On the last day of July we had a very sad thing happen. Natasha never came home. Since the boys were home from school for the summer, the cats pretty much spent the entire day outside. They would come in and eat when I got home from work, and then go back outside again after for a couple more hours. By dark, they were home and ready to come inside. The last time I had seen Tasha was at 6:30am when I left for work. Selina showed up at the usual times, but no Tasha.
We called and called for her, even walked our neighborhood in our jammies in the dark looking and calling. Not a sign. I thought, “Ok, she’ll be here in the morning.” Only she wasn’t. I made some flyers to hang on light poles in the neighborhood in case someone had seen her. I thought, “When I get home from work she’ll be there.” She wasn’t. I don’t know how many times I texted Colten to ask if she was home yet. We hung the flyers and every night I would spend some time outside calling her, but she never showed up. There were many tears shed in worry and in just missing her adorable little face. Especially that orange mustache!
After a week of her being gone, I noticed some of the signs were either taken down or else faded from the sun and rain so I made little business size cards with her picture on the front and my number on the back. That night I went door to door all around the neighborhood letting people know we still didn’t have her home. The folks near us commented that they always saw her out and about, but that they hadn’t seen her recently. I still went out and called her every night.
The irony of all of this isn’t lost on me. To think, just a little over a year ago, I never would have dreamed of having cats, let alone being worried about their wellbeing and missing them when they were gone. I’ve already told you I’m not a cat person! I was kind of mad at her for disappearing after making me fall so in love with her. And I was mad at myself – since I’m the one who always let them out. Somehow it felt like my fault. If I had just kept her in, she’d still be here being cute and stuff. Of course, she would have been miserable locked up in house when she loved the great outdoors. Adrian even pointed out when I wouldn’t let Selina outside anymore that I was putting my feelings ahead of her needs. It was a hard decision to let her back outside.
I also called all of the local shelters and vets and the microchip people to let them know she was missing. The microchip folks suggestion was to place a litter box outside of the house so she could smell it. They said that sometimes they get disoriented, especially if something has scared them or harmed them. But they have a great sense of smell and will recognize that “home” smell from a long ways off. I wouldn’t say it smells like “home” but I was willing to try it.
On my way home from work that next Friday, I was scoping out the yards looking for her like I did every time I drove through there. I thought to myself, “Maybe you need to start accepting that she’s not coming home.” It was a hard thing to consider, but it had been 9 days since we had seen her with no leads, no microchip scans, not even a brief sighting somewhere. I was pretty pensive that evening as I was coming up the stairs to the kitchen to make Gwennie’s dinner. It seemed like everything I did I could feel the empty space where she would normally had been.
As I was heading to the counter to put her food in Gwen’s bowl, something moved on the patio out of the corner of my eye. As I turned to look, my breath left and my heart jumped. There anxiously meowing at the door was Miss Tasha. I couldn’t get that door open fast enough. I wanted to grab her and hold her, but I was afraid I’d scare her away again. Josh had heard my gasp and came running upstairs too. As she came in the door she headed straight for the food bowl. She was skinny skinny skinny!! Of course, we were almost out of dry cat food, so I grabbed a can of the moist I had been hanging on to for no apparent reason. She ate almost the entire 3oz can. (Pepper finished it off for her.) Selina hissed at her.
She had what appeared to be a healed wound on her head by her left ear. It was bald and crusty, but not scabbed. There was another smaller place in front of her ear on the same side. She also had several baldish spots on her legs and tail, but they didn’t look injured.
We let her wander the house on her own for a bit and after she had had some time to re-acclimate, I scooped her up and just held her close and quietly for a bit. Finally after 15 or 20 minutes, she started to relax and began purring as I scratched her neck. Soon after, she was pawing my neck and nuzzling like she does. I just sat and cried. I was so happy she was home.
She was grounded that first week home. At first, she didn’t even want to go outside. As the week progressed, she started laying by the door just gazing out the window. By last Thursday, she was itching to get out. I wouldn’t let her though. She was still gaining weight back and if she disappeared again, she wouldn’t have any extra to keep her going.
My theory is that she must have gotten in a tussle with another animal on the first day and got scared. She must have hid in someone’s garage or shed and got locked in until they opened it back up again. And maybe that homey litter box smell helped her find her way.
I finally let her outside Saturday. I was working in the garden and she likes to get in there with me and inspect the bugs and roll in the dirt. I watched her for awhile, and then decided to let her do her thing. It was a successful day. She never went very far and came around anytime I was outside doing something. She was right there ready to come in when I went out to get them. Sunday was also a success. Since then, she’s been going out in the evenings when I get home from work and she still doesn’t go very far.
And every day I still tell her how happy I am that she’s home. There’s no doubt, I might not be a cat person, but I’m definitely my cats’ person!
So since I’m new to this whole cat thing, maybe someone can help us figure something out. Selina still hisses at her and they’ve had a couple of little cat fights since Tasha came home. What happened? I thought at first maybe Selina was mad at her for being gone so long, but I would think that by now, 2 weeks later, they would be back to being inseparable. It makes me sad to see it. The only good thing is that now Pepper seems to be on equal standing (or tolerance) with both cats. Before it was more of a Pepper/Tasha thing, then when Tasha was gone, Selina started playing with Pepper more. Now they both will play with her, just not each other. Why is Selina acting like that towards her? Any ideas?