Wow, it’s been quite a week, and then some, of pet problems.
First, our old dog Tessa started going downhill really fast last week. She stopped drinking and eating and became so weak she could barely walk. She’s been exhibiting signs of doggy dementia for many months now; aimlessly wandering around the house, having a tough time getting up the back steps when she was outside, and a general state of confusion most of the time, so we initially thought it was a natural progression of old age. But we think that a topical application of flea medication we gave her may have been a little too much for her. It wasn’t until about five days after applying the medication that she suddenly stopped eating, so at first I didn’t even connect that as the catalyst. But by last Friday she seemed to be at death’s door. She hadn’t eaten in four days and was just laying on her bed breathing roughly and staring off into space. Our vet came over and gave her an injection of steroids, and by the next morning she started drinking again, and soon after was eating and able to walk around more and more.
She’s still confused and a bit wobbly, but looking a lot better. Though now we have incontinence to deal with, and getting up in the middle of the night to take her outside. It seems like we’ll never get a good night’s sleep!
Then after that crisis had somewhat abated, yesterday morning we came downstairs and realised our cat Merlin was not around. When he didn’t come running when I fed our other cat Vivian, I got worried! After a thorough search, it seemed Merlin was not in the house. Which meant he must have sneaked out the back down when we were carrying Tessa outside, either the night before or early that morning. That darn Merlin is famous for hanging out near the door when we come and go, but he usually just stares longingly outside. Of all the times to pick for a great escape, he had to pick a cold, rainy day!
Merlin is definitely an indoor kind of cat. He’s a little chubby, and mostly enjoys lounging around on top of the clothes dryer or rolling on the living room floor, innocently enticing you to rub his belly so he can try to take a bite of your hand. Though he’s also strangely endearing as well. He loves our dogs Tessa and Max, hanging out with them and affectionately rubbing his head against them. Sometimes I think he thinks of himself as more dog than feline. And he loves our kids (right now he’s sitting on the floor a few inches from Arthur, watching him drawing a picture). Merlin also has a stuffed animal friend who once belonged to Arthur when he was little, a special friend named Stanley who is also a black and white cat very similar to Merlin, whom he carries everywhere around the house and can often be found humping when no one is looking (usually). But I digress.
So the kids and I searched the back yard and up and down the street on either side of the house with no luck. I called the Village office in case anyone found him, and I later made up a Missing Cat flyer and we put some up at the Post Office, the Library and the deli. It was a sad morning for everyone, and I became very depressed thinking about our flabby, de-clawed home-boy out in the cold, cruel world for the first time in his life. His prospects did not seem good.
Later in the day I talked to several of our neighbors, who are incredibly wonderful, and though no one had seen him I got a lead about a woman who lives around the corner and up the street who I knew a little, but did not realise was known around the neighborhood as “the cat lady.” Apparently she is known for taking in stray cats and helping them find their owners. So I talked to her and got some words of encouragement, and great advice about putting out a box on the front porch with a blanket or something else he likes plus some cat food. She said if a cat is lost outside they would naturally hide during the day, but would more likely come out at night and may find his way back home. Maybe he was close by and we’d never know it. Something I didn’t think about before but sure made sense!
So last night we put a wooden crate Merlin likes with his dryer bed in it on the porch, with food, and on the back patio I put another bed with food and stuffed Stanley. And as the night progressed and the temperature dipped we kept checking. And hoping. And Stephanie cried a little.
A while later there was a knock at the door, and Lynn The Cat Lady was there. She had been driving by and said she saw a dark cat hop off our porch! I thought it could be our neighbor’s black and white cat, Happy, but I grabbed a flashlight and searched around. No Merlin!
At 10:45 I was getting sleepy and checked the back patio and the box on the front porch once more. And saw nothing. I was starting to wonder how long I could stay awake to keep checking, and I was getting sad again. A few minutes later Stephanie came downstairs and went to the front door. And suddenly I heard her talking, in a quiet talking-to-an-animal kind of voice which rose with excitement. I went to the door. And there, looking rather fit and unflustered, was our Merlin! We gave him food and water, which he didn’t seem terribly interested in, but was quite happy for the petting, and he sauntered into the living room like nothing had ever happened. I can’t imagine him actually catching a mouse, but someone must have fed him something! He seems rather content with himself.
So I guess we’ve been lucky, despite all the angst, that we still have four pets this week instead of just two. And I’ve learned not to underestimate a lazy cat! Part of me is glad Merlin finally got to have his Great Adventure after all these years of staring out the back door. But for now on we’re keeping a very close eye on that door!