The weekend after Christmas last year, I adopted a cat from a local shelter. His ‘given name’ at the shelter was Reese, but I called him Stripe. He is a huge 10-plus pound brown furball with black stripes (hence the name) and a few patches of white here and there. I remember when I first took him out of his ‘catbox’ he freaked and tried to escape through the fireplace, and took to hiding behind the clothes dryer for a week or two.
After that adjustment period, we got along fairly well. Stripe loved attention and would happily sit on my lap and sleep while I sat on the sofa playing games or watching movies, taking time out ever so often to pet him. If he wasn’t on my lap he was usually napping nearby (see picture). He had a tendency to beg for food and would even hop on the back of my chair as I sat at the dining room table and try to see what I was eating. I would usually cave in and toss him a piece of meat, which he would often bat around for a few minutes before eating. He would also lie down on the floor and mew until I petted him or rubbed his belly.
The only issue I had with him was that he wanted attention all the time and often at the most inopportune times, like when I was cooking or trying to do work on the computer. For all his pining for attention, though, he was shy around new people, going as far as to retreat to his familiar clothes dryer hiding spot whenever guests would visit. Most of my friends said he was an odd cat, and I was hardly one to disagree. He snubbed the scratching post and cat tunnel I bought for him, but would bat plastic bottle caps around the floor all day long.
As is often the case with pets, our relationship had its rocky parts. I quickly learned that the combination of me being a wiggler and him being just a little bit bitey made it a bad idea to have him sleeping in the bed. He eventually developed a habit of clawing the sofas which resulted in several squirts of water from a spray bottle, which he despised. Seriously, if I even reached for the bottle, he would dash away in a heartbeat. There were more good times than bad, though. I started letting him outside in the afternoons and he seemed to enjoy exploring the yard and going about the neighborhood. As there aren’t many stray dogs around, I felt safe in letting him go out, but never after dark. When he’d had his fun, he would sit outside the side door and mew until I let him back in.
I let him out last Tuesday. He never came back.
I’ve gone out walking around the neighborhood, but Stripe has been nowhere to be found. Every morning after I wake up and every evening when I got home from work, I check the side door, but he’s never there. It’s been almost a week, and I’m already missing the little things, like how he’d wait outside my bedroom door in the mornings or when he would stand up and paw on my thigh while I sat working on the computer.
Part of me wonders if maybe he just wanted more attention than I could give him. I’d like to think (hope, really) that he ran off to be with someone else who could give him more time than I could. I’ve already cleaned up and put away the litter box and cat toys and will soon be vacuuming up his cat fur for the last time. He may not have been the ideal cat, but I wasn’t the best owner, either. I’m don’t know that I’ll be getting another pet anytime soon. Despite the implications, I’d rather he have run off because I was a lousy owner than to have something bad happen to him.
Good luck, Reese, wherever you are.