As many of you know, Matt and I adopted a kitten when we were living in Spain. His name is General McFluffybutt and he has been the topic of many blog posts. He’s quite the traveler, making his way with me across the Atlantic Ocean to our new home in America. He’s adapted so well and travels amazingly.
While in Spain, he spent many days outdoors. Since he started his life as a street cat, I decided it was only fair to let him venture out and explore. The forlorn looks he would give me as he sat at our large windows was enough to make me cave. At first, his visits were supervised, and then over time, I knew I could trust him to stay close to the house and he always came back at the end of the day, ready for dinner.
Just this past weekend, Dallas experienced an ice storm that many have dubbed “Icemageddon.” Rain accompanied freezing temperatures, turning the trees and streets into a not-so winter wonderland. Something like 260,000 homes lost power due to falling trees taking down the power lines. My parents were without power for three whole days.
Our plight had nothing to do with the loss of power, however. On the morning that Icemageddon was set to roll in, the General slipped out the door, was promptly spooked by gardeners when they started their leaf blowers, and took off. Matt searched all day for him, thinking he’d come home, to no avail. When I returned from work, our little man was still nowhere to be seen, and as the weather started to take a turn for the worse, I started to panic. While everyone assured me that cats are smart and that his fur would keep him warm, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to less desirable scenarios.
That first evening, I slept down in the den by the sliding doors leading to the back porch. If he wandered back and meowed, I was going to be down there to hear it. Alas, morning came without power and without kitty. Day two of the ice storm was stressful, because without power, we were unable to make “lost kitten” fliers. I felt like everything was working against me.
It was also difficult to go out looking for him – we slipped and slid our way around the neighborhood checking every nook and cranny we could find. When we eventually got our power back (we were one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to wait too long), we printed small fliers and went door to door chatting with the neighbors. Late in the afternoon, Matt’s brother and his wife came over to help with the search, but as darkness descended on us, we were forced to come back in and hope he’d find his way home alone.
I’ll tell you, we went for every trick in the book to help our little bugger find his way back. I put his litter box on the porch, we put little salmon pods out around the yard…I even put out a single candle on the deck after reading that the glowing light helps bring curious cats home. Matt and I stayed up quite late that second night, because the General sleeps all day and is quite nocturnal. If he was going to make his way back, it was going to be in the dead of night.
As Matt helped me prepare my bed on the couch in the den for another night downstairs, I asked if he would whistle one more time. It was after that “one last time” that he heard what we’d been waiting to hear for two days – little meows from the porch steps. The General was home! Matt immediately called out, “Em, he’s home” and I popped up from my makeshift bed to see the little fluffybutt looking at us with his big eyes.
I cannot put into words the feeling of relief I felt when I saw him; I immediately burst into tears and the minute he was in the door, I had him up in my arms. I could swear he walked around the house smugly that night and since he’s been back, he’s picked up a few new habits, almost like his adventure made him more courageous.
Even though it was exhausting and emotional, this doesn’t mean that he will never be allowed to go out again. He is born to explore and after this experience, I feel more prepared for that inevitable time when he doesn’t come home as promptly as we’d like. We will, however, wait for the cold front to move out and I’ll be supervising his first trips outdoors come spring!