The search for our runaway feline

Published 1:56 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023

A few days ago, Paul and I took shifts in front of our glassed storm door during the wee hours, awaiting the return of our young cat, Georgie.
His getting out was my fault: I had purposely let Georgie and Bernie out on the upstairs deck, as I often do, so they could enjoy the autumn sun and chase a few of the leaves scattered across its floor.
But when I returned an hour later, Bernie was calmly waiting and Georgie was…gone.
Gone—how was this possible? My heart raced with panic. Surely he wouldn’t leap from such a height? Did he manage to climb upon the roof of the house?
I ran downstairs and jogged the perimeter of our steeply pitched A-frame and found nothing—no sign. Real fear began to set in—had he been picked up by a hawk or owl? Wracked with guilt I began to walk the property, calling his name, and trekked deep into the 300 acres of woods directly behind us. No sign. He wasn’t in the barn, tractor sheds or tool shed, either.
As night fell I was inconsolable. This was my fault. Something must have terrified him and he somehow leapt down to get away. Coyotes and foxes reside in the woods—could he survive?
Georgie is a wily fellow but no match against a canine.
I opened a can of the stinkiest, fishy cat food we had and left it directly outside the front door. One thing we know for sure about Georgie, also known in our household as ‘Gorgie:’ he is food-obsessed. Surely this food would lure him (and hopefully not a coyote).
At 2 a.m., I finally heard his plaintive cries on the front porch. I leaped up in such an abrupt rush that the dogs, completely unprepared, were sent airborne.
Having left the porch light on, I could see Georgie’s head clearly peering through the door. Our other cats peered back as if to say, “Hey, what’s it like out there? Did you go to a Starbucks?”
Quietly, carefully, speaking in low tones, I padded to the door and opened it slowly…And the dang cat looked at me in terror and bolted.
The same scenario played out again at 3:30 a.m.
“How can he have gone feral in less than 24 hours?” I wailed to Paul later that morning. “How?”
Believing he might be victorious, Paul decided to wait up for Georgie the following night. Really hungry now, the cat showed up at 8:30 to eat the food left out, and then looked at Paul as if he were holding a chainsaw when he cracked open the door before fleeing into the dark.
The following night I was determined to catch him. I dressed in dark clothing as if about to rob a bank and curled my 6’1” body into a pretzel so that I wouldn’t be seen by Georgie as he made his way back. But this time, we had set up a ‘Hav-a-hart’ trap baited with another can of cat food and draped a towel over it to make it appetizingly cozy.
I raised my head just enough from the back of the chair—he saw me and his eyes dilated in fear. I popped my head back down and waited. For a full 45 minutes, I waited while Georgie paced the porch, mewing and circumnavigating the trap, refusing to go inside.
Unable to feel my legs and suffering a distinct cramp, I raised my head again to see him finally—thank you, God—sniff the opening of the trap before tentatively stepping inside. The door snapped shut and the howls of protest from Georgie could have awakened the dead.
I yelled for Paul, and we carried the trap inside to release him in the bathroom away from the other animals so he could get his bearings.
“He’s going to be freaked out,” I warned. “Careful how you let him out so you don’t get scratched. He’ll probably run under a bed and hide.”
Paul carefully opened the trap door. Mr Wild and Feral stepped out of the cage, stretched luxuriously, then sauntered up the hall and flopped on his side in front of the pantry door, inserting one paw beneath it, requesting kibble.
Why, I oughta….

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