We didn’t make a grand public announcement, but sometime the week after Kat died (9/23), her kitty Tag went missing. We were not happy about it, but having never owned a cat, we relied on the word of the “cat people” in our lives. We trusted them that he had found a good hiding place somewhere in the house and that he would come out of hiding as soon as it got quiet. There had been so many people coming and going and making lots of noise, so it was understandable that he would be hiding.
After Kat’s service, Tag was still missing and it felt like a double whammy. Several of us went on a thorough room to room search and did not turn him up anywhere. At this point we were pretty sure he was no longer in the house. We were both pretty upset about this. Tag was a part of Kat that we were looking forward to keeping with us. On top of that, we were feeling guilty for not taking good care of him like we promised. There was nothing good about this turn of events.
We followed all the advice that friends had given us: I found the info on Tag’s microchip and reported him missing. We put some of Kat’s clothing and Tag’s toys on the front steps and in the sunroom. We posted his picture and story on our neighborhood’s Facebook page. We were grateful for friends who covered our neighborhood with fliers. Jeanie decided that he’d be more likely to come into the sunroom than the front porch, so she put his litter box, toys and Kat’s clothes back there and we left the door ajar so he could get in. He wouldn’t be able to get all the way into the house, but he’d be under cover. We put water out for him, but no food. I’ve seen ‘possums in the yard and I wasn’t crazy about the idea of feeding them.
Days passed with no sign of him at all. I mentioned letting Kat’s landlord in Asheville know in case this became one of those stories where the pet found its way back home. In actuality, Jeanie and I had both just about given up all hope of ever seeing him again. Then on Thursday, October 4th just as I was drifting off to sleep, which had not been very good the last few weeks, in the wee hours of the morning, Jeanie texted me, “I just saw a black cat in the sunroom.” I came downstairs and she told me when they locked eyes, he beat feet out of the room and back into the wild. I suggested that we add food to the enticements, so she put some of his dry food out. The next morning some of it was gone. I replaced what was eaten with a single layer of food on the bottom of the dish, so we could tell how much was gone and added a floor lamp so that we could see him better. At this point, I was pretty sure we had Tag and hopeful we could catch him.
Thursday night, we were out at the store and when we returned, there was a little food missing. I was looking at the dish through the sliding glass door and telling Jeanie, when he came out of hiding under the sofa and darted out the door. It was then, that I decided we needed to shut the door to the sunroom while he was in there. The problem is that he didn’t stay in there very long and he would be able to see us sneaking up on him. The one time I saw him in there, a neighbor turned on their porch light and spooked him. I let him have Thursday night to get comfortable and I learned how to watch for him better. The best vantage point was from the upstairs bedroom. Oh how I wished I had night vision goggles. Watching for this black shadow to move was tiresome. I felt like we should be playing the Mission Impossible theme.
On Friday, we borrowed a humane small animal trap to get him. Jeanie bought his favorite wet food (nasty gross stuff) and I baited the trap. Jeanie had driven up to meet Danae and bring Molly to our house later that evening. I was hoping to have a kitty in the trap when she arrived. I watched for him and when he went in, it was clear that he was not going in that trap. The trap was a small, confined cage and there was no way he was entering it. He ate the other food that was intended to lure him into the trap and left. I got this on a video with my phone.
I realized that plan A was still our best option. The whole sunroom would have to be the trap and I would have to be the one to spring it. I put some more nasty wet food out and rearranged things to try to get him further into the room, then I went upstairs to wait. As soon as I saw him go in, I ran downstairs and was just about to go out the front door when I heard the garage door open. Jeanie and Molly were coming in! Rats! So I stopped them and tried to get around, but Tag was already gone. Sigh! Not sure if it was because I took too long, or if the sound of the car pulling up or the garage door spooked him. In any case, we still didn’t have a kitty.
After we got Molly in bed, I put some more food out and setup in my perch to watch for the “fuzzy little bastard” (Kat’s nickname for him). I saw him prance around the yard a bit, but it was well over an hour before he approached the room door again. When it was clear he was on his way in, I ran downstairs, out the garage door (which was still open), around the side of the house and into view of the sunroom. I couldn’t see him, so I wasn’t sure if he was still in there. I crept slowly towards the door and then we saw each other. He was so surprised, he didn’t know which way to run. I ran for the door and shut it. He went ballistic! Poor thing was frightened completely out of his wits. Our sunroom is attached to the house on one side and the other three walls are simply sliding glass doors, which were open to the screens. He climbed up the screens to the ceiling twice (ripping them as he went) the second time he jumped from the ceiling into our Ikea lamp (it’s the droopy one with the paper shade) and it disintegrated from his claws.
Jeanie was watching the whole thing from inside the house. Her response was, “I saw it happen, but I still don’t believe it!” As soon as he stopped flying, I opened the door and stepped in. I spoke very calmly to him as I walked around the room shutting the sliding doors over the screens. Jeanie was desperately trying to get my attention to show me that I had not completely shut the door when I came in. I finally saw it and Tag trying as hard as he could to open the door just a little more. I firmly closed his final opportunity for escape. Then I sat down and Jeanie came out. We just spoke softly to him for quite a while without trying to approach him, just letting him calm down in his own time.
After about 15 minutes, he was crouched behind the couch and I reached out to touch him. I was surprised that he let me touch him. Not too much later, I scratched him behind the ears and before long, he was actually climbing in our laps! The whole time I was posting a play-by-play on Facebook, so I know exactly how long it took. At exactly 11:05, I posted “I win!” That was after I caught him and before I went in the sunroom. By 11:45 he was eating the rest of that nasty food he loves so much and was climbing in our laps by 11:49. I was very surprised. When I saw him freak out, I thought it might take days to get him inside.
We decided to move him inside to the temporary downstairs bedroom where Kat stayed. He wasn’t interested in being carried, so I let him walk into the house (not knowing where he might go). He went right into the room we wanted him in with his toys and food.
He seems to be glad to be with us again. He is climbing on the back of the couch while we watch TV. The one thing that seems to disturb him is when the people in the house are in different rooms. For instance, Jeanie was downstairs when I came up to the office to type this tonight. He came up here and gave me a piece of his mind!
It might be completely irrational, but it feels like we got a little piece of Kat back.