Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Cat Came Back

Long ago, back in our child-free days that I like to refer to as B.C., or Before Ciaran, my husband and I adopted our first baby - a cuddly little black and gray tabby kitten. Given our quirky natures, we named our tiny new fur-ball Dr. Acula - get it? Dracula? Well, we thought it was clever at the time. Anyway, our new pet really did live up to his name. After the first few playful months, that is.

In the beginning

He was as cute and mischievous as every other young feline. We changed his slightly sinister misnomer to a shortened and less threatening nickname of Acci. But then a change took place. One day the affectionate swats, nips and sweet little meows turned into fang-bearing hisses and deep guttural growls that seemed to be summoning something from the gates of hell. Pretty scary stuff. He'd stalk and attack us, taking pleasure in clawing and biting any bit of exposed flesh he could find.

Something had to be done

Being an indoor cat, we had him declawed, mostly for the sake of our wounded, scratched-up arms. After that, other than a few semi-vicious attacks, which drew blood on occasion, we managed to co-exist peacefully most of the time. He was like a child to us. A very temperamental one, but ours nonetheless. We had birthday parties for him every March 17 (yep - an extra special St. Paddy's Day for us!). I even bought him a Halloween witch costume, complete with cape and pointy hat. He did not find it nearly as humorous as I did.  

We clearly needed children

The day we brought Ciaran home from the hospital was one of apprehension, mixed with delirious new-parent joy. While pregnant, I worried about how Acci would handle the arrival of a new baby. After warding off another spastic cat attack during a midnight fridge raid, I seriously considered well, dumping him. How could I justify potentially putting my newborn at risk? I struggled with the idea of giving Acci away, wrote down all the pros and cons and finally decided, well, if he attacks me one more time...

A change has come

Luckily for all of us, Acci must have sensed that things were not in his favor. From the moment we carefully introduced baby Ciaran to him, something in that little cat brain of his switched to calm. It was like he knew he'd better start behaving and once again, I witnessed a major transformation - this time for the better. He became a completely different animal. He would keep his distance until Baby C's bedtime and then creep silently into the family room, looking around to make sure the coast was clear. No kid? Whew, he seemed to be thinking while jumping up beside me for a quick petting session. And, for the past four years we've lived free of any bad kitty drama - up until last week.

The not-so-great escape

Last Wednesday evening, Tony slid open the back door and - whoosh - just like that Acci slipped out and disappeared into the night. The worst part is, I didn't notice he was gone for two whole days! I figured he was hiding in the basement or curled up asleep in the guestroom. His usual hang-outs. As always, I was  too preoccupied with Ciaran, work or other everyday things to even bother checking up on him. Once I finally realized he'd never come in from his backyard jaunt, he'd been gone for two nights, most likely without food or water. On top of it all, for the last 24 hours it had been raining non-stop. My poor tamed beast was lost or... worse!

The Mission

After noticing that the food and water dishes we'd left out for him had not been touched, we knew more drastic measures had to be taken. He's out there somewhere, Tony insisted to my I have a bad feeling he's never coming home. If he won't come to us, we'll have to go to him, he said, pulling on his old running shoes and grabbing a broken umbrella. And, armed with a single piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken, umbrella thrashing in the wind, off he went in search of Dr. Acula.

Yes, that's right, KFC. Acci's most favorite thing to eat in the entire food kingdom. One sniff of that stuff and he'd meow and purr in a slightly deranged manner, rubbing his head against our legs until we'd relent and throw a bite or two in his direction. If anything could lure him back home, it was a delicious morsel of chicken coated with the Colonels secret recipe.

For an hour Tony roamed the neighborhood, peeking under cars and trees, chasing after any four legged creature that crossed his path. All the while shaking the piece of chicken like a madman. Pretty much normal behavior in this neck of the woods. (more on that in later posts). But, unfortunately, his efforts proved to be futile. He jumped in his car and circled our block for another hour or so, but still, no sign of Acci. We both kept watch out the windows for the rest of the evening, but in my mind, I'd come to accept the fact that he'd gone for good.

The Homecoming 

For no other reason than perhaps his kitty senses were tingling, Tony decided to check outside one last time. At two in the morning. He figured that was normally Acci's most active time of night and he may have come out of hiding to begin his journey home. And lo and behold, there he was, sitting in front of the door, sniffing at the air, meowing and purring insanely, rubbing his head against Tony's leg. Once inside, he chowed down on his chicken, lapped up some water and crashed on his cozy yellow blanket for the better part of three days. As chaotic as it sometimes gets, our house finally feels back to normal now.

Welcome home Acci - we missed you!


The Mayor! said...'re so lucky! We had 2 cats BC, one got hit by a car, & we went back to indoor cats....the other got out a couple of years ago, after a decade with us, & she never did come back...she always hated those kids taking the attention away from her! Then we wound up with 3 Himalayans, a mom, dad, & their baby...the mom was given to my daughter on her 1st b-day (she is now 9), but was SUPPOSED to be a boy, so the breeder gave me a male for free out of another all their years together they had ONE kitten, so we kept him. Mom ran away almost a year ago....we were out of town & the friend coming in to feed them had somehow let her get out, so it was 4 days before I was even aware & out looking. My daughter was devastated, & I roamed the neighbourhood for WEEKS, posters, etc. I keep telling her someone must have her, she was clearly an indoor cat, & a pure bred, someone gave her a good home. But she still asks Santa & The Tooth Fairy to bring her back....breaks my heart. But you just never know I guess, miracles happen right??!!

Pamela said...

Yes, we are lucky - I'm totally surprised he did come back - guess he stayed off the streets! He's definitely not so apt to run out the door now, so at least he learned a valuable lesson:)
So sad about your kitty & your daughter always asking for her:( But, you're right, you never know, she might find her way back home one day.

jesse said...

I also had a crazy cat...Fat Toni. We actually did dump him at the in-laws. But that cat was so crazy that we rarely feel even the slightest sting of guilt.

So good news! I love the image of Tony waving fried chicken around in the night.

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