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Thursday, May 18, 2006  

The Escape Artist (Part Zillion)

I was supposed to write a blog entry last night. Instead, I did something else. Because Strat escaped again.

As I've said before, it happens a lot less than it used to, ever since we fixed the front storm door. But somehow he still got out last night. It's been over a year since the last time that happened, but this time was the worst one yet. Here's why.

I was a little late feeding him and giving him his insulin shot. Normally he gets a shot at 8:00 a.m. and a shot at 8:00 p.m. It was about 8:08 and M. Small was asleep in his crib when I spooned a little soft food into Strat's dish. Which I then carried around the house looking for him, as I always do twice a day. It was about 8:10 when I began to suspect that he wasn't in the house. At 8:12, I was out on the street, trying to figure out when and how he'd gotten out.

Not that I was worried. It wasn't dark yet, so I didn't have to rely on a narrow, little, neighborhood-watch-attracting shaft of illumination from a Maglite to peer in between houses and under bushes. Yet it wasn't full day any more, which meant that anything white--like Strat is, for instance--really popped into view from a distance. I am able to say this with some authority, after spotting any number of things from a block or more away that turned out not to be my cat.

As for his insulin shot, it's not ideal for it to be late, especially with his glucose running a little high like it has been, but he's gotten it up to an hour behind schedule before. A time or two, even later. In fact, in the two and a half years since he was diagnosed, I couldn't swear that he's never missed one entirely. Giving it to him when I found him at 8:30 wouldn't be a big deal.

When it was 9:00 and I still hadn't found him, 8:30 seemed a long way behind me.

Trash stayed behind at the house, of course, because she couldn't leave the kid alone. And every ten minutes or so, she'd call my cell phone. Every time I answered, I was hoping she'd say, "He was in M. Small's closet" or "he was under the refrigerator" or "he was on top of the drop-ceiling in the basement" or something, but all she ever said was, "Anything?" I would always assure her that I wasn't holding out on her, and go back to searching.

What sucks about looking for Strat is that the neighbors also have a white cat. He's an indoor/outdoor cat named Fievel, and every time we saw him outside we used to make sure that Strat was safe in the house, just to be sure it wasn't Strat we were looking at. Not that Fievel's a threat, mind you. On the contrary, this feline inspired the phrase "scaredy-cat." It's terrified of everything and everyone. We once saw him "chasing" a squirrel, and even the squirrel looked bored. The closest I ever got to him was one time when I was letting him into the neighbor's house, and he thought I had "cornered" him, and he tried to leap over the back door. The cat has no nerve, but a wicked vertical. He's also easily mistaken for Strat, until I try to get close to him and he teleports the fuck out of my sight. Strat doesn't do that. But the disappointment at realizing I've spotted the wrong cat is kind of a downer.

Here's what else sucks about looking for Strat: you are never, ever, ever going to find him. Once he's left the area defined by the three houses on each side of us, he is in the wind. Searching is futile. You just have to wait until he comes back.

But you can't not search, because he's your kitty, and he needs his medicine, and he needs it an hour and a half ago. So here you are, at 9:45 in the evening, full dark, relying on a narrow, little, neighborhood-watch-attracting shaft of illumination from a Maglite to peer in between houses and under bushes. If he's hiding, he's going to stay hid. Your only chance is that you'll happen to run into him as he crosses a street or driveway, or that on your next stop home you'll look in the garage and he’ll be curled up in the half-trashed armchair you're keeping out there.

Trash called off the search at 10:10. I sat in my study, working on my recap for about a half hour or so, even though I felt the opposite of funny (TWoP haters, keep it zipped). I also felt cold, because the back door was open in case Strat wandered into the back yard to eat the tuna we'd left on the deck. Of course the door from the study to the hallway was closed, because the last thing we needed was to also lose a cat that doesn't come back. Every ten minutes or so, I'd get up and go outside, looking for him in the garage, checking to see if the tuna was on the front step, what have you. Every time I went out, there was no sign.

I gave up writing at about 11:00, and I went out the back and around to the front. In the front yard, I met Trash, who had happened to step out the front door at about the same time. She wandered a few doors north, while I went to the south corner of the block. We regrouped again in front of the house, wondering what to do next, looking around instead of each other.

Which is when I spotted a moving white smudge in the darkness behind the high school. "There he is," I said, a bit prematurely.

I slowly approached it, not wanting to spook it. Even if it was just Fievel or an albino rabbit, I wanted to be sure before I scared it off. It dropped into a nervous crouch when I was about thirty feet away. I did the same. And then Strat came to me.

Trash carried him home and gave him the tuna we'd been saving for him. After calling both the 24-hour emergency vet and the 24-hour Walgreen's, we were satisfied that the best thing to do was to give him his regular dose of insulin, three hours later. And lots of love, of course. Because once again, we didn't find him. He came back.

So that's why I didn't write a blog entry last night.

posted by M. Giant 10:00 PM 3 comments


I'm so glad that you found him and were able to keep your cool. I would have burst into tears by 10 pm. Drat that Strat!

By Blogger Weetabix, at May 19, 2006 at 7:48 AM  

Damn it, Strat! You should scare your people like that. I'm glad he came home, M. Giant. You have had enough kitty troubles in the last couple of years.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 19, 2006 at 10:03 AM  

We jokingly refer to our oldest cat, Budddy, as our LSD cat because he has a brain disorder which makes him resemble someone with Alzheimer's. He forgets that he can jump up onto the counter where the cats are fed but remembers that he can jump into my lap. We are always on alert when he goes into the fenced backyard because he sometimes forgets where the back door is. Pets can be so trying.

By Blogger Morgan, at May 19, 2006 at 12:47 PM  

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