The whole thing started at breakfast, when The Ravishing Mrs. TB asked if I had seen A the Cat.
I had not, as it occurred; usually he comes boiling up when I get up in the morning for a brief round of attention, followed by rather insistent requests to have the Catio opened up for him. The Catio door was open when I got up, so I assumed that he was out there.
No, he was not.
She had made the rounds of the house, so I made them again. The only places he could have gone were the front yard, back yard, or the garage. We checked each of those. I had been up in the attic the night before checking a noise; did I look there again? I did; no cat.
I made a circle out of our front door, calling out "A" and shaking his bag of cat treats, which he will always come for. Nothing. I came back to the house and activated the microchip service; The Ravishing Mrs. TB posted on her Social Media.
But life goes on, missing cat or no. Or in my case, starting the morning with a biennial physical.
I managed to push the events out of my mind until my way home - then, about two miles out from our house, I caught sight of an orange form on the road.
I pulled over in a nearby parking lot and scooted out to the road. It was an orange cat that had been hit head on by a car. It looked too orange and too small to be A and there was no color, so I put it to the side of the road and drove home.
And then drove back.
I have a rule, when I can practice it, that no-one dies alone - or at least, lies out alone. I have brought home doves destined to die and rabbits hit by cars and mice and buried them all around the house. No-one deserves to rot if possible.
I was pretty convinced it was still not A, so I found a spot and buried him. On the off chance A was outside I put out water and food out both doors and in the garage, having left the attic access down.
And somehow tried to make a day of it.
A missing or sick animal is only second to a sick child in its ability to completely derail your train of thought - or my case, my work day. I was about 30% focused on work; the rest of the time was spent stalking the front and back of the yard, going in the garage, climbing up in the attic and going almost all the way back, and checking my e-mail to see if there was an alert. Still nothing.
But in the back of my head, I still wondered about the cat I had found.
Finally, when everyone else left the house, I called my friend at the rabbit shelter. Would it be okay, I asked, if I used their chip reader to see if I could find something. Of course, she said.
And so I re-unburied the cat, but him in a laundry basket wrapped in a second t-shirt, and drove to the rabbit shelter. I checked with both scanners: I could find nothing. That was not definitive as my friend said the microchips could move around, but I did the best I could. And then back home, to re-bury the body.
Someone had to go to pick Nighean Dhonn up from school and I volunteered. Driving out there, I was planning the rest of my evening: when the sun dropped down a bit, I would get the snack bag and try walking the local streets again to see if he would come out.
Driving my daughter back, she got a picture: The Wandering A had been found.
Nighean Bhean had opened the door to the garage and found him there, sitting and drinking water from the bowl without a care in the world. From the fluff in his whiskers, he had apparently spent his day in the attic, avoiding all of our searches, and then meandered back down (those are about 8' ladders, if you have never climbed one) looking for all the world as if he had been there the whole time.
The whole family rejoiced in the reunion; A, aloof as ever, seemed a bit put off by the whole thing and apparently seriously questions why we were concerned about him being gone.
The orange cat I found I buried a bit deeper, now assured that I would not have cause to need to find the body again. I do not know its life; I hope its spirit can rest a bit easier in death. I will try to find something nice to plant over it.
It strikes me as odd, how this little balls of fluff and fur can have such huge emotional impacts on our lives.