Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Unexpectedly: A Happy Ending


Nellie-Cat returned home this morning, three weeks to the day since his mysterious disappearance.
From the first I had a heavy feeling that we wouldn't see him again. He was so totally gone away.
The general opinion was that he had been snatched by a hawk--a coyote--a bobcat, even.
A part of my mind accepted this, a part of me railed in silent anger that such a young and healthy cat's life had apparently been taken.
Still, I couldn't stop looking for him--if not now combing the roadside, the edge of the woods, the bank of the brook--I continued to scan the area of gravel in front of the stable, visible from the kitchen window. I flicked on the porch light--one last time each night--hoping against all reason to see Nellie sitting on the step.
It was with a wary sense of disbelief that looking out from a task at the kitchen sink, I saw a pale shape sitting upright on a horizontal branch in the brush heap beyond the fence.
At different times during the past three weeks, I have taken a few steps toward the brush pile, only to realize that a light blur was merely the low slanting sun highlighting a bit of bleached wood.



The cat shape on the log didn't move as I walked quietly across the gravel.  Part way across the expanse I could clearly see the grey 'mask' on the cat's face.
With a leap of my heart I called softly, "Nellie, Nellie-cat." 
The cat didn't move but something in his stance became more alert.
"Nellie!  Here kitty, kitty."

Nellie hopped down from the log, paced slowly toward me--so unlike his usual bouncing trot.
Nellie's 'meow'--like that of his brothers--is a tiny sound.
As he approached I could see his mouth opening as he answered my calls.
He fell against my ankles and I felt the purr begin.
I lifted him, noting how thin and weightless he had become.
I buried my face in his fur, wondering if his scent would offer a clue to his recent where-abouts.
His fur smelt cleanly of dry leaves, of the woods, of country air.
His purring rumbled through his lanky frame.

In the house, I tipped him onto the floor, hurried to get out cat dishes and open a tin of gourmet cat food.  "Tea!" I announced. 
The other cats invaded the kitchen, summoned by this very untimely announcement of a treat.
Faced with their returned companion, they refused to eat, marching stiffly about him while Nellie hoovered the contents of one bowl after another.


"Ello--is that you, bro?  You smell funny!"


I trotted off to the lower house where Jim was working, located him in the upstairs hallway fitting an electrical outlet.
I told him simply, "Nellie has come home."
"After three weeks," Jim marveled. "I wouldn't have thought it!"



Nellie has been tired today, doubtless a bit weak from lack of food.
He wandered about the house, checked his favorite lounging spots, had trouble with his first attempt to leap to the foot of our high bed. I lifted him up and he stretched for awhile in the pool of sunshine.
His pattern for the remainder of the day has been to nap for about 20 minutes, then visit the kibble dispenser and the water bowl. 
Whenever we have been in his vicinity he has nattered beseechingly, darted from one of us to the other, leaning against our legs, purring as though he might never have enough of our company.



Bobby sniffed him over, said 'Huh'--not a full-fledged 'hiss', but rather a huff of dismissal.
Bobby then besieged the front door as if to say, 'Alright, he's back, he wasn't eaten by a coyote or snatched by a hawk, now we can play outside again!'



In spite of Nellie's safe return, our questions aren't answered.
I suspect he may have gone up the ridge track, possibly across the area recently logged which backs on several houses along the next crossroad.
Did he wander into an outbuilding?  Was he shut in for a time?
Surely he has gone without food.
Where was he during the several rainy nights and days, the chilly dark mornings when frost lay white on the ground and mist swirled damply above the houses?
Keeping the three boy cats inside means constant watchfulness; it means denying their obvious joy in exploration, their happy prowlings about the dooryard.
For now, we feel their security and our peace of mind suggests they should be indoor cats.


Tonight, after a good 'tea' Nellie is content to curl beside Jim on the couch.
He ate his tinned food with his old relish, pushing in to polish his brothers' bowls when 
they were too slow.
I expect that he will follow us upstairs at bedtime to sprawl his long body between us.
I have missed his headlong hurtling descent of the stairs with me each morning.
He will need to learn that my first act of the day will no longer be to open the front door so that he can dash out.
Dear friends, who offered words of comfort when Nellie was lost, share now our happiness at his safe--though unexplainable--restoration to the family fold.



30 comments:

  1. How wonderful!! I'm so glad he's back!

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    1. Jan; I keep looking at him--we are over-joyed!

