The Case of the Missing Cat Who Wasn’t

When I came back from the book tour, I was greeted with hugs and kisses, which was very nice, but also with some potentially bad news, which was that Lopsided Cat, the Scalzi Compound’s most senior cat, had gone missing for two whole days, and that when last he was seen, he was wandering toward the treeline with a limp.

This was naturally cause for concern, because Lopsided Cat is not young — he was at least a couple of years old when he came to us, and that was a dozen years ago — and also because we live in rural America, which has things like coyotes in it. As a mostly-outdoor, working cat (we have agricultural fields on three sides, and in the fall and winter the rodents that live in the fields occasionally attempt to move into the house, so all three cats guard against those incursions) there is a decent chance that one day Lopsided Cat would leave the house and just not come back. Krissy and Athena had walked the treeline and checked the basement and the hedges thoroughly, but Lopsided Cat was nowhere to be found. Krissy thought it important to let me know the current state of the cat’s whereabouts or lack thereof. We all prepared to be sad for the possible end of our excellent cat.

Which why when Lopsided Cat actually showed up later in the evening, still limping a bit but otherwise perfectly fine, he was annoyed and surprised by the sudden amount of attention his appearance garnered — lots of happy yelling and petting and being picked up and squeezed. His expression at the time clearly communicated What the hell? but he tolerated the attention, then ate some food and went to sleep in the basement, as is his custom. And then in the morning he went back out again, because, well. That’s his thing. As is, for that matter, occasionally disappearing for a couple of days.

So, crisis averted for now. It’s still entirely possible one day Lopsided Cat will wander off and then just not come back, because, again: outdoor cat in a rural area, used to his independence. But today is not that day. He’s still around, and we’re happy to have him, for as long as we do.

48 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Cat Who Wasn’t

  1. I’m happy to hear of Lopsided Cat’s return. Thank you for allaying our fears right in the title rather than going for a local-news-style title like “Was Lopsided Cat Eaten by a Coyote?”

    If the need should ever arise to do a full-out search, my brother has written guides to finding lost cats and dogs. He does it professionally, so he knows whereof he writes. He’s also published a novel, which I highly recommend.

  2. This is why I will never have an outdoor cat. I’m not emotionally equipped for the inevitable disappearances, whether temporary or permanently.

    A few days after we got my first cat (I was 21 years old), she went missing. My housemates and I searched everywhere, and started to wonder if she had gotten outside. I was a complete basket case, much to the alarm of my housemates who were accustomed to me being rather a hardass.

    She eventually turned up to have gotten trapped in a desk drawer where she had hidden for a bit of quiet time. But yeah, that was when I knew I would NEVER have outdoor cats. Fortunately I don’t live next door to farms and the local mice seem content with living in the mulch pile at the back of the property.

  3. Even if it doesn’t persist, your cat may be in need of care. Cats don’t show they are hurting until they are in a lot of pain. Even a small change in behavior is reason to give the vet a call. I learned this the hard way. Not to be lecture-y, just from experience.

  4. How tightly they weave into our lives. Or is that surprising? No, not really. Without language (well, we talk, but do we expect them to understand? ) as effective communication we are left to our emotions and they, theirs. It’s a refreshing change I find.

    I remember when our cat of old, Batu, was gone for two days. My wife and I were naturally worried and it hung in the air as we got on with our lives. The night of the second day I stood in the back yard, waiting. For something. And then it came: the thinnest mewling of a meow. I followed it as adrenaline coursed. Louder. Louder still. There I was standing next to my neighbor’s house, beside the window of their basement garage. And there was Batu, his white form visible on the sill, eager to get out.

    No finer feeling really.

    Very happy that Lopsided Cat is back among those that love him best.

  5. It’s always good to see a missing cat come back.

    Way back about thirty years ago, we found one of our indoor/outdoor cats dead in the street from being hit by a car. Great sadness ensued, and we buried the corpse in the backyard with appropriate ceremony.

    That evening, our cat showed up on the back porch, meowing for his dinner and looking confused about the fuss we made over him.

    I had buried someone else’s look-alike cat. To this day, I feel a little chagrined, because some family somewhere in the neighborhood had their cat just vanish, with no idea what happened to it.

