For a while now Bixby’s been trying to tell us he no longer wants to be an indoor-only cat. He kept meowing in the middle of the night and staring longingly out the window. He peed and pooped on the rug in the bathroom. He did not seem very happy.
When we adopted him from a shelter – about two years ago – we signed a contract saying we will not let this cat outside. That’s how things were done in Seattle. But here… I started to wonder how binding that contract really was. So, when I took Bixby to see the vet, I asked her if she thought it would be okay to let him outside.
“Some cats are perfectly happy to be indoors, but others have a need, a longing, to go outdoors. If he’s peeing and pooping on the bathroom rug, it’s only a matter of time before he starts to shred furniture,” she said and I thought “oh-oh. We just bought a really nice couch from Bolia.”
I decided that as soon as we got home, I would open the patio door and let him go exploring.
Well, we didn’t make it that far. On the way back from the vet he slipped out of his harness (I know, never rely on a harness for a cat) and took off!
I’m still reliving that moment when he disappeared. He was on his cat leash and was having a good time walking – or so I assumed – and then a jogger came by. I don’t even know if it was a man or a woman, but as soon as the person ran past us, Bixby freaked out, slipped out of the harness he was in and took off down the street. I ran after his furry fat butt, yelling: “shit, shit, shit!” (this is not his name, of course, but could’ve been mistaken for one if anyone heard me). He dived into a thick border shrub and disappeared into someone’s back yard.
I called out to him. I waited. I finally called Dave and told him I lost the cat. Dave took a taxi from work and came right over.
I have to say… Dave’s been such a trooper in this search for Bixby. I’m not as bonded with the cat as he is. I love the little fur ball, of course, but I think I’m more of a dog person. I just don’t think he loves me back. When I called out to him: “Bixby! Bixby!,” he just ignored me. If one of my dogs ran off and I called out to them, they’d be running back in no time at all, and would be apologizing the whole way home!
Dave called out to him and when Bixby did not show up, he went to knock on the door of the person who owned the yard with the thick border shrubs. Suzanne, the owner, let us in and even lent us a broom to try to get him out of hiding. But, her yard was filled with so many shrubs and other wonderful places for a cat to hide! The yard was beautiful, btw. A real sanctuary. Overgrown, but tidy at the same time.
Anyways, we spent close to two hours looking for him, but no sign of Bixby. When we got home I got in touch with the vet and they immediately posted a missing cat notice on their board and posted a missing cat alert on Facebook. Missing Bixby got lots of shares and it seemed like the entire neighborhood was determined to go out and look for him!
Dave went back the next day and the day after and the day after. In fact, he went looking for Bixby every single evening, while I remained steadfast in my theory that if he really loves us, he’ll find his way home.
We posted a bunch of flyers around the neighborhood.
And then… After many nights of coming back to look for him, Dave heard a MEOW!
Now, Bixby can meow. Other cats meow, but when Bixby meows, he meows and meows and meows. It seems like he’s trying to talk (which is really cute, I think, but other people get easily annoyed when he won’t shut up). So Dave knew right away that this is our cat! Our cat Bixby!
That night Dave stayed there for three hours, waiting for him. Bixby did not show.
The next day, someone called saying they hear a cat meowing and that it might be the cat we’re looking for. Dave hopped on his bike right away and came back empty handed.
The dogs started to miss him.
Then, one night, Dave actually saw him. Bixby came out of the bushes, ate some food left out for him, and disappeared again. Another night and the same thing happened. This time Dave almost caught him!
At this point, we decided that Bixby was behaving like a rebellious teenager. He wanted his freedom, but wanted us to feed him too. Well, mister, you can’t have it both ways!
We thought that since he was surviving on only mice, birds (and apparently, tuna fish – provided by one of the neighbors) out there, he’d be eager to get back home, but no… Bixby was playing hard to get.
But Dave wouldn’t give in. He wanted Bixby back home and he went to great lengths to get him back! He did some online research and decided he needed a cat trap.
Kattens Væran provided us with one. A very humane looking one, it was placed in the yard of the family that was feeding Bixby tuna fish. In less than a couple of hours after setting it out, we got a call from the family saying that the cat has been trapped.
Bixby arrived back home in style, on the Christiania bike.
When he arrived, he wasn’t even meowing. He just sat there, all cool and collected, like: “hey guys! Missed me?” It’s like he was coming back from summer camp, instead of being a homeless domestic animal for over a week.
He may have lost a pound, but actually seemed to have been well fed while away.
For someone so resistant to coming back, he was glad to be home.
And while this little stinker – after an entire week and a whole day – is back home, safe and sound, there are other missing cats in the neighborhood. I hope that they too find their way home.
I also have to say a huge THANK YOU to all the people who took interest in him and participated and called us and helped us bring him home. Good people, and a caring vet, in our neighborhood.