Wednesday, August 06, 2008
The Amazing Invisible Cat
I got home late from work yesterday, only to have Gary tell me that he hadn't seen Bali all day. This is more than unusual: not only is Bali very fond of his foodbowls and toys, but we call him our "puppy-cat" because he likes to be close to us, especially to Gary and Gary's keyboard.
Gary had searched everywhere in the house, several times, and had done sweeps of the garage. No Bali. "He must have gotten outside," Gary said. He could have slipped into the garage when I was leaving in the morning, or when Gary was taking out the garbage, and then gotten outside when the garage door opened. He's terrified of that noise, and it always sends him racing back into the house, but maybe this time, he raced in the other direction.
My heart sank. I thought of cars, dogs, coyotes. The last time a cat ran off, we never saw him again; it was heartbreaking. That's why we're so careful about keeping the cats inside. "At least he's micro-chipped," I said, "so if someone catches him and he gets brought to a shelter or a vet, we'll get him back."
We went outside. We looked in the backyard and under the deck; no Bali. We looked in the front yard. No Bali, although we did see a cute rabbit, a sight I'd have enjoyed more if I hadn't been worried sick about the Black Fuzzball of Doom.
We went back inside. We searched the house again. We got flashlights and did another sweep of the garage. "There are a lot of hiding places in here," I said, looking at the welter of boxes and old luggage and bicycle parts heaped against one wall. "I can't imagine him running outside. He's terrified of the garage door; it would make more sense for him to hide in here. Remember how he hid behind the shoes all day when the AT&T guy was here?"
So we started moving boxes, old luggage, and bicycle parts. We started at the end closest to the garage door and worked back, towards the house. I kept thinking I saw movement, or cat-shaped shadows, but it always turned out to be nothing, just a trick of the flashlight.
Finally, when we'd gotten almost all the way to the wall the garage shares with the house, I saw something wedged between an old chair and an empty box. Was that a patch of black fur, or were my eyes playing tricks on me again?
I touched it. Fur!
"Bali!" I said, and stroked the fur. A moment later, I saw two golden eyes as he raised his head. "Gary, I found him!"
"Oh, thank God!"
He wasn't crazy about being coaxed out -- he must have been really scared by the garage door -- but we got him back into the house, where he chowed down on his catfood while Gary and I cleaned off the layers of dust we'd accumulated in the garage. We gave him extra pats all night; when we were watching TV, he even curled up on my lap for a millisecond, which is unheard of.
Gary called him "the Prodigal Son." I was thinking more of the one lost sheep, myself. In any case, I think it's interesting that Gary leaped to Biblical allusions as quickly as I did, even though he always says he's an apathist.
There are no apathists when it comes to lost cats.