I knew it would happen someday.
Sunday turned out to be the day. Romeo made his break for freedom.
I was up early, a bit after 5 a.m., and, somewhat ironically in retrospect, was worried that I hadn’t seen Ms. Annie since our dinner guests exited the front door Saturday night.
After doing a surreptitious sweep of the house in the semi-darkness and failing to spot her (trying not to alarm Meda in the process), I had a gnawing worry that perhaps somehow Annie made an escape when our friends left.
And if she did, I figured she might be waiting right outside to come back in. I thought I was being extremely cautious when I cracked the door open and took a quick look outside, but before I knew it there was a grey blur from out of nowhere, past me and down the stairs and immediately under the house before I could react. Well, not quite immediately. Romeo did look back at me somewhat guiltily before slipping into the darkness under the house.
So there I was, standing in the dark, somewhat in shock, as Romeo disappeared and was outside on his own for the first time in our new location, with a relatively busy street out in front. Every time a car passed, I cringed.
Now I had to sound the alarm and get Meda’s help in rounding him up.
To add to my burden, I checked the spot where Annie had been lost a couple of other times, way back in the pantry with slide-out drawers alongside our refrigerator. I opened the door, looked down on the bottom shelf, pushed aside a small case of Fancy Feast cat food, and sure enough. There was Annie, stretching and sleepily coming out of the closet.
So she was safe and sound in the house, while Romeo had taken advantage of my concern over Annie to make the first successful breakout.
I tried popping open a new can of cat food and setting the dish near the spot where Romeo had disappeared. No Romeo.
Meda brought me a flashlight, and I lay down in the dirt and took a look under the house. In my second pass, I spotted him, near that same area.
So I went back in front and tried to lure him out with the little laser pointer cat toy. Chasing that moving little red dot is something he usually can’t resist. But being in the dirt under the house was apparently much more appealing.
By this time my main concern was keeping him from going towards the street. As long as he went wandering in the back yard, he would be safe and eventually come back for food and affection.
A few minutes later, I took another look under the house and didn’t see him.
But then my luck turned. I headed to the back side of the house, and there he was, just emerging behind our bedroom and happy to see me. Instead of running away, this time he cried and came to me. I happily scooped him up and we headed back into the house.
Our cats used to be 100% indoor cats, even after we moved out of our initial highrise apartment into a ground level townhouse. And even when we moved to Kaaawa, they were inside cats at first. Actually, we had the cats segregated into the outside boys, who we adopted but lived outside, and the inside cats who had moved with us from town.
It was only when we started some serious home renovations that we decided the only way to proceed was to open the doors and let the cats go wherever they wanted, then collect them each day after the work was done. That worked out so well that we eventually transitioned them to being inside-outside cats.
And that freedom to roam continued until we started planning this latest move back into the city.
We’re pretty set on keeping them inside. Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives, and avoid the fights and injuries and accidents that are the burden of the outside cats and their people.
But Romeo has signaled that he’s not totally with the program, so we’ll see.