any creature larger than a fist
Tuesday, January 14 2014
By this morning Walter had vanished completely. Since it's winter and the doors are closed, it seemed unlikely that he'd actually left the house (that would require knowledge of the pet door, which we assumed he didn't have). So we searched every place he could possibly be, which (since all the doors in the basement were closed) mostly included the rooms of the upstairs, particularly my laboratory, where Julius (aka "Stripey") can vanish for hours at a time when we have visitors.
But Walter was nowhere in evidence. Strangely, Stripey was also missing, though it seemed unlikely he had gone outside (it had been raining this morning and continued doing so steadily all day). The absence of Stripey gave us some hope that somewhere in the house were unknown spaces where the cats could be hiding. But as the hours wore on, it seemed stranger and stranger that Walter would remain hidden. He didn't have any special fear of Susan or her two dogs. Then again, neither did Stripey, who had nearly acclimated to the two strange dogs in the house. And he was still missing too.
Susan and Gretchen walked the dogs, went to look at real estate on Zena Road in Woodstock (it was the first good property they'd seen), and then Gretchen whipped up a Thai-inspired noodle dish. Eventually Susan and the dogs headed back to the City, and I thought maybe then the missing cats would emerge. But they didn't.
I knew from experience that it did no good to call out for Walter. But Stripey has a weakness for catnip, and he will appear out of nowhere if he hears the crinkling of the plastic bag that I keep it in. So I got the bag and crinkled it loudly while calling for him. When he appeared, it was from beneath a low wooden platform used to conceal a number of pipes in the southwest corner of the teevee room. The geometry of the house near that corner is complicated; it's beneath a valley between two gabled roofs meeting at right angles and there is a small strangely-shaped space in there somewhere that is not part of either the bathroom or the teevee room and it might be accessible from beneath that platform. Looking under there, all I could see were bats of fibreglass insulation, but when I poked that stuff with a long pole southwestward, it seemed possible that there was a void back there, though it seemed doubtful a cat could actually be hiding there. But what had Stripey been doing there for all those hours? It seemed like typical feline standoff behavior to me.
Later Gretchen went out for dinner and then a movie with Sarah the Vegan and others while back here at thouse it became increasingly apparent that Walter was no longer here. Evidently he has slipped out through the pet door into the big cruel world and had then kept going. (I'd checked all the outdoor places he might have been sheltering from the rain.) Was he the kind of cat that homed in on some place where he used to live, using feline GPS? If so, he had a long walk ahead of him, in the winter, with two disadvantages: a weight problem and recently-clipped claws. There are two morals from this story: never assume a new cat is happy in your house and never assume any creature larger than a fist will be stopped by a pet door.
Remembering that Keira (also spelled "Kiera") had simply crossed the street and moved in with the Fussies, I designed a flyer for us to stick in our neighbors' mailboxes and then went to bed early, feeling depressed.
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