Damn that box of cat litter.
Last Tuesday, December 11 is one of the worst days of my life. All because of a box of cat litter that spilled in the back of the Dear Husband's car.
The DH had run errands, including getting the cat litter. When he got home, he found the litter had spilled all over the trunk of his new car. So he pulled the car into the driveway, went into the garage, got the ShopVac, and vacuumed out the car. As he finished up, our cat LouC was in the backyard, meowing and wanting to be fed. The DH absent-mindedly patted him on the head as he walked by him to the driveway to put his car back in front of the house. In the process of doing so, the backyard gate didn't get closed all the way.
That's when LouC vanished.
The DH didn't notice for about fifteen minutes, then he searched the usual spots: the front yard and the neighbors' yards. No panic at first, because come on, we're talking about an eighteen-year-old cat that has never run away before. Besides, he has a name tag on him, so if someone else found him, they'd just call us and tell us to get our cat.
But LouC wasn't to be found. I got an annoyed text message from the DH saying that LouC wandered off. We both figured he'd saunter back when he got hungry enough.
We figured wrong.
He couldn't have gone far. He's never been away from home before like this. We thought he wouldn't have gone beyond the block we live on.
We thought wrong.
I made a flier Tuesday night and we ended up printing about 500 copies to put on everyone's doorstep in the area. On Wednesday night, we canvassed the neighborhood in the cold drizzle, calling his name and leaving more fliers in a wider circle of panic and distress. On Thursday we got a couple of calls from a couple of neighbors on the next block. LouC was spotted in a yard Tuesday night, but wouldn't come to them when they called to him. He melted into the bushes. That's the last time anyone has seen him.
Fliers have been put up in local pet stores and vet offices. A craigslist ad went up. Trips to the local animal shelter happened. Posts on Facebook were made. The weather got more cold and wet, and the house was also colder and more empty than it ever was. My heart was heavy, my brain racing with thoughts of where could LouC be at that moment?
The week before LouC left, the neighborhood was fliered with a warning: there may be someone killing neighborhood cats, so keep yer kitties inside. After our fliers went out, the lady who made the warning flier talked to the DH and told him about cats disappearing, some turning up dead, some never to be found dead or alive. So obviously, all I can imagine is that LouC was grabbed up, tortured, and killed. I cry every time I think about that. I'm crying now as I type this paragraph.
That possible fate is what convinces me that I failed LouC.
Was he mad at us? Was he curious about the world and just took a chance to explore? Is he cold? Is he scared? Is he hungry and thirsty? Did a cat lady find him and is keeping him because she assumes his owners were negligent? Did he do what old animals sometimes do and wandered off to die? My mind races with the possible fate of LouC, most of those fates are horrible, and I hate that I can think of inhuman things that a person can do to a cat.
Not knowing is the worst.
The first night LouC was gone, I had a difficult time getting to sleep. But at some point after I drifted off, I woke up, practically shivering with cold. There was a voice that wasn't mine in my mind at that moment...so cold. So, SO cold...
Then it faded away, as did the cold feeling.
Not knowing is the fucking worst.
I was supposed to take care of him his whole life. HIS WHOLE LIFE. I can't while he's gone, and it's gutting me.
On Thursday the DH insisted on returning the box of cat litter that started this heart-rending chain of events. It's cursed! he said. I didn't argue.
Hearing stories about other people's lost cats are as varied as the cats themselves, and I don't know if LouC will be showing up a week, two weeks, three weeks from now, skinny and annoyed, but alive. I hope he's one of the lucky ones that do. He's my guy, my handsome fellow.
Until then, I hope. And cry. I cry an awful lot.