    The kicker? Our cat’s name was Aslan.

  6. We had one of ours go missing during our Honeymoon last year. Sweetest cat, loves everyone, so our pet sitter was beside herself.

    Lo and behold, about 5 weeks later, my husband hears meowing and goes to let one of the other cats in the backdoor. Instead, our missing cat comes running inside. He was a bit skinny, but immediately began headbutting for pets and cuddles.

    I had honestly given up hope, it was pretty much the best to have him back. And nowadays, he’s rarely out of the house for more than a few hours at a time.

  7. I’m glad Lopsided Cat has deigned to honour you with his presence once more.

    I can’t find any research to support the claim that cats don’t show they are hurting until they are in a lot of pain, but since NSAIDs are notoriously dodgy in cats then the Lopsided one may be missing out on the opportunity of getting out of his skull in a totally legal manner…

  8. I worked for a vets back in my teens (after-school job) and we saw quite a few cats that went downhill fast with illness. Add me to the vet visit recommendation list. Lopsided could have gotten bitten or stepped on something sharp..

  9. LAJ

    I’m pretty sure that Lopsided Cat has had his share of fights, and that he wouldn’t have survived as a working outdoor cat to his present age if he didn’t watch where he walked.

    We tend to overlook the fact that adaptive pain plays a major role in keeping us alive; if a human being sprains an ankle then doctors provide analgesia and crutches, along with instructions not to put weight on the affected foot.

    If a cat acquires the equivalent of a sprained ankle then analgesia simply results in the cat doing more damage to the affected limb, unless they are immobilised, and if they are immobilised they are then subject to the same risks that immobilised human beings are.

    Those risks include death, which is why watchful waiting is a sensible approach in cats as well as human beings.

    And thus Lopsided Cat connects with Lock In…

  10. how many four legged family members do you have? I seem to remember you have dogs as well. or how many “pets?” (I don’t like to think of them as pets because we have turtles, snakes and fish, along with one rat and enough cats to form a stampede). you don’t get to our density of animals if you can’t think of them as family members

  11. I remember when my first cat went away to die. I think mom told me he went to live on a farm, which confused me since we lived on a farm. All the cats I have ever had have saved me at some point in my life, mostly be a well timed snuggle or kissing tears away. The little delights

  12. Captioning, “What? I was in Miami for a couple days. You guys can’t handle the rodents for just THAT long? What’s wrong with you? I’m going to go take a nap now.”

  13. We have a vet who makes house calls. This was essential with our late cats Sylvie and Bruna, who were impossible to get into the cat carriers and were utterly miserable the whole time. Unfortunately, Dr Perl doesn’t do birds, and so we had to put Carmen (our blue-fronted Amazon parrot) into a transfer cage so we can take her this afternoon to a vet who does do birds. She’s in her late forties, and she’s taken to pulling out her feathers again. If I were her I probably would too. She’s not confined to a cage except at night, but she really wants human companionship. And although she lives in the kitchen, where we spend a lot of time, we do other things as well. Perhaps they have Prozac for birds.

  14. I our neighborhood we see the occasional “lost dog” signs and I take note of the number and type of dog just in case I see them. When I see a “lost cat” sign I just shake my head knowing that on any given walk I’ll catch fleeting glimpses of at least a couple of cats never sure if they’re someone’s “pet”, a stray, or “lost”.

  15. Glad to hear of Lopsided Cat’s return.

    I often long for a cat of my own. I live with my mother and she doesn’t want an indoor cat since they require a litterbox. Well, we live in town so there is no way we can have an outdoor kitty. I’ve learned to live vicariously through my don’t-call-me-a-crazy-cat-lady-even-though-I-have-seven-indoor-cats friend.

  16. I think Lopsided Cat (and perhaps all of your cats) must be Klingon cats . . . when I die, it’s not going to be dishonorably in a cat bed or on a blanket, but in battle with honor.

  17. Hugs to all y’all for the safe return of Lopsided Cat.
    Do tell, though, why he bears that name…asymmetric coloration, perhaps?

