If given the choice of a superpower, I've always said my superpower would be the ability to find anything. Think about it. Can't find your keys? Never again. Where are those darn sunglasses you just had in your hands? You'd know! Mom loses the diamond on her in wedding ring? You've got it covered. And in my line of work, one that involves a lot of needle-in-the-haystack-searching, I'd be a valuable commodity. This morning, when Mike and I couldn't find our cat, Leroy, it would have been especially handy.
The cats are all over me every morning from the moment I wake up. They love their wet food, and they love to let me know how much they love their cat food. All three follow me meowing incessantly until I pop open a can and let them wolf it down. This morning, Leroy was suspiciously absent from the food parade. I walked around the house shaking a can of treats and nothing. No sign of Leroy. I told Mike I couldn't find Leroy, and we spent the next hour looking under things, behind things, in things, around things, above things...and then we looked in all those places again.
Leroy is a hard cat to miss. He's loud. Real loud. As a friend of mine who recently came to stay with us said, Leroy always gets the last word. And he does. Unfortunately his words all sound as if they're coming from an 88-year-old emphysema patient. He doesn't exactly have a sweet little voice. He also loves attention. My nickname for Leroy is ODB - or old dirty bastard. He's a lover and an even bigger lover of boobs. I cannot count the number of times Leroy has sauntered up to me on the couch and head butted my boob - repeatedly. His place in our home is well established, and I cannot imagine our home without a Leroy.
Mike and I absolutely couldn't miss the next train downtown, so we left home not knowing where the third member of our cat tribe could be. We looked up and down the alley as we walked to the train, but still no Leroy. We figured he must be in a super sweet hiding spot. No amount of our looking would help. We reasoned that by the time we came home he'd be out and about and all would be well.
Our walk home from the train tonight was a long one. Neither Mike or I said anything. We scanned the alley hoping for any sign of our cat. We ascended our back stairs, and Mike then put his key in the door. I crossed my fingers hoping that would make Leroy magically appear on the other side of our door. It didn't work. No Leroy.
We took to the streets, searching the areas immediately around our condo building. We called his name as we looked under cars and in gang and alleyways. Not a single sign. We returned home again, and I couldn't believe there still was no Leroy. I wanted nothing more than to find him, mainly because when I lost Oscar just mere months after getting him, Mike was the one who helped me find my cat. (Funny note - Mike is the "friend" in that post, but if you read between the lines "friend" meant secret boyfriend.)
Mike got on the phone with some local animal shelters. A few minutes later, he came back into the kitchen, with flashlight in hand, and decided to head out for a third time. I used my nervous energy to whip up dinner. As I marinated some chicken I began mentally designing Leroy's "Lost Cat" poster.
He was in our home the previous night. When I went to bed he was there. When I woke up, he wasn't. It was as if he disappeared into thin air. Leroy is an older cat, about 14 years young to be exact. I would understand if we came home or woke up to find he had passed away. But to just have him disappear felt wrong. There was no closure. There wasn't a good bye. He didn't get to nuzzle my boob one last time. If he didn't turn up, I knew I'd spend the next year continually looking for him out of the corner of my eye.
I heard Mike's footsteps up our back stairs, and I prepared to be heartbroken all over again. When Mike opened the back door, Leroy was clinging to his chest - just as he did the day Leroy first came home with Mike. Leroy was back. Our little family was complete. The loud, needy, crazy, unpredictable cat of the bunch was home. I grabbed Leroy from Mike and he clung to me, rubbing his head under my chin and holding on with all his might. He was definitely hungry and a little dirty, but I was just so happy to have him back.
Mike found Leroy one building over, hiding at the bottom of a stairwell. Just as Mike had told me when I lost Oscar, cats don't go far, and thankfully Leroy didn't. When piecing together the puzzle of Leroy's departure, Mike now thinks Leroy must have snuck past him the previous night when he went out for a smoke. Leroy scurried down the stairs and more than 18 hours later, Mike found him a building over.
Leroy was definitely happy to be home. He smelled his water. He used the litter box. When I placed some wet food on the floor, he wolfed it down as I'm sure he would have earlier that morning. And as his thanks to us, moments later he puked on our rug. Things indeed are definitely back to normal.