Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I'm Not Looking for My Lost Cat Anymore

Last week (Wednesday) my cat Daisy fell off the balcony of my 2nd floor condo, and ran away. I immediately started looking for her, but to no avail. Friends came and helped me search, by day and by night... I put out signs all over my complex as well as the one next door... I put out her carrier with my nightgown in it under my balcony with some food and water... I opened the screen door so Bunny could meow for her sister... I listed her as Lost with her picture on

It's been over a week now, and although I've had a couple of calls from the complex next door from people who saw her, and gone over and looked around for a few hours, I still can't find Daisy. It's like saying, "I know exactly where she is... she's somewhere in Metro Nashville!" It feels impossible to search out every nook and cranny where she may be hiding.

That first 24 hours was the worst. The temperature plummeted below freezing for the first time in weeks at night, and I was haunted by the idea of her being scared or hungry. She had never set foot outside, and has no survival skills although I knew she could hunt and she has her claws. I cried a lot that first day. Everyone has been so kind and concerned for me, and I am very grateful for the friends on Facebook who responded with suggestions and help.

But I'm not actively looking for her anymore. I have several reasons:
  1. I have always felt guilty for keeping my cats exclusively indoors. Yes, it's safer and they'll live longer and not bring in bugs and disease etc., etc... but it feels like I'm imprisoning them. I've always planned that when I get my own house with a yard, that I want my cats to be indoor/outdoor kitties if they like. My complex is not a good place for that, especially with so many dogs! I want them to be able to hunt and be real cats, not some animal restricted to what is convenient for me.
  2. Every time Daisy is spotted, she is further away from my condo. This means she's traveling away. To me this feels like she is on a walkabout vacation, and is in no hurry to return.
  3. Bunny is a different cat now! I had not realized how much Daisy had monopolized my time. I just thought that Daisy liked cuddling more, and Bunny was more independent. But ever since Daisy has gone, Bunny has "talked" non-stop... she is more of a growly cat than a meower, and she is utterly delightful - she's cuddly and affectionate and playful. I get the feeling that Daisy has been bullying Bunny all this time; if Bunny is in my lap, Daisy would sometimes hop up on the arm of the chair, meow a bit, and Bunny will immediately hop down whereupon Daisy will get into my lap! Daisy has always been something of a skittish coward; well, apparently she's a bully too. I don't want her to return, only to resume treating Bunny as second-class! They never did get on particularly well together; they had a polite but disinterested relationship, it always seemed to me. They would take turns when it was String Playtime, they occasionally fought, but they never cuddled together, which seemed very sad to me.
  4. Daisy suffers from Feline Urological Syndrome. This means that crystals tend to form in her bladder, cutting into the lining and giving her bloody urine and scar tissue, making urination difficult. She has been on a prescription diet to treat this for over a year now after drugs failed to fix it, but truth be told, she still has bloody urine even though she seems to be in no discomfort and her litterbox behavior seems normal. I have begun to wonder what her future would be... would the slow deterioration continue and in a year or so I would have to take her to the vet to be put down? This is not something I would want for her. If her days are numbered, then I am much happier for her to be out in nature, and not terrified on a cold metal table at the vet's.
I've been saying for a while that all I had to do to get Daisy to return was to replace her - if I get a kitten to keep Bunny company, I bet you anything Daisy will be at my door within a week. So in June after my vacation I will start looking for a little male kitten for Bunny to (hopefully!) love. I think I'd like a ginger.

It may seem that I am unnaturally calm and dispassionate about this... perhaps I am. I worry that it means I'm not very affectionate! That first day as I wandered around the treeline for the Nth time, calling for her, and continually wiping away the tears, the idea that she might not return was a nightmare. But I'm accustomed to being left behind; I have had many, many friends leave Nashville over the years, and although I used to get really upset about it, I had to find a way to live with abandonment on a regular basis. I don't feel like Daisy has abandoned me, precisely, but my hard-won pragmatism has kicked in and I've found a way to think of her and her future apart from me. I think I've mentally invented a different future for her that is happier and more like she was created to live. I don't want to think of her being unhappy and starving, and although I know she will have a learning curve, I am hopeful that she will adapt, or at least, find a new family who will love her well.