  18. Glad to hear Lopsided Cat came home. My family has had its share of indoor/outdoor cats. One, a stripped tiger cat named Tigger disappeared for months once then just turned back up one day like nothing had ever happened. Then he disappeared again and was never seen again.

    Another, a 7-toed Maine Coon named Stubs (the tips of his ears froze off the winter we adopted him) was a former stray and the world was his house. He just used ours for warmth in the winter and tuna fish. He would disappear regularly to do whatever it is kings of the world do in their free time. Stubs would go on to live in three different States (and always remained an outdoors cat) and eventually pass at 17 due to a brain tumor. I still miss the hell out of him.

  19. James Purcell

    Cats in general have done an excellent job on domesticating humans, and Stubs in particular was obviously pleased with his pets.

    I have always lived in towns, and I too had an outdoor cat who would prowl these mean streets, and wander home when he felt like it, though my mother would sometimes despatch me to try to call him. He was jet black, named Sinner, and lived up to his name, which caused some embarrassment from time to time, but I loved him.
    His successor, named Brandy for his colouring, and warm personalty, liked fighting just as much as Sinner did but he was absolutely useless at it; it reached the point where the vet said he’d probably die in the next fight so we signed the neutering papers, and felt guilty. He lived a long life, and I was away at University when it ended. I cried…

  20. Our cat Sebastian did the same thing, he was missing for a few days. At age 15 we were quite worried and I remember walking thru the woods and around the neighborhood calling him. He came home and was a mess, full of wanderers and knots. He was my first kitty so I was very relieved he came home. We had three cats that were outdoor cats and now we have 3 indoor cats. We have too many predators roaming our area.

  21. May I say how grateful I am this thread didn’t devolve into a fight over whether cats should be allowed outside or not? And I’m so glad Lopsided Cat (how do you call him? or do you?) came home.

  22. I echo all of the comments above. I’m glad to hear that Lopsided Cat has found his way home, for now, and will promptly continue to do as he is wont to do and patrol the borders of his territory against any incursion, regardless of threat to life, limb, or liberty.

    I love my cats, even if they worry me with their daily wanderings around the neighborhood. They want their freedom, and I don’t have it in me to keep them caged inside when their feral instincts cry out for exploration.

  23. “The human is back. I finally decided to go out and look for him – and after two days of searching, I come home to find him there. How annoying.”

  24. I meant to ask you at the Philly stop of the book tour how to pronounce “Ghlaghghee,” but it slipped my mind during the signing. Glad to hear that Lopsided Cat is alive and well and doing Lopsided activities!

  25. Ooops, sorry for not asking teh googler sooner, but apparently “Ghlaghghee” is “Fluffy,” more or less. Awesome! :-)

  26. We are recovering from one of ours being gone for a week. Like the Great Scalzi, we live in a rural area plus a lot of the local inbreds let their massive hunting dogs roam the streets so we were assuming she was up in Cat Heaven. Instead she showed up exactly one week to the day she went missing, smelling like a machine shop and quite a bit thinner. So she was locked in someone’s shed for a week but managed to find a water source. Whew. Good to hear that Lopsided Cat is back. Maine Coons are a precious national resource.

  27. We live in the deep woods in SW West Virginia, and currently have 2 cats. We have had up to nine (9) after a birthing accident led to 5 new kittens one summer. We had 5 until late 2012 when the 2 oldsters both went down at the ripe age of around 20 from kidney failure, and one of the new generation failed to return from a forest adventure.

    He was a younger fixed tom cat, very sure of himself, and probably needed to be a little more paranoid when out in the deep woods late at night. The surviving two cats, both fixed females, are very paranoid when outside, usually hanging around the woodshed at the end of the big deck. Rodents are common there, why go any further?

    The cats seem to take rodents over birds at at least a 10:1 ratio, and the two dogs almost never take birds, but do a lot of chipmunks, which is sad as I like chipmunks. The population never dips, though, as the deep woods provide replacements continuously.

    Glad Lopsided got back, I agree that he was out looking for the missing human, no other rational explanation.

    Our cats come when we call them, based upon many years of calling them for dinner, which almost always works nearly instantly. Cats are nothing if not ready for dinner.

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