When the cat shot out the door Tuesday evening, so did my heart. We live in coyote territory, and having lost two cats already to the howling in the night, I especially didn’t want to lose Miyako, one of my favorite animals of all time. This is a cat who lives for love, focusing most of her energy, when she’s not sleeping (or sleeping on top of one of us), on showing great affection for all of us. She often sleeps on my chest at night or in the crook of my arm, and when she was little, Natalie and I carried her so much that I seriously considered getting a cloth baby carrier.
For hours, I opened the door, stepped outside and meowed because when she’s gotten out before, she has meowed back when she was close. I also called her at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., etc. By morning, I was frantic, especially since she wasn’t at the door. I climbed the hills looking for her, and drove all over the farm before having to leave for a gig in El Dorado. Daniel then spent three hours combing the land for any sign (or — let it not be! — remains). Throughout the day, I went through many kitty-is-gone stages of grief:
- Bargaining: I promised all the gods and goddesses and any other entities out there that I would do the dishes more, be kinder to others, and show my kitty even more attention.
- Denial: She’s right here, and if I can just meow enough, she’ll appear.
- Depression: So there were tears. “It’s just a cat, Mom!” Daniel said, which made me most upset because “just a cat” is more than enough to break your heart.
- Psychic Guessing: I imagined all kinds of scenarios and had friends tell me if they thought she was okay. “I think she is. I just feel it,” said Kris, and later, Natalie.
- Facebook Mobilization: I asked friends to pray and wish for her return. I wasn’t completely surprised by how much people “got it.”
- Thrashing Around: Banging things and making noise, not being able to get comfortable in my own skin.
- Reluctance to eat, sleep, talk coherently or do anything with any concentration.
Finally, I escaped the stages of kitty-loss through kitty-return. I stepped outside, still weepy and depressed at 10 p.m. last night and meowed, but this time, I heard a response. We call-and-response meowed with each other for a while until Miyako came out from under the house, probably here all the time. I gathered her in my arms and cried in happiness. The utter joy of the prodigal cat can erase all those kitty loss stages in an instance. And what did I do after she was settled in? I washed the dishes.