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  2. Oh I'm so happy for you. Do keep them in.indoor cats live longer.We've stopped letting ours go out. She's not happy, but I'm happy.

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    1. Janet; The stats re life expectancy for outdoor cats aren't great, are they!

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  3. Sharon!! your email brought tears to my eyes!! Im so happy for you!! When George was missing last year I was distraught-- and that was 5 days, I know how hard three weeks has been for you. This is the best news ive heard for a long time!!

    Leanne.x

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    1. Leanne; thank you for your early morning email--and for holding to the hope that Nellie would return.

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  4. Marvellous news, so happy for you xxx

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    1. Thelma; So much 'news' is depressing--I was excited to share this.

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  5. Like the best novels - totally unexpected, but happy, ending.

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    1. John; This is surely a 'cozy' ending--when I was trying to adjust to the worst.

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  6. That is so brilliant! It sounds to me as though he got himself shut in somewhere so I wouldn't worry too much about letting them all go out again, it's a natural thing for cats for cats to do. I'm so pleased for you:)

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    1. Rowan; I do think he has been shut in somewhere as a result of exploring some place he shouldn't have been. For now, I'm easier with keeping these cats inside--the always outside cats have to take their chances.

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  7. I am overjoyed with you Sharon. It does sound like he has been shut in somewhere. Poor boy, I am so glad he made it home and your heart is whole again. It truly made my day when I read on Facebook that he had returned.

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    1. Jennie; Our 'poor boy' is definitely in need of 'feeding up'--but he is so happy to be home safe and we are so delighted to have him back.

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  8. WOWEE!!!! What a happy event! I can imagine how overjoyed you both are to have him back, and he must feel the same way too.

    I am so happy for you and thankful to God for bringing this little lost one back home.

    FlowerLady

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    1. Rainey; I had truly prayed that if I couldn't have him back, I might be given the peace of knowing what happened. Now, although we may never know the facts for sure, we have him back--a gift!

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  9. I can't tell you how happy I am to see this news.

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    1. Lillian; those of us who love animals share the sadness when one is lost and the relief when one is restored to health and home.

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  10. That's wonderful news! Barn cats do like to disappear for periods of time, we've discovered. We had one cat that was gone for two years, then one day reappeared. Totally feral by then. He was like a small panther, so muscular and he forgot how to meow. Why he returned, we'll never know. But after a week, he had enough of our company and snuck out the door, never to return. We were kind of relieved, since the children were terrified of him!

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    1. Jane; I am reminded of a cat we rescued and brought inside but could never tame--there was something about her personality that made me very uncomfortable--as though she might fly in my face, claws out, at any moment. I finally caught her and had her put down--not a happy ending, but I think the safest one.

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  11. I had tears in my eyes as I suspect, did many of your other readers. This is the best news, I'm so happy.

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    1. Kath; There is something about animal stories that appeals to each person's experience with their own pets---its a great bonding.

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  12. I'm so happy for Nelly's safe return and I'm glad that I can blog again and wish you and all your cats well.x

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    1. Yarrow; Your love for animals comes through in your beautiful art--cats, horses, dogs--they get such a grip on our hearts!

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  13. O my goodness, I am so, so elated reading this. I remember telling you of a couple of cats that I knew who eventually reappeared and I'm so pleased for you and Nellie. Everytime mine go out, especially Rupert who ventures the furthest my heart is in my mouth and I say a silent prayer to bring them back safely.
    My evening will be all the better for reading this post.
    Hugs
    Briony
    x

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    1. Briony; I hope none of your feline pride decides to take a three week walk-about! It sounds like Rupert is your most adventurous one. Keeping cats strictly indoors is surely the only foolproof way to keep them safe, but if they have had outdoor privileges they don't accept the change very well.

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  14. I am thrilled to hear that Nellie has come home at last! What a relief!

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  15. DW; I think Nellie's return has brought joy far beyond his own doorstep!

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  16. I am so happy for you!!! Nellie's return reminds me of a day in November when just before the first snow part of our flock of sheep disappeared, and though Charles and the boys hunted for them in the hills they could not find them. Spring came and I was doing dishes, looking out the kitchen window, when I spied the ram, leading what was left of the flock home, including new lambs. In later months we found traces of sheep's wool on bushes and surmised that was where they had wintered. Moral of the stor is to never give up, I guess! Pleased for you and for Nellie!!!

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    1. How marvelous that the sheep would survive a winter untended in your climate--and to come home with new lambs!

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