful all night. Though really angry when I put the anti-flea stuff on him.

"You'll be glad when your head starts to itch," I told him.

He just blinked sulkily and went back to staring out the window.

He's still my hero.