Not deferential enough: A family member missing

Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: A family member missing

by Gina Hamilton

It's not like a missing child, of course, or a missing husband, but in the last week, we've been worried sick over one of our sweet moggies, Punky, who had gone missing just before I got home from the Cape.

At first, I didn't worry ... Punky is a rescue kitty who had been abandoned on the streets after his previous person had declawed him.  Even so, he's brilliant at defending himself and can even bat birds out of the sky with a strong left paw.  I knew he could feed himself, even if he hadn't been able to convince someone else to do it.

Before he joined our household, we'd been feeding him for a while on the doorstep, but Chris didn't want a second cat. 

"No, we're not bringing that cat in," he said.  "Don't let him come inside."

I considered hiding him down in the basement, but that would have meant going down to feed him every day over ice, and I knew I would have fractured a hip or something.  Chris put one of his rare feet down, and so I just continued feeding the homeless kitty on the doorstep.

Then, on a very cold December morning, when it was so cold your eyelids tried to shut on their own, Chris called me from work and told me gruffly, "You'd better bring that cat in.  It'll freeze out there."

"If you insist," I said meekly.  And Punky came in to live in a warm home.  He's been here for nine years.

Our other cat was not best pleased, but eventually, Mr. Fierce got used to him.  Punky could never get the streets out of his blood, though, and a couple of times every year, he'd go missing for days.  He'd turn up, not particularly hungry, completely oblivious to the concern he'd cause us, several days later, when he was good and ready.

But this time, he was gone for longer than anyone could remember him being missing. 

On Friday, I made posters and put them up in his stomping ground, along Front Street and down Pearl Street.  I cried a little when someone asked me about one of them. 

There are all kinds of things that can befall a little cat in the big world ... coyotes, fishers, other cats, big dogs.  He could have snagged a collar on something and hanged himself.  He could have fallen into a hole, or into the river.  By Sunday morning, I was absolutely sure he was gone for good.

And then he walked in the back door, demanded to be fed, and condescended to let me snuggle with him for a while.

His tag was missing, and will have to be replaced, but he was otherwise healthy and hearty.

Don't bother suggesting I keep him indoors.  I knew when we adopted him there was no hope of making Punky an indoor cat; he has the wind in his fur and the horizon in his eyes.  It would make him miserable to keep him inside, and it wouldn't be fair to a scrappy street kitty who spent part of his adult life fending for himself.

So fall will come again, and I will worry when he vanishes again.  And maybe one day he won't come home.  But he's home now.

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