by Joe Longo
The day started off badly. I had a meeting at 9 am. When I went outside to get something from my car, I noticed that one of the gates that lead from our backyard to the street was open. I don’t know how that happened; we’re always careful to close it. We have two kitties, Marlowe and Cookie. Marlowe is pretty much an indoor kitty and occasionally wanders in the backyard. Cookie, however is a curious kitty and likes to explore. But he is a bit of a runt and cannot get over any of the fences that surround our property and cannot escape out a window because they are all covered with screens. So he stays in the backyard. Once he got out and I found him sniffing around our neighbor’s garden.
So when I noticed the gate open, I panicked wondering if Cookie had gotten out. I went into the house to look for him, loudly calling his name. Usually, at 9 am he sleeps. So I checked his sleeping haunts. On the bed. Under the bed. In all closets, In the bathroom. In the bathtub. Under the couch. Under the TV unit. Under all the furniture. In the laundry room. And amid a pile of dirty laundry. No Cookie anywhere. Our other kitty, Marlowe, heard me calling his brother’s name and walked alongside of me as I searched. He saw my concern and his face registered concern.
Then I went outside and started to walk up and down our street, still calling his name. Looking in my neighbors’ front yards to see if he was there. No Cookie. I went back into the house, hoping to see his furry presents. But again no Cookie. Then I opened a can of cat food, which is the treat that he loves and traversed every inch of the house again with the can aloft calling his name. I then went outside again with the can still aloft calling his name. After two hours of searching, I called my husband who was at work and told him that Cookie was missing. He asked if I had checked all the usual spots. I insisted that I did. Are you sure? he said. Yes, I insisted again. He said he would come home for lunch.
Then despair set in. There are occasional coyotes wandering through our neighbor. I envisioned him in the mouth of one. But coyotes usually don’t wander the streets in the morning when there is traffic. Then I envisioned myself making one of those dreaded fliers with his picture on it. There are a number of them posted in our neighborhood.
Recently, I was in a bookstore and there was this attractive couple with their 3 year old girl. The couple was browsing, and then the mother turned and did not see her daughter. She looked around frantically. Her panic was clearly evident on her face. She quickly found her daughter.
Sitting in my living room, after my futile attempts looking for Cookie, I felt the way that woman felt. But my panic was lasting for hours. Her panic was only a brief moment. One of our babies was missing, but she found her baby quickly. I had begun to lose hope. My husband came home, and started to search for Cookie. Then suddenly when I was feeling the most depressed and in my darkest despair, Cookie suddenly appeared, indifferently prancing down our hallway. He had been hiding somewhere in the back of the house, oblivious to me frantically calling his name and to the stress that he caused. I was angry and yelled at him, but the relief of seeing him, after having all those dark thoughts, made me pick him up and hug him close to me.
This story has a happy ending and thankfully Cookie was safe. But the situation left me frustrated and contemplating the eternal question: why don’t kitties always respond to their names being called, (like dogs) and in my this case, calling his name for more than four hours.