Sidenote: I write this from Dallas! Things are heating up down here as FinCon finally approaches. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and learning lots of things. Responses to emails, tweets, and comments will probably be delayed. There will be a new post next Monday, though. Stay tuned!
The scene: Me, coming home on a Sunday afternoon after spending the weekend at my parent’s house.
I put my key in the door. I think to myself, “that’s weird, Bartholomew isn’t meowing up a storm on the other side of the door like normal.” I enter my unit to find.…. no cat. No cat ANYWHERE. The panic takes a bit to set in, but when it does it hits me like a tidal wave (embarrassingly enough in front of the neighbors). I search the 450 sq ft unit and leave no nook or cranny unturned. The cat is gone.
The neighbors saw something weird over the weekend. Someone with a flashlight poking around the property. But they didn’t call the police because it could’ve been me. They said it was the contractor I fired. A different neighbor saw the former tenant and his car at the house that weekend too. Two viable suspects, with very plausible reasons to take my cat. Both know me well enough taking the cat and leaving the valuables lying around (iPad, TV, PS3, computer, 3DS…) is the best way to hurt me. The police are puzzled. They take my name and a few photos and leave.
I’m devastated. Crushed. Empty. My life is nothing without the cat.
I take the next day off work and start looking for him. The shelter hasn’t seen anything but my Facebook post has them on the lookout. They tell me cats like him don’t come through the shelter.
The week passes agonizingly slowly. I cry at work on Tuesday because my morning routine was cat-less. No kitty watching me brush my teeth, waiting for me to finish showering, or winding between my legs in hopes of some more food before I leave. Everyone at work is sympathetic.
Who am I without this cat?
Friday rolls around. I’ve gotten a live trap from a friend and set it on the porch. I go to put food in the cage and.…. SCARE THE CAT AWAY! The cat is alive! He’s not catnapped! He looks in decent health for being on the run for a week!
I set an alarm for 2 am. It rolls around and I ghost to the bathroom window to see if I’ve caught anything. The trap is still open. Drats. But wait? What’s that in the corner of the window on the stairs? It’s Mew!
He noses around the porch a bit, uses the kitty litter, and stares at the window I’m breathlessly waiting behind. Of course, he’s my cat so he doesn’t go in the trap. Turns out he was eating the neighbors’ dry food and wasn’t hungry. At least I know he’s alive and not being tortured by someone with a grudge against me.
Saturday the security cameras I purchased arrived and my friend helps me set it up. The picture is sharp, I can see the porch through the app, and I set up motion detection so I get an email and an alert every time something moves.
My mom drives up Sunday night and stays up, watching the feed on the TV. Besides watching a spider build a web in front of the camera, there is nothing. I’m torn. I’m supposed to leave for a work trip Monday morning. Mom decides to stay in my place through Wednesday morning to see if she can catch him. No dice. The trap goes to the neighbor across the street while I try to enjoy my business trip to DC.
I fly home Friday. I’m supposed to travel to Minnesota for the weekend, but my boyfriend told me he was sick so I should stay home and look for the cat. I confer with the neighbors who tell me they saw him once or twice but couldn’t get him. They’ve nicknamed him White Lightning because he’s so fast. They did catch and piss off a few raccoons though.
I take a walk through the alley and speak to a few new people. No one’s seen him but they’ll be on the lookout. I go back to the house and check my phone to find a message on Facebook from a neighbor further down the alley. Mew is across the street and I should get there RIGHT NOW! I race down the street to find him in a garden hiding behind some old corn husks. I try to get him to come to me but he runs. I follow him for a bit before I lose him and head back to her house. Mew had the same idea because I spotted him behind a few trash cans across the street.
I managed to slooowwwwlllyyyy cajole him across the street with a can of wet food and a bottle of cat treats. Once he settled in to eat, I pounced. I expected to close in around his spine, but he’d lost so much weight and moved so fast I ended up with his tail. I dragged him growling and spitting to me while telling the neighbor to GET THE CAGE! A few seconds of struggling lead to a lot of fur flying around and the cat in the cage.
HE WAS MINE ONCE AGAIN! No more wild kitty roaming around. A solid meal and a bath led to a kitty that was happy, warm, and purring in my bathroom. I still had to deal with some residual fleas, but things rapidly returned to normal, a normal that I feel grateful to this day I get to have.
I am a Cat Lady.… or am I?
While Mr. Mew was out having fun and gallivanting about the neighborhood, I was having an existential crisis. I am a cat lady. I am owned by Mew. I even mention him when people in the blog world ask me for a blurb.
I love my cat with all my heart. What was I going to do if I couldn’t get him back? Would I have a Mew-shaped hole in my heart forever? Would I get another kitty? What would I introduce myself as in the future?
Fortunately, I ended up not having to come with answers to those difficult questions when I got him back.
I am “Job Title”.….. or am I?
It’s a rule of life that people will ask you, “So, what do you do for work?”. I answer with my job and a brief description and watch their eyes light up. I have a cool job with a company that’s renowned around the world. I get a lot of satisfaction from those kinds of interactions. Losing Bartholomew made me think: How will I react to losing my work identity?
Will I be ok with saying “I’m an artist/entrepreneur/real estate guru”?
Will I be ok with not having a “cool job”?
Will I be ok walking away from work-related accolades?
I’m not sure how I’ll react, to be honest. I fortunately have a lot of time to think this over and prepare. Losing Mew gave me a glimpse into how it feels to have a main portion of my identity changed, so I’ll have to do some serious thinking and prepping for the day I hand in my notice at work.
Have you lost a pet? Did you get them back? If you’ve left a job, how did you react? Any tips for me when I get there?
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