And Then Something Amazing Happened
It’s true that, at one time, we had a cat named Simon. Simon made an indelible mark on our lives for non-extraordinary reasons, namely – he peed on everything. For this reason, and also because I find cats to be persnickety in general, he did not make it onto my Top 5 Favorite Pets list. Don’t worry, don’t worry. Not making “the list” doesn’t deprive an animal of anything actually. It just means they don’t have to withstand my constant attention which I’m guessing can get annoying, actually. Especially if you’re a finicky feline constantly obsessed with choosing an inanimate object to bestow with urine. I paint a pretty picture of this cat, don’t I? Right. So it’s for these reasons that I was generally silent about what happened to Simon when we officially moved him out to the land almost four months ago. Since he was a very happy outdoor cat, we knew the move would be particularly troublesome. He would be unhappy kept inside, as you’re supposed to do in a move, and he’d be overwhelmed by the new surroundings. We compromised by keeping him inside for just one week instead of the 2-3 weeks many people recommended. And even that amount of time was barely manageable. For the duration of that miserable week he sulked and paced and yowled at the edge of every window. He pawed at the glass doors and howled from under the couch. Kitty cat wanted outside badly enough that one morning, around 5am, I went to the back door where he was standing and mewing loudly and just – opened it. He ran onto the porch, his tail swishing crazily from side to side as if he imagined an entire forest of easy-to-catch squirrels just beyond the concrete for the taking. I grabbed his litter box and food and placed them next to the door hoping the scent of both would remind him where home was. Then I turned on the porch light. And I went inside.
We haven’t seen him since.
The details of my actions are probably going to be viewed as hasty and irresponsible, but I assure you that the cat was feeling much more strain during his week of imprisonment inside than he ever felt as a cat on the loose in the woods. At least that’s what I told myself repeatedly with guilt during the weeks after his disappearance. As the weeks stretched into months, we stopped wondering if he’d ever return and were certain he’d probably met his fate (in the mouth of a coyote) on that first morning in the woods.
Four months later: Friday night I stood at the edge of the goat pen when the dogs raced by barking at something in the dark. Normally, I ignore this behavior. Let’s be honest – my dogs bark at and “chase” leaves blowing across the driveway. I’ve learned their actions rarely justify the drama. On this night, however, my sister had stopped by and said, “No, they were actually chasing something sort of low to the ground?” which caused me to run to the edge of the woods with the flashlight where I saw two eyes peer back at me, blink a couple of times and disappear. I shouted for Jer, saying there was something in the woods we should track down (we’re always wary of coyote. You never know). At the precise moment Jer ran out onto the porch, I saw a white streak literally jump from the edge of the woods and stand paralyzed for a moment before my dogs chased it back into the trees.
Jer turned to me, mouth hanging open, “Um. Was that SIMON?” And just as he said the name we heard the distinct, low yowling sound of our old Siamese cat from somewhere out in the woods. I ran into the trees, called his name and finally, huddled next to a rotting stump, was our runaway cat. We brought him to the house and fed him well – shocked at his excellent condition despite being incredibly skinny. Since Friday he has returned for dinner two times, and I expect it will continue in this fashion until he starts to stick around for breakfast and then for a snooze on a porch chair. I’ve been wrong before, but I have a feeling. It’s obvious that Simon had a wild oat to sew and also that we seriously underestimated his survival skills. And not to over-dramatize the situation, but it did restore my belief in second chances and keeping the faith and all that. It also restored my belief that every single item on our porch will soon be covered in Simon pee.