A Girl and Her CatApril 2nd, 2010
Oh Thank God.
So George, my two-year old Tabby and only remaining pet, had not been seen by his lovely petsitter, Natasha, since the day her duties began… roughly the same day I left for the East Coast. Needless to say the cruise and all other away-from-LA activities were pretty stressful for me, knowing that George had gone AWOL. He had never spent even 14 hours away from home, let alone 14 days.
I kept hearing from people that cats can do this. Freak you out. Make you think they’re dead. Give you a flipping heart attack. But it seemed like George… gone 14 days? He’s a fat cat that likes nothing more than to hang around the house all day chillaxing. It didn’t fit the profile. But I figured the spring, and a surge in whatever male hormones he still has, could propel him on a walkabout. Weirder things had happened, according to the internet and various positive-thinking cat lovers.
So Natasha walked around the neighborhood calling "George!" and phoned the local shelters (thank you!). Christy put out fliers in the neighborhood (thank you!). She also put out articles of my clothing all around the house to help G pick up my scent if he’d strayed afar. I even had a couple of good Samaritans call me after they’d seen the fliers asking what color George’s paws were and how they could help.
People are good.
When I finally got back to LA, I felt slightly better and felt a modicum of control, just being back in the neighborhood. I put out more stinky socks and smelly sweaters to "entice" George home. But it had been 14 days, and I only felt a 50/50 chance of a happy ending. I scoured the internet for tips and stories about finding lost cats. Which, in retrospect, was a really smart thing to do. Many sites said to go looking between 1 and 5 a.m.–the feline witching hours. I had thought to pay more attention in the evening, but not really in the middle of the night. So I set my trusty iPhone for 2 a.m. and went to bed, determined but not entirely hopeful about my own walkabout.
The alarm went off. I touched snooze.
It went off again. Snooze again.
Finally, at 3:30, I got out of bed, saying out loud "Okay George, let’s do this".
That was sort of weird, to say it out loud.
In the few hours I had slept, I had a dream about George being the father of a large and happy litter about 4 blocks to the east and north of my house. Never mind that George is neutered, in this dream, his new territory felt like 28th street and Pearl. I wanted to cover that area tonight, just in case dreams mean something. But I also got a strong sense to simply check our back alley… the one closest to the house. A place where, were I a cat, I would hang out and shoot craps and smoke stogies with the other locals.
So I walked down the alley, feeling like an idiot, shaking a bag of treats, half-whispering "Georrrrrrge". I call his name in this weird pretentious Mid-Atlantic Madonna-esque accent. I have no idea why.
I walk by one back yard fence. Then the next. "Georrrrrrrge!"
"Meow!" Holy crap. "Meow! Meow! Meow! MEOW!" These meows are persistent. Urgent. LOUD. And they’re coming from inside someone’s corrugated metal shed. Behind a tall fence. Regardless of the obstacles, I am overjoyed. It sounds like him. He’s definitely responding to me and most important, his voice is strong. Which means he’s not that close to Kitty Heaven.
I go home. Call the police because animal control isn’t answering. They say to call animal control in the morning.
I figure out which house he’s behind and google who purchased that property. I then search for them on a people-finding site to get a phone number. Turns out my neighbor is a hoity toity producer! Not bad. I have visions of cat-induced networking. Oh wait. That’s 25th street. I live on 23rd. Turns out I’m not so sharp at 4:30 a.m.
Then I tromp over to the house to make sure of the address. I see 2504 at 4:35 a.m. Turns out it’s 2524, but Mister Haber, who lives at 2504, was very nice when I called him at 7 a.m. to report that I was sure my cat was inside his garden shed. It’s hard to see in the middle of the night!
Finally, I figure out who lives at 2524 by doing a property-sale search. It’s important because they’re not answering the door. And there’s no car in the driveway. And it’s a holiday weekend. I then go to the good old White Pages (the actual ones) and get their number. I call and leave a message. Their voicemail is cute, which a little kid leaving the message. I figure they don’t want their daughter finding a cat skeleton in the garden shed when they get back from Easter weekend and may, if contacted, give me permission to break the lock. Fingers crossed.
At 8 a.m., Animal Control picks up the phone. They send out a lovely lady (also named Jessica) who tells me she can’t break into someone’s property, but suggests we go look in the alley anyway.
Behind the house, I yell "Georrrrrge" and she also hears him in the shed, behind the tall, locked fence… clearly beyond the line of the law. She says to leave a note… that the family should be coming back soon. I say he might have been there for up to two weeks… I pull the quivering lip. She’s not buying it. And then…
She notices that it says on the fence "2602". Not 2524 (I know the numbers make no sense, but that’s how my street rolls). 2602??? I peer between the slats of the fence, and sure enough, it seems that this shed sits on a totally different property than I had first thought. God, I can be a numbskull! And not only do I know the owners of said property, they are old, never leave the house and we’re on very friendly terms. GEORGE!!! YOU’RE COMING HOME!!!!!!
So I knock on Virginia’s door. She’s sweet. Gives me a hug. Within 30 seconds, she reminds us that she’s 86. And when the animal control officer and I tell her that my cat’s in the shed, she tells her husband, Joe. Now I’ve met Joe and he is a lovely guy. Also getting up there. And God bless him, Joe is totally blind. The animal control officer asks if she can go out back and open the shed. Seems Joe has a certain pride of place that won’t allow that. We follow Joe out to the yard and upon saying "Georrrrge" to the shed, it meows back. Joe doesn’t believe the cat is actually in the shed, but it’s clear he is. Joe fingers through a huge key chain to find the key. He says he put some stuff in the shed a while ago, "way more than a week ago" he says with concern. It takes Joe a few minutes to find the key to the lock, but when he does… abracadabra… George is back.
Now most of these stories end with skinny cats who look a little dirty. Well, somehow George doesn’t seem to have lost any weight at the Garden Shed Spa, but he does smell a little musty. When he first ate, he made a weird moaning sound, but I guess… after 14 days, I would too.
He’s stressed. Meowing a lot in a hoarse little voice. But he’s finally settling down a bit. We’ve had our first cuddles and head butts.
I’m in shock that he’s back. A wonderful shock.
Thanks to every single one of you who held my hand over the last two weeks. Who prayed. Who listened to me cry. Who visualized George and I being together again. Your thoughts are powerful.
He’s on my lap and my heart feels whole.