The ghost of reunions past

Jake in his catnip bush living the good life.

Our family reunion is tomorrow. First one since 2019 and I haven’t seen most of my relatives since then. This is a story from 2015, when I hosted. Jake, my late great cat, could make my life topsy turvy but he also supplied me with great posts. This his last reunion. He passed on a month later.

Every reunion has its story. Sometimes it’s about people and sometimes not. This year it’s about my old cat Jake.

Jake is over 18 and that’s old for a cat. He is an indoor/outdoor cat but his outdoor time is very little and usually involves lying on the warm brick patio.

Usually.

This past Sunday I was hosting my family reunion. That means I’m slightly (ok, maybe more than slightly) neurotic. Getting things ready. Do we have enough? (I don’t know why I ever worry about that!)

Jake went out after breakfast like he always does. He usually smells the perimeter bushes and if there was an offending critter that came in during the night, he will pee on the bush to establish territory. It’s exhausting work keeping the yard safe. Sometimes he can spend over an hour peeing on bushes with his old bladder.

Around noon I realized he never came back in. The plan was to keep the cats upstairs through the festivities. I had until 4 p.m. to find him and get him back inside.

I went walking his favorite spots around 2:30 p.m. but couldn’t find him. It’s ok. I have another hour and a half. Or so I thought.

My brother showed up an hour early with his family. It’s not a problem except there is no way Jake will come in. Strangers! Lots of them (anything more than one is lots)!

By the time everyone left it would be dark and he hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I didn’t think it would be too hard to get him back in.

Ha!

The last folks left before 9 p.m. A perimeter walk came up cat less. We cleaned up. Made sure all the food was put away. I walked the yard again. No Jake.

I walked the yard calling for him every half hour until midnight when my weary bones were exhausted so I went to sleep.

Since he hadn’t eaten and he only has three teeth (hard to gum something to death) I was afraid he’d be hungry. I left a small dish of dry cat food with some water in the screened porch which has a cat door. In a moment of brilliance I closed the door so he could only come in and couldn’t go back out. (Que scary music here!)

At 3:30 a.m. (my first pee break) I decided to check the screen porch. I would let him back in if he was sleeping on the chair. There was a critter in the porch all right but it wasn’t Jake.

There was a raccoon happily dining on cat food. He was taking a nice long drink of water. He’s trapped on the porch because he can’t get out the cat door which is how he came in.

How do I know that? When he was done he went over to the cat door to get out. He acts like he’s done this before although we never leave food out there.

All day long the exterior people door to the screened porch would stick and would not close unless you pushed it. All I had to do was run around the back; push the door open; and run like hell back into the house.

Yeah, that’s all.

By the time I got back to the house I heard the damn door slam shut. First time it did that all day.

So far the raccoon isn’t agitated although I thought about waking up the beloved husband in case I was attacked. In the end I thought it wise to let sleeping husbands sleep.

I took a long stick I use for the pond to push open the door again and jammed it between the door and the sash.

The damn door again closed but not all the way. There was a 2” opening. I wisely went inside the house to watch the raccoon through a nice safe window.

He calmly opened the door and scurried on his way delighted that he had such a great supper. He would have to tell his friends about this restaurant.

I called for Jake but chose not to walk the yard in case other critters were lurking but again no Jake.

Now I was wide awake. From 3:30 on, every 20 to 30 minutes I checked for him. At 5:30 a.m. I heard him howling at the back door.

I let him in. He was looking for the wait staff (that would be me) to open the restaurant and feed him. Not surprisingly, the other three cats showed up from nowhere. They must have heard that the cat diner opened early.

He slept the entire day except for a vet visit and he had no interest in going outside again.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I won’t have another cat that goes outdoors. When you invest yourself in a pet, the anguish runs too deep when they can’t be found.

This story had a good end. Most of the reunion stories do although some have surprise, tragedy or heartache along the way.

And that was the reunion story for 2015!

47 thoughts on “The ghost of reunions past

  1. That darn cat! I know they had a movie title like that once. We had parakeets over the years and they were only allowed out of the cage on our finger or shoulder, but never when we had food out. We never had an instance where the birds did anything more than sit and maybe nibble on an earring or a piece of hair, but they never tried to fly. Except for this one time and our beloved Joey took a notion to fly off my mom’s shoulder for parts unknown. No one knew why he bolted, nor where he went. It happened quickly and we were all in the kitchen and we were sick he got behind the fridge where we couldn’t see him – moving the fridge was not an option as he might get rolled over. We tried to see behind the fridge … impossible without moving it out. We scoured every room and it is a small house. It was Winter and the cellarway door was closed to keep it cozy, so whew … no worries he was downstairs. I am sure we went into the living room before, but one last pass before we’d think our little boy was injured and my father walked in there and Joey was sitting on the top slat of the ladderback chair and looked at my father and said “Hi Joey!” We heard him and rushed in there and he hopped onto my mom’s finger and she put him back in his cage. We didn’t let him out for the longest time after that. It was funny afterward – my mom swore Joey just wanted to know how much we thought of him. 🙂

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      • Yes, it is scary. Years ago my neighbor Marge bought a hamster, more for her granddaughter than herself, but it stayed at Marge’s house. She told everyone in the house that if they let it out of the cage to keep it in one room so it didn’t get lost. That advice fell on deaf ears and the hamster did an “Elvis has left the building” … it got lost in the house (presumably) and they never found it. [I found that story odd after you said your cats killed mice and you could smell the mice if they didn’t bring the mice to you as a present.]

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  2. What a nice way to look back and remember dear Jake. He had an adventure not long before he passed, and I suppose that was nice for him. Not so nice for you!! In our area there are too many coyotes to even begin thinking of outdoor kitties. I wouldn’t sleep, that’s for sure!

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  3. Hope you have a wonderful reunion! We used to have indoor/outdoor cats when we lived in the country, but now that we are in an urban area, no way are they getting out! Although really there was just as much to worry about in the country, it just didn’t occur to us.

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  4. I would have a nervous breakdown if I had cats outside. When one of my new semi ferals was out for a week before we caught her, I was so nervous. Have a wonderful reunion. XO

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    • Yes. Jake gave me many a near heart attack. One time when he was very young he was gone for 3 days. We couldn’t get him to stay inside. He would howl and often sneak out when someone opened the door. I have found that if they don’t go out at all it’s easier for me. I know people have good luck with getting them to come in when called but that wasn’t Jake.

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  5. I do like your cat stories. I remember Jake may he RIP. We had a cat that people who visited never saw. She was shy to the nth degree. I hope your reunion is all that and a bag of chips, as they say. Enjoy!

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  6. Friends of ours have three cats, one of which is allowed outside because it was originally an outdoors one who had been hanging around their backdoor before they eventually adopted it. They tell us that each time that cat returns from his various travels, the other two come running to him and smell him for about ten minutes. They are always curious about his adventures.

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  7. Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful reunion (with absolutely no feline drama). Yikes, I’d have been twisted up in so many knots worrying about my beloved missing fur baby. I may talk a tough line but I’m a complete wuss when it comes to the 4-legged cohort. 😸

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  8. Let’s hope there will be no surprises and lots of fun and relaxation for this year’s reunion. We, as you know, let Ted go outside but only with one or both of us with him. He loves that – he’s always in sight. He comes back to us both to “touch base” with a leg hug then finds a bush to lie under or something to sniff. I never was brave enough to consider letting him out on his own. Too many foxes around here. Jake must have felt the need for one last BIG NIGHT OUT. Bless him. Enjoy the reunion!

    Hugs, Pam

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    • He liked his independence. When I weaned him into coming in at dusk (often it was 10 p.m. until I could get him in) he whined a big as I often wouldn’t let him out after dinner. As he got older he was easy about it until that day. It was his last excursion.

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  9. I hope your reunion goes well without any surprises. I agree about keeping the cats indoors. I would find myself worrying all the time. I had a cat years ago that was a stray and used to the outdoors. I let it out the back door and by the time it got to the front I brought her back in. Eventually she stopped asking out. She either liked the indoors better or realized I was never going to let her go to far from home.

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