Last night, the little girl at right vanished. Not ‘found a new hiding spot’ vanished – she was gone. I’d been away all day. I managed to get home right at 4:30pm. This is feline supper time. I hurried to the boat, rushed through feeding the cats (all present and accounted for at this time), then sped back out to go meet my husband for supper in town.
We had a very nice dinner. We talked money, plans, and goals. Most of it was in reference to RWA National. I’d decided I wasn’t going to the conference this year – it’s just so danged expensive! I’d said that the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention in Chicago would be my only con this year…Except that I completely forgot that I’d submitted a workshop proposal to National. On a lark. It was accepted. I’ve never gotten to speak at National before…so now I have a conference ticket and the impetus to come up with the cash for getting to Anaheim, a hotel room, food and a way back. Thus, we were discussing the pros and cons of having the family make a capital contribution to the writing business. Ice cream may have been involved.
That made it 6:30 or so when we strolled down the dock in the dark. I opened the enclosure door (a zipped and snapped canvas door ). The other cats got up to see if they could weasel more food out of us…but there was no Hatshepsut. We put our stuff down, thinking she’d ooze out of a cat bed eventually and come ask for kibble. She didn’t. I called. No answer. I began disassembling cat beds – this cat likes caves – she wants to curl up in a bed and have a blanket over the top of her as if she were in a tent. I should have just had kids. They grow out of the tent phase.
Still no little brown and white tabby cat. My heart sinking, I recall that when I opened the enclosure door, the zipper hadn’t been all the way closed. Apparently, in my rush to go back to town, I hadn’t secured the door properly. A little voice told me that my indoor only cat had gone walkabout in the night.
“Shake the kibble bag,” my husband said as I bolted for the door to begin searching the dock and other boats. I asked him to do that while I dove back out into the cold, shaking all over in sick fear. I called as my husband dropped kibble into the cat dish from enough height to be sure it made that bowl ring.
A thin, plaintive meow sounded from up the dock.
“I hear her!” I yelled. “She’s outside!”
She’d taken refuge behind a dock box several boats up. We’d walked right past her on our way back to the boat and we’d never had a hint that she was hunkered back there. Had she not answered me and then set up a blanket “MOMCOMEGETME!” blanket meow, I might never have found her. As it was, she wouldn’t let me walk up to her. That was too threatening. I had to crouch down in the middle of the dock, hold my hand out, rub my fingers together and coax her to me. She crept out of hiding to sniff my fingers. I could see relief move through her as some of the tension left her body. She came to lean against my leg and allowed me to scoop her up and carry her home.
The funny part – after I was able to pick myself up off the floor to appreciate humor again – was just how she attacked that bowl of kibble – eating as if she’d been outside in the cold world for two days instead of two hours.