Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Mysterious Disappearance of Granny Cat

We are not sure of Granny cat's real name or age. She's lived with us for 3 1/2 years since my parents died. I didn't want to inherit this cat plus her brother but I couldn't find a shelter or any one to adopt them in Chicago because of their age and temperaments.

I believe my mom called them "Minnie" and "Mike." Although I love cats, I never had a lot of interaction with them.  They would scoot away when I approached them and were often sequestered in the basement.

I always felt sorry for them.  My mother disliked cats yet she found two kittens in their outdoor shed and had my dad bring them into the house.  She loved them when they were kittens...fed them with a bottle...kept them in an enclosure with soft towels....but when they became cats and started walking around the house and when my mother discovered they were not dogs...i.e. pets that would run to her ...obey her....and cuddle with her on command...she banished them to the basement and allowed them to come upstairs to the main part of the house for a couple hours a day.

My dad spent a lot of time in the was the typical finished basement in and was dad's man cave.  He was a kind man and he liked the when he was in the man cave in the evenings....they frolicked around him and allowed him to touch them. They were more normal in their behavior with him.  Once upstairs though...they became skittish....aloof....and "spooky"...easily frightened by people or things.

As I mentioned, when my parents died...I inherited them.  While I was cleaning and remodeling their house...I tried to normalize the cats.  I let them come upstairs for longer and longer time periods...I tried to touch and handle them.....and talk to them.  "Minnie" seemed to respond to me a little...but Mike was as skittish as ever. 

 When no one agency would take them for adoption, I decided to bring them home with me.  There really wasn't any other solution except to put them to sleep.....which I couldn't do....not with my parents death being so recent.  In moving the cats out to my car to drive home....the male cat....escaped....and dashed down the block at lightening speed. I never found him.  So just "Minnie" came home with me.  I imagined she was petrified....not only was she out of the basement and into the world...but my father, her familiar keeper, was gone and so was her brother...both constants in her life since she was a kitten.

At my house, she remained fearful and skittish.  We carved out a territory for her as we had another cat.  For some reason, I had to go back to Chicago I left her in the care of my husband...a bit of animal whisperer.  When I returned, it was obvious she had imbedded herself on him.  She wouldn't even look at me...even though I fed her and took care of her box and needs...she lived only for my hub's presence . She would jump into his lap and purr...a behavior we had never seen in my parents' house.

She was round and fat and had this furry hanging belly so we called her "Fat Cat." But within a couple of weeks, she became very ill. I took her to the vet.  He was very pessimistic and felt she didn't have much time to live....liver problems....digestion problems....weight loss...all bad signs.  He suggested we try some steroids so her last days would be comfortable.  Well, that was 3 years ago....Minnie, Fat Cat...pulled through somehow...her coat became soft and glossy and she continued to eat like a cow.  Sometimes I even called "Cow Cat"....cause she ate and pooped like one.

Her name continued to evolve.....and  we started calling her "Granny cat" to differentiate her from our new young cat.  Despite a loving home and many names, she remains mostly a spooky cat...always wary...until she spys my hub then she transforms into a more normal cat. She turns into a purring machine, jumps on his desk and rubs up against his face. 

Late Friday evening....I noticed she wasn't waiting for me when I went to feed her.  Hmmmm....but...we were cleaning and getting ready for my daughter's visit so I thought all the house activity had upset her and she was hiding as usual.  I didn't bother calling for her because she just ignores me.  On the radar screen started beeping....I realized I hadn't seen her.  I asked hub...when did you last see Granny cat?  My daughter was now here so again we dismissed her disappearance to the fact that a new person was in the house. But then...with a nagging bad feeling.... I checked the cat box....nothing...clean as a whistle...and this cat was never constipated in her I knew she wasn't hiding...she was gone.
So...I gathered the kids and we searched the house....flashlights out....looking under couches....checking the closets....looking beyond her usual territory in the house. No cat.  

She is declawed and never goes out the front door but now we were concerned she had gotten outside.  More family gathered.... we did a systematic sweep of the front and back yard.  Now someone remembered Ozzie the Wonder Dog had barked at something in the morning and chased it.  Could he have chased Granny Cat?  Was she hiding in the bushes near the front door and he ran her off?  

My head was whirling. Damn...she had no collar or micro chip.  Any time anyone attempted to put a collar on her she worked on it till she tore it off and we never chipped her.  It was getting late in the day....and we had no clue where she was.  We did another systematic search of the front and back yard.  Granny Cat was not a smart cat or a responsive one so yelling her name seemed futile...all we could hope to spot her in the leaves or under a bush.

At this late hour, there wasn't much we could do.  I started a plan in my head.  Tomorrow posters.....the next day a call to the Humane society/pound...another look in the morning around the house.

My hub  was looking sad by this time....he was the only human she had bonded to since my dad....and although she was old....we didn't want her to come to a lonely or painful end....starving to death outside....hypothermia.....or becoming dinner to a fox or coyote.

We opened the front door a hundred times and just looked outside. 


 Finally...I decided to make one more search of the house. I started in my daughter's room....and searched  all the rooms on the second floor.  I decided to check the attic again even though there's very little traffic in and out. I opened the door....looked...listened and called her name.  Nothing.  I decided to check the very back of the attic with all the boxes piled up and grabbed a lantern.  

There it was...a flash of red eye near a box...Granny Cat! How the hell did she get into the attic???....and now I remembered.... I had put a suitcase in the attic on Friday afternoon and a short time latter realized the door was a jar...but since this section of the house was Fancypants domain, I made sure Fancypants was  around and simply closed the door.

I flew out of the attic and called to my hub....come quick....she's here but I don't want to spook her.  I went back to the far depths of the attic and put the light on her again....she was terrified ...hunkered down on some boxes...she had obviously not moved as there were pee stains on the boxes.  

My hub joined me and started talking and cooing to her...but she didn't move.... we figured by now she hadn't eaten or drank anything for at least 36 he found a folding chair and sat down and started talking to her.  

I left the attic....hoping she would feel more comfortable.  Slowly...very slowly....she crept away from the boxes and came to my hub....meowing pathetically.  He made a quick grab for her and burst out of the attic with the cat in his hands.  He placed Granny Cat near her food and water and shut the door.  We just looked at each other.

We had gone into the attic a couple of times with our search party but we hadn't seen her and in her frightened state she wouldn't vocalize or answer us when we called to her.  She could have died right there in our house...I'm not even sure I would have rechecked the attic again because there was simply no reason to believe she could have gotten in there.

  My hub reminded me she was not smart....and not well socialized so turning to us was not her first option.  Not like our other cats....who see us as their come fetch them when they're not happy.

So Granny Cat is back.  She looks a little was a tough experience hiding among the boxes...on a cold night in the attic.  She's been dozing on her blanket in hub's study....sleeping deeply.

I came into the study to check on her today. I reached out my hand to pet her and was shocked when she stayed in place on the couch. I gave her some scratchies... cooed words of encouragement ...and petted her until I reached her human contact limit.  I tucked the blanket around her to keep her warm....and left....hub would be home soon and she would be happy to see him.

She is a small not-so-bright little animal who shares our home and our lives....she is not the greatest pet....but she is ours and we our hers....and sometimes that is just how the arrangement works.