Lydia escaped out a partially open window last night sometime between 8pm and midnight.
Normally , every night when I’m about to wrap up for bed the last fifteen minutes are spent listening to Lydia howl and meow at me as I respond to her chirps and grunts, telling her to stop nagging me: “I’ll go to bed when I’m good and ready!”. It’s a nightly ritual, until last night. Last night I walked up the stairs around 1am, waiting for her to come bounding up the stairs weaving in and out of my feet trying to kill me, except she didn’t come. I brushed my teeth and took a shit as usual, except she didn’t stick her paws under the bathroom door trying to touch my foot. I got into bed and she didn’t jump up after me and rub her chin along my leg. I immediately thought of the window that was open a about 4 inches (more open than usual — we do this to vent the portable A/C unit downstairs.) She moved the sheet of cardboard out the way so she could squeeze through.
Just like the previous “hole in the wall” incident, I knew instinctively where she was; or more accurately I knew where she wasn’t.
So, from 1am until 6am I wandered the back alleys around our house. I kept catching glipses of a small black cat mixed in with two other orange tabby strays and although it seemed unusual that she would be so sociable so quickly, I figured it was her. I mean she’s black; it was dark; it was hard to be sure so I played it safe.
Also scurrying around the alleyways and the nearby abandoned lot are a ton of rats. Big rats.
Big, nasty, surely disease infested and rabid, Willard-style rats.
Around 6am the sun started coming up and the black cat and her two cohorts were clearly done with teasing me and ran off I managed to follow them to a neighbor’s yard just in time to see the neighbor come out into the back and serve up a healthy platter of food for the felines. Now illuminated by the porch light, the black cat clearly had a small streak of white on it’s chest.
I had just spent 5 hours wasting ninja caliber tracking skills and feeding Fancy Feast to someone else’s cat.
I sat on our back stoop for a while, ringing Lydia’s favorite jingle-ball toy and shaking her food bag but she never showed her puss. It was getting light now and neighbors were coming out of their houses, cars were driving by, dogs were barking and the Salvadorian couple next door were fighting in Spanish. I knew Lydia would be in full-on hiding mode for a while so I went upstairs, e-mailed work to let them know I was going to be late and crashed in my bed, holding Plato tight.
Work called at 11:42am, waking me up. I checked my text messages. My boss had left one at 11:30 asking if I was on my way or not; apparently he didn’t get my e-mail. I immediately called him back and he explained there was an emergency with one of our client’s sites. I called the datacenter and spoke to one of our techs while walking to the metro, stopping first to glance around the back driveway for signs of feline and then at target’s snack bar — a two dollar chicken sausage combo was destined to be brunch.
Work went by quickly but I couldn’t stop thinking about Lydia being scared under the house, or stuck in a tree, or eaten by a colony of wayward rats. ‘Berto said he’d be able to come straight home and keep an ear and an eye out for her. She’d only be on her own for 4 hours or so, that’s not enough time to get mauled by squirrels, right?
I was able to leave by 6pm and messaged ‘berto on the way to the Rockville Metro station to see if he was home yet. A few minutes later he called me back — he had found Lydia but she was scared and sitting between the fence and our neighbor’s shed. It would probably take us both to get her as one of us would need to distract her so the other could jump the fence and get to her before she ran away. I told him I’d be 45 minutes or so and to keep an eye on her.
I got home on schedule and immediately went to the back yard where I could see her, curled up in a black ball in some weeds trembling a little, but I could tell she was excited to see me. I stuck my fingers through the holes in the wire fence and she leaned into them. She was scared but I could tell she knew we were going to get her out. I managed to work her to the edge of the length of fence furthest away from where ‘Berto would be jumping over. Long story short (too late) he managed to hop over, pick her up, lift her over the fence and I brought her inside. She ran straight to her food bowl.
The bitch got her first tub bath in years shortly after filling her belly. It went better than expected.
Now I need to find a place in DC that sells Frontline or Advantage tomorrow. Lydia was already scratching a little before this adventure — I doubt this helped.
I know that was long and in the end, not much happned but there’s a message there:
GO HUG YOUR PET. NOW.