Lost

I didn’t write much of anything last week because I didn’t want to write about this, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to. I still don’t feel much like writing, honestly, but maybe some catharsis will help. Last Wednesday, after a full day of hustling and bustling for everyone, late at night Matt realized our cat Marbles wasn’t home. I thought maybe he got locked in the basement — he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere nearby, outside, and I actually hadn’t seen him at all that day. Matt was sure all three cats were around for dinner time the night prior, so at some point on Wednesday, he disappeared.

As people with three indoor/outdoor cats, a missing kitty is a risk we take every time we open the door, but until now, Marbles has always come home. He’s wandered, yes, and got himself into and out of some sticky situations, but despite our very best efforts to locate him, he’s still gone. We’ve been searching, followed cat tracks, left out food and things that smell like home, put up posters, emailed vets and shelters, but nothing. I’m heartened by the social media response of people in this town to missing pets, and we have a lot of people keeping their eyes out, but still — nothing.

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Every time I walk by a door, I hope he’ll appear. Every time I pull into the driveway I hope he’ll be sitting on the window ledge waiting to be let in.

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At this point we have had to accept that it’s equally likely that we will never see him again as it is that he’ll show up. There are lots of things that could have happened to him and all I can hope is that he comes back, and if he can’t come back, that at least he’s happy wherever he may be.

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It feels absolutely awful to not know where he is and know that we may never figure it out. There have been a lot of tears in our household over the last few days. I feel guilty, like I’ve let part of my family down. But I’m trying to remember this — we saved Marbles from the pound just before he was scheduled to be put down. That was in 2011, and he has had almost four years with us, free to eat well, get lots of belly rubs, and enjoy a good life. Matt asked me, if we knew back then that he would one day disappear, would we still say yes? And the answer to that is of course. If someone returned him tomorrow and told me he’d go missing again in another year I’d say yes.

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The first day he was allowed to come upstairs to our bedroom he spent a solid hour purring and attempting to lick my hair. He didn’t just tolerate M’s brutal petting — he actively sought her out.

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I once watched him attempt to jump out of a closed upper-story window. He chased invisible things in the snow. He was friends with everything and everyone. He loved being outside.

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I had to put all of that in the past tense and it hurts. Please keep our buddy in your thoughts.

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“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.”― Irving Townsend

Things I Think About at 4 AM…

… while Marbles is scaling the bedroom walls trying to get at the window, successfully getting at the window, meowing at the world outside, and whacking his tail off of the sill while he’s at it.

  • Did a cat just fall on my head? Why is there a cat on my head?
  • I wonder if his claws are going to dig into the finish on the bed frame.
  • I wonder if his claws are digging into my expensive trim paint, too.
  • Does he realize the sill is too narrow for him to be comfortable?
  • What does he see out there that is so interesting?
  • Does he really think I’m going to let him outside via the window at 4 a.m.?
  • If I shut the window, will he not be able to fit in the sill anymore and thus go away?
  • Did I just make it easier for him to sit up there?
  • I wonder if I could wrap his tail in bubble wrap.
  • Hmm. Matt hitting him with a pillow is doing nothing. If Matt hit me with a pillow I’d probably move.
  • I wonder if he’s upset that Matt hit him with a pillow enough times to make him run away.
  • I wonder what the memory/attention span of an average cat is, because he’s back already.
  • If I pet him, will he stay down here?
  • Why is there a cat on my head?!

So. There are dirty little cat footprints all over my windowsill. The finish on the bed frame seems to have weathered the claws (as has my face). No Marbleses were harmed (pillows are soft). Maybe tomorrow, when I’m not so tired from battling a damn kitty at 4 a.m., I’ll share some photos of our new bed…

Stray Cat Strut

The weather has been nice enough lately that we’re letting the cats out in the morning before work, checking on them over lunch, and bringing them back in before dark. Marbles is usually our roamer but he’s been spending time in the yard, so I wasn’t really surprised when I came home last Friday and my dad, who is visiting us, told me he thought he had seen Marbles come around, but he was sure looking rough.

Along with being our roamer, he’s the cat who falls into the creek and rolls in dirt so I figured if he was around and looking scruffy, he had been up to no good. A few minutes later I saw one of our neighbours walk by, her daughter on a bike behind her, and a black and white cat trailing them. It looked like a fallen-in-the-lake-and-dried Marbles, so I went out and called him… and called him… and he kept walking.

“He keeps following us,” called over my neighbour’s daughter. I realized there’s no way Marbles would be that friendly, so I said, “Is that your cat?” She said no, then returned the question, so I said, “I don’t think he is, but I’ll come check.”

As soon as I got within five feet I knew it wasn’t Marbles, but the closer I got the more I realized this kitty was not doing well. He had a scruffy coat, snotty nose, and, as my neighbour’s son said, “When you pet him you can feel all the bones in his back.” That being said, he was really, really friendly. Apparently he had been following them for quite some time. I offered to call bylaw, who are our animal control officers as well, because I vaguely remembered an emergency contact from the time we adopted Marbles and Maggie.

I thought the cat would keep following them, I’d call bylaw and everyone would carry on, but as soon as I said goodbye and started back up to my house, the cat turned his following ways over to me — all the way up onto our deck. I chucked Murphy and Maggie, who were quite interested, into the house, then started making phone calls. Turns out bylaw closes earlier than I remembered.

So, I called the no-kill shelter in Dryden, wondering if they had any contacts I didn’t know about. The answer was sorry, but you’re going to have to wait for bylaw to come tomorrow — make sure your cats don’t go near him because he seems sick, and if you want to give him food and water, that’d be very kind.

I filled up a bowl of food, and another bowl of water, and kitty stuffed his face, as much as he could with what seemed like a sore mouth or a lack of teeth. When Matt got home he kind of shook his head at me for being a bleeding heart, then ascertained that this little dude was more than likely completely deaf. I somehow managed to sneak Marbles in without him freaking out about a Bad Scary Intruder Cat, and wondered if our stray would stick around for the night.

He didn’t leave the deck. He’d sleep for a few minutes, get up, eat, drink, then go back to sleep. As it got darker he got more and more frantic about wanting inside — he was obviously someone’s former pet who knew exactly what inside was all about and desperately wanted to be in, sitting on the couch like the other cats. I had to go to bed because his meowing (his awful, sick kitty meowing) made me too sad. When I woke up at 4:30 am to go to the bathroom I peeked out and he was gone, but when I looked again after the sun was up, he was pressed up against the door, sleeping.

I gave him some food and water, and a few pets (I washed my hands after I touched him, every time) and then called bylaw again. They were there in 10 minutes, kitty walked right into the carrier, gave a few more sad meows, and was gone. Apparently they aren’t too overpopulated at the pound right now so if he fattens up and gets a bit healthier from being indoors, he might get adopted. I don’t have high hopes for a deaf kitty with a funny meow but at the very least, he gets to have regular meals and a warm place to sleep until there’s no room left for him.

(And before you say it, we’re NOT adopting him. It makes me sad to think about him at the pound but NO MORE CATS.)

I hope whoever lost him or left him behind comes back for him.

Marbles the Cat, Autumn 2012

Marbles is known to be a skittish cat. He immediately velcroed himself to us when we picked him up at the shelter, and displayed no signs of nervousness — until one day, we had house guests, and he tried to jump through a second-floor window. We’ve since discovered that he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat, especially around strangers, and especially outside. For the longest time, if either one of us so much as looked at him while he was out of the house, he’d go flying off into the trees and we wouldn’t see him until the next day.

The cats are on a new schedule for going out. We let them out first thing in the morning, they usually come around for lunch, and then they’re out again until we get home. I know that having semi-outdoor cats increases the risk that they’ll get hit by a car, but they’re smart about staying off the road, and really, they love being outside so much that we’ve decided their quality of life is probably bettered for it.

Anyway, since we started them on this new schedule, Marbles has been hanging around the house a lot more. I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t get fed in the morning so he’s hungrier, or because he’s not outside when dusk hits, but he’s been a lot more relaxed about letting one of us pet him every once in awhile, or sitting on the deck without freaking out if we open the door.

I was really surprised, though, when he came running up to me last week while I was sitting in the backyard with my camera. I heard a jingle and figured it was Maggie, but when I turned around, there was Marbles, positively gleeful to see me.

He really would not leave me alone. If I stopped petting him for ten seconds to try to take a picture he’d jump up on my legs and flat-out throw himself onto my face, desperate for attention… until he spotted something behind me and ran away.

Fickle kitty!

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Here comes Santa Paws

I did something on the weekend that took all of twenty minutes and made me feel a bit more festive about this whole Christmas thing. Oh yeah, and it was pretty much free.

I’ve had this tree for many years now, and its made many moves with me. It was never stored properly and I think this may be its last year standing. I figured I’d bring it out one last time, to serve as a place where the cats’ presents can theoretically remain out of feline reach.

Yes, I got the cats presents. It’s three $1 bags of cat treats and a $5 set of toys split three ways. I was going to get them stockings but I thought that might be bordering even closer to crazy cat lady territory. And this way, I got to bring out the little tiny tree garland and little tiny ornaments.

I moved the MEOW ornament from the big tree onto the cat tree. It makes more sense here (and sort of explains why we have a second tree).

The presents are loosely wrapped with tissue paper, with catnip inside the packages. Judging from how many times I had to chuck Marbles off the couch while I was wrapping, they are quite eager for Catmas to arrive.

I was going to label their presents ‘from Santa Paws’ but Matt preferred Kitty Jeebus, who was apparently born on December 23 because that’s when the cats are celebrating Catmas this year. Maggie gets the green gifts, Murphy gets yellow, and Marbles gets red. Not that they’ll lay any claim as to who gets what toy, I’m sure.

This tree is about as tempting as a plateful of turkey to poor Marbles. This is how I imagine he views the shiny, feathery bouncy thing surrounded by catnip that he juuuuust can’t reach.

We normally use this cabinet as a bar stand, so the bottles are being housed elsewhere for the time being. I actually had to shuffle the whole thing over about half a foot because Marbles realized he could bat at the tree topper if he stretched out from the staircase. As you can see in the above photos, rather than a railing we have a smooth, glossy painted, slanted wall, so when he’d step out to make his move he’d usually end up sliding halfway down to the main floor, but I had visions of a broken tree and scattered presents so I opted to nudge it out of his reach.

Merry Catmas!