Jack came to live with us as a result of the relocation of one of our children. There was no place for Jack with the new squeeze. It seemed that she was allergic to cats, which should have been enough evidence of unsuitability to have sounded a warning bell to begin with. She proved to be allergic to our son as well. Jack, as it turns out, was the only good thing to come out of the whole deal.
Jack grew to be a rather large specimen of tortoise shell American short haired kitty. There are two schools of thought about declawing house cats; those that would leave the kitties with their main means of protection and those that would hope to be able to use their furniture for a reasonable amount of time.
If you chose to leave your kitty with claws, you can provide a scratching post as an answer to a cat’s instinctive need to give itself a manicure. Early in my career as a cat-lover, I discovered the main function of a scratching post was to provide a jumping off point to reach otherwise difficult to get to pieces of furniture. I never caught my cat actually scratching on it.
The other school of thought requires the removal of the front claws and we have subscribed to this policy. Jack lost his guns along with alterations to his plumbing that would hopefully reduce the need for said guns. Jack became a house kitty.
Cats hate closed doors. Once a kitty learns that by scratching at a door, you will get up and open it for him, he has achieved the first level of your training. This along with “Keep my food and water bowl filled” are all parts of your basic training at a “cat captor.” It’s not so much that a cat wants to be on the other side of the door as it is that he wants the option to be there. In kitty heaven, all doors are left ajar and all drawers and cabinet have been left open.
Jack was normal in this regard. He would lurk quietly on the inside of a door and the moment you opened it he would dart between your feet and hit the great outside. In Jack’s case, he would race under the nearest shrub and hide as best he could.
No amount of pleading or calling would lure him a back into the house. Your only option was to close the door and wait. This would cause Jack a great deal of angst. On the one hand he was confronted by a closed door, which he hated, and on the other, he was loose in the world. This would usually be resolved by a need to snack and within the hour he would be scratching on the other side of the door to be let back in.
One evening, about two weeks ago, Jack pulled this little stunt and raced to the creek that runs alongside our property. He disappeared into the underbrush and would not respond to my pleadings. I left the garage door open and went in to wait him out. Night fell and there was no sign of Jack. We searched the neighborhood and still no Jack. The next morning I fully expected to see him curled up on top of my car, but still no Jack.
I continue to look for him every morning on my walk to get the paper, but I have come to accept the fact that Jack is not going to come home. Friends tell me about cats who have walked up to the door after being gone for months, even years, but I don’t believe that is going to happen. The worst case is that he fell victim to wild dogs or coyotes of which we have plenty. The best case is someone needed a kitty and adopted him. Either way, I really miss him and find myself looking down every street that I pass hoping to see him. Now that I’ve gotten started about my kitties, I’ll have to share Cletus’s story with you in a future edition.