Before I left for NY, I was filling the cat food bowl when I realized that I hadn't seen Phoebe for a couple of days. Phoebe is our orange cat with half a tail:
She spends about 99% of her time outside by choice. We've tried so hard to keep all of our cats indoors, but Phoebe's heart lives outdoors, so we gave up even trying to keep her in. She comes in the house about twice a day for just a minute to scarf down some food, and then she heads back outside.
But I realized on Tuesday morning that I hadn't let her in for a couple of days. I decided to ask Jerry if he'd seen her, but I was so busy getting ready for NY, that I forgot about it. Until this morning. Jerry came home and Phoebe wasn't waiting on the porch to get in, like usual. I asked Jerry if he'd seen her, and he realized he hadn't seen her for days.
I knew, at that moment, that she was gone. She never stays away this long (four days and counting). Jerry and I both figured she got in a fight in the woods across from our house where she likes to hunt mice, and was probably killed by a coyote or shot by a hunter or something. We told the kids that someone probably took her, because she's so pretty (you know, with the half broken tail and all...) and they were a little upset.
I asked Jerry to go look for her body in the woods when he was done sleeping. I thought about her through breakfast, and decided to just go out in the woods by myself to look for her. I wore my bright orange coat so I would hopefully not get shot; and I started walking back there. There was SO much brush and weeds and trees, and it was hard to get through it all. Not to mention that all the leaves are the same color as Phoebe, so it would be hard to spot her body on the ground. I looked for about