Two weeks ago today I was sleep deprived after the first time ever that Rocco did not come home.
That’s right, Rocco
He’s never not come home at dusk.
He doesn’t like to be out in the cold. Every night for almost three years (as long as I’ve had him) he comes in as soon as it starts to get dark and curls up some place warm. Usually on a chair under the dining room table. One of the few places undisturbed (usually), but small children or a dog.
That night, he never came home. I tried to sleep, but kept thinking I heard the dog door. (I know he’s a cat, but I do have a dog, and even if I didn’t, I will always call it a dog door). Anyway, in the morning, no cat. Rascal was pacing around, concerned about his brothers absence. I had to work all day, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him.
The next night, it was cold.
The coldest it had been all year! At least where I live, that’s still pretty warm for winter. Still, he never came home. All the most horrible thoughts ran through my mind all night long! Rascal cuddled up with me and he doesn’t always sleep in my bed. He was worried, too. He pressed into my side all night trying to find comfort.
The next day, again, I had to work. I don’t usually work weekends. Of course it had to be the one weekend I was working like crazy and a freak freeze was happening!
I came home that afternoon for lunch, and walked the neighborhood looking for him. Scanning the street gutters, thinking he was perhaps hit by a car. My husband searched to the lot behind our house where boats and campers are parked, no sign of him.
I looked up lost pets online for our local shelter. I didn’t know they post pictures when they find an animal now! How great is that? For info and some great tips, go to: How to look for a lost pet.
He didn’t appear to be there, but I called anyway. No, they had no one of that description. The one black and white they had, had been there almost a month and was found far from where I live.
My son and I made flyers and posted them around the neighborhood.
Calling and searching as we walked it again. Then we took a flyer door to door asking each neighbor to check their cars and garages. I have seen both cats inside parked cars on our street!
You saw this photo on my Curiosity Killed the Cat post. That’s Rocco in the picture above. This was only a few days earlier. From my kitchen window, I looked up and saw both cats climbing around inside this car! I ran outside and called them and they both squeezed out of the window, which wasn’t open all that wide, as you can see! By the time I had my phone ready and clicked the picture, Rascal was out and Rocco was almost out of there.
The cat’s also think every garage in the neighborhood is theirs to explore. I’ve seen them in almost every one of them in my complex when one is left open. They have no boundaries, these two! I’ve even seen Rascal go into a few neighbors’ houses or heard about it later! He has no shame.
They go into the garage straight across from us most often. I spoke to the person living there and he had not seen him, but said he would check the cars and call a friend who had stopped by, to make sure Rocco hadn’t hopped into his car. That neighbor had had his garage open a few times earlier in the day, according to my husband, so I knew he couldn’t be in there.
Having done everything I could think of, I left for work.
On a whim, I stopped by the shelter just to look, even though they had told me over the phone that he wasn’t there. Seeing the kitties there just about broke my heart! It was all I could do not to break them all out and take them home with me!
I was at work until late, trying to hide my anxiety, to smile and play with the kids I was caring for. Turns out two of the other teachers were recently missing cats as well (out of a total of four of us; that’s 3 out of 4 people in case you can’t handle that math)! Was there a secret feline convention going on somewhere??
When I finally got home, my husband informed me…
he had found Rocco!!
After dark, when the street was quiet, he walked around calling him and when Rocco heard him, he started meowing, more like howling to get out! He was in the neighbors garage right across from ours! Why, oh, why he hadn’t just come out when they had the door open, only he could tell you. Perhaps their laundry pile was just too irresistible?!
I have not clue. I went out and called him and he answered with some very long, forlorn meows. The garage light was on and in the side window, just through a space in the blinds, I could just see him pacing back and forth behind the garage door.
It hadn’t looked like the neighbors were going anywhere for long, so I waited for them to get home. It was freezing, so of course I waited in the comfort of my own home with my somewhat brighter animals who managed not to get locked away and not come out when they had the chance!
I waited until one o’clock in the morning, but had to get some sleep. Again, I had a busy day the next day. I was so exhausted I fell right to sleep. When I came down in the morning, who did I see… Rocco, sitting on the dining room chair, preening his lovely fur as if he’d never been missed.
When I opened a can of deliciousness, he ate…. and ate. I waited a while and made sure Rascal was out, who I assumed wouldn’t leave his side today, but he went out the first chance he got. Must be as annoyed with him as I was! Then, I fed him even more. He ate three small helpings of wet food. I tried to space it out and give him a little at a time.
I didn’t want him to eat too much too fast and throw it up, but I knew he was dehydrated and needed it. And I was just so happy to have him back I wanted to give him whatever he wanted, even though part of me wanted to throttle him!
I debated never letting him out again.
I, at the very least, was not letting him out that day.. that was until ten minutes later when my three year old opened the back door and out he went! Oh well.
Some have been telling me all these reasons why theirs are indoor cats. I just can’t deprive them of the joys and freedom of outside. I certainly wouldn’t want to be locked in my whole life for my safety. But I know it depends on where you live, weather conditions (here it really doesn’t get very cold), and other factors.
Hopefully he learned his lesson. I somehow doubt it.