Friday, November 18, 2005

A happy meow

One of our two cats went missing last week.

We have two cats right now. There were times we’ve had more, but two cats is probably all we can handle in this apartment right now anyway. We’ve been keeping them inside of course, so they can get acclimated to their new home. But last week, my wife thought they were ready to go outside.

We opened the front door, and they crept forward to look. Cautiously, hesitantly, they walked as if on tip-toes to peek out into the world. They made their way onto the porch, and then went down the 15 steps to the sidewalk. It took them about 20 minutes to do this, so you get the idea how carefully they were moving.

After a little while, I whistled a little tune I always whistle to call them, and they came running back.

Later, they went out again, but only one came back. My wife and I disagree as to how this happened—she says I told her the cats were both back in, while I say I only asked her if the cats were back before we locked up for the night. The result was the same in either event: Smudge was missing.

Yes, we called her Smudge. She’s a white and cream Siamese cat with beautiful blue eyes and a black tail. She also has a black mark across her face and nose that resembles a smear of dirt or paint. That's why we named her Smudge.

The next morning, a Sunday, we realized she was missing.

I went outside and began to whistle for her. I walked up and down the street looking. I began to circle the block, whistling and peering under cars and houses for any sign.

And I discovered that a lot of folks are out on Sunday morning in this neighborhood. A woman at the corner was sitting on her porch swing reading the paper. I didn’t have to tell her I what I doing. She immediately asked, “Did you lose a cat or a dog?”

As I was walking down the next street over, a man came out his front door to ask me. He heard me whistling, probably heard the sadness, too. "What does your cat look like? If I see her, where can I call you?”

A jovial middle-aged man was out for a bike ride. Even he stopped to ask me, “Hey mister, what’s your dog look like?” He looked almost exactly like James Earl Jones, wearing a t-shirt, suspenders and a friendly smile. He began to ride up and down the adjacent streets copying my whistle.

Two hours passed, and I gave up.

While I was out searching, my wife and daughter found a picture of Smudge on the computer and made a poster. That afternoon, my wife printed out several copies and began to walk around the neighborhood, handing out the poster and asking if anyone had seen Smudge.

Yes, one man told her, down the street there. My wife asked several more people, and another man pointed at a house. She whistled one more time, and Smudge appeared from under the house and greeted her with a happy meow.

In the end, not only did we find our cat, we also discovered that people care. We met several neighbors who showed genuine concern for us and our lost pet. They proved to us yet again that this city is full of good, caring people.

Safe in that knowledge, we all slept peacefully that night, especially Smudge.

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