Late at night a few Saturdays ago I let my three cats get some air out on the balcony. Then I heard the noise: the familiar sound of my cat jumping onto the railing. He'd practiced it many times before, and I'd ordered him down and into the house, not allowed out for a day or so. But this time was different. Boo Boo fell or jumped off the second-floor balcony railing and was nowhere in sight...in the dark. I got dressed and with flashlight and Temptations cat treats in hand, began my first of many nightly searches.
It's been just over three weeks...three weeks of near sightings, telephone calls from people thinking they'd seen him and my own late night prowling and yowling "Boo Boo" through dark streets and creeping behind buildings. I have chased all manner of outdoor cats to their terraces, meeting confused owners face to face. I can attest to the truth behind the Temptations TV commercial, a string of cats following me as I walked shaking the treat bag, calling "Boo Boo" at the dark witching hour when all cats come out--all except mine.
Ironically, I found myself at the neighboring building checking into the sighting of a female cat the same charcoal color as my own...and bearing the same name. Her owner is a little flapped and unnerved. I seem like a cat stalker!
Put in perspective by someone at a backyard BBQ I recently attended: "Face it: he wanted his freedom. He'd probably been planning his escape for some time!" Is that why he kept jumping up on the railing despite my admonishments? Certainly life must have been boring as an indoor cat, with nothing to do but groom his shiny fur all day. Oh, how good he had it: meals, clean litter, affection! Why would he give that up for the unknown of dodging cars and people and micing for his meals? It's summertime now, but what about when the cold weather comes? What price might he pay for his freedom then? Or maybe he's sitting pretty with a new owner--one who lets him out so he can have the best of both worlds.
I am reminded that we are all exactly where we are supposed to be. Boo Boo is in his place in the world now. We had a good three years together. He has gone back from where he came as I remember him coming out of the hedge three years ago, a mere 4-month old kitten. Back into the wild now--neutered at least--one less cat to propagate the feline species! Yet I still cling to the thought that one day, he'll show up in the parking lot as if he'd merely gone on vacation. Miss you, Boo Boo!
Have you ever had to accept a loss of anything, the loss of a pet or someone, something that you wanted back and realized that the Universe had other plans?