Yesterday morning when I took out the trash, a small gray tabby came dashing desparately for the door, meowing frantically.
This is pretty normal when the weather is cold. Phurball will insist on going outside, then discover he can’t warm up even if he sits in the sun, and as soon as I open the door again he’s running for the house, meowing all the way to make sure I know he’s coming. So I’m accustomed to seeing a cold, frantic cat pelting across the driveway.
Except it wasn’t Phurball.
She realized I wasn’t hers about the same time I realized she wasn’t mine, came to a screeching halt, then stood there mewing. Phurball himself sauntered up to see what all the commotion was about, spotted her in front of the van (now hissing at him), and changed course with the “I’ll-take-care-of-this” stride of every old man who has ever yelled at those damn kids who keep walking across his lawn. I scooped him up and put him inside to forestall an argument, then sat down by the van and talked to our visitor until she approached and let me pet her.
She was a young cat, less than a year old from the look of her, and very upset and frightened. She would jump back if I moved too quickly, but purred thunderously while I stroked her. Clearly she was someone’s pet; my guess was she had gotten out of her house and then become lost and disoriented. I set out some food and water for her, which she immediately gobbled up. Her weight was good so I didn’t think she’d been lost for long, but she might have missed a meal or two.
I went out to run some errands, and when I got back she was still there, still meowing in distress. I petted her a little more and went inside.
Later I went to pick up my son from school, and when we got back she was there again, still meowing. At this point it looked like she really was unable to find her own way home, and with the temperature getting below freezing at night I didn’t want to leave her outside while we tried to find her people. I attempted to pick her up so I could bring her in, but this alarmed her and she struggled free. Ten minutes later, I was able to coax her to come into the house on her own.
She spent a while searching the house, calling, obviously looking for her people. Eventually she retreated to the mantel, where I put some small dishes with food and water for her and then left her alone to calm down a bit. She stayed up there all night.
This morning she was still there, though she was calm enough that she let both the boys pet her a little bit. Even my husband talked to her and gave her a reassuring scritch.
Phurball is not impressed. I let him out of the basement for a while this morning, while I was there to supervise events, and gave him some gooshy food and petting to make sure he knew he wasn’t being replaced. Oddly, he didn’t hiss or growl at the other cat. In fact, he made a point of not looking at her at all, although he cruised malignantly around the fireplace with his tail twitching.
Last night I put flyers up around the neighborhood with her picture on it, and filled in the “found pet” form on the local SPCA web site. Today I’ll put an ad in the paper. Hopefully we can find her people quickly; she really wants to go home.