M. Giant's
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Monday, March 28, 2005  

The Escape Artist

In nearly fourteen years of living with us, Strat has surreptitiously gotten out of the house or apartment X times, where X is an indeterminate three-digit number. X times, he has been safely inside the house again within 12 hours. I can even count the number of times he's been gone for more than a few hours without taking off my shoes or dropping my pants.

There was an overnight or two, when we went outside to renew the search at the crack of dawn and he was out on the front step going, "Jeez, I'm hungry already, you fucking people," which didn't prevent him from trying to escape again when we opened to door to leave for work twenty minutes later.

There was the time we went out in the early evening, only to return in the wee hours to a house that was one cat short, and I went out in the back yard with a flashlight calling, and I could hear him answering, but couldn’t locate him in the dark, even as his meowing got more strident, and I zeroed in on the noise in shrinking concentric circles until I was right on top of it, and realized he was right on top of me, as in perched up in the tree next to our garage, and rescue or no I defy you to bust out an extension ladder while wearing all black at two in the morning without suspecting yourself of being up to no good.

Replacing the storm door reduced these incidents sharply. The new door latched with a satisfying click when you let it swing free, and Strat didn't escape again for a good long time. Which was nice, because later that year he was diagnosed with diabetes, and the idea of his hiding under some bush somewhere three blocks away when it comes time to give him his insulin shot isn't one we care to entertain too much.

Now I think I need to adjust the tension on our automatic door closer, because these incidents are starting up again, especially now that the weather is getting warmer. A couple of weeks ago he didn't come to breakfast. I headed out to the garage—which hasn't been touched inside since we converted it into a haven for the missing Phantom—and there he was, lounging on the sofa that I haven't bothered to drag out to the curb yet. He lifted his head to look at me. "Oh, breakfast?" that look said.

Last night, Bitter was saying goodbye to us and to M. Tiny, who was a little out of sorts this weekend thanks to certain diaper-related occurrences that may or may not have had to do with the recent introduction of fruit into his diet. Trash had him sitting calmly and happily on the kitchen table, and just as Bitter was about to head out the door, he was suddenly overtaken by an unprovoked wave of crippling, atavistic grief. His face crumpled and he sent forth a heartbreaking wail of existential angst. Bitter let herself out while we tried to convince M. Tiny that the very world isn't the hopeless black hole of despair he clearly thought it was (at least not yet). Forty-five minutes later, long after he was calmed down and trying out a few sleepy-faces, Trash noticed that the front door was ajar, because Bitter doesn't have a key and Strat can pry the door open if it isn't locked. Furthermore, the storm door had failed to latch with a satisfying click.

Phantom and Turtle enjoyed the Strat-attracting tuna we put out just to make sure the cat wasn't hiding in the house, while Trash took M. Tiny and I headed outside with a flashlight. First stop: garage. Sofa: there. Cat: not.

So as I wandered the neighboring streets for the next hour or so, I thought of how big the number X is. I thought of that couch in the garage, which he'd found even though he didn't know it was there the last time, and now that he did, he'd certainly find it again. I thought of all the times I'd been through every block a couple of times, and then saw him trotting towards me down the street while I was standing in my own front yard. And I thought of another number, Y, which is the number of times Strat has returned or been found. Normally, Y=X, but during these nerve-wracking periods when Y=X-1, one always wonders how long that period is going to end up being.

Basically I was just biding my time until he either showed up on the front step to eat the tuna I'd put there, or came back to the garage to find him camped out in there. I don't know how many times I looked on that couch, but after one time, yet another incidence of finding him not there, I turned around to renew the search and saw him trotting happily towards me up the driveway.

Of course you can't be mad at him when that happens, and not just because he seems at least as happy to see you as you are to see him. I dropped into a crouch and he ran up to me, practically crying to be picked up and brought inside. Which I naturally did. And gave him the tuna on the front step that he'd blown right by to get to me.

This is why having Strat escape is preferable to having Phantom escape. Because if you spot Strat, he'll let you catch him. And if you don't, he'll get bored of your incompetence at finding him and eventually come back to you. For the tuna, if nothing else.

I'm still fixing that damn door, though.

Today's best search phrase: "HamMer the FIRE." GoOd idea. The pRObleM with FIRE is tHAt it'S toO DamN taLL.

posted by M. Giant 9:57 PM 3 comments


First stop: garage. Sofa: there. Cat: not.

This is why we love you. Thank you, M. Giant, for the daily laughter.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 29, 2005 at 8:31 AM  

I am so glad that your cat is safe. I think you have had enough cat losses for one year -- make that many years. Gina

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 29, 2005 at 9:06 PM  

My MK is given to similar behaviors, but he will stay gone for at least a day, most times. Last time it was a week.

Glad the kitty's home safe.

By Blogger parcequilfaut, at April 1, 2005 at 7:43 PM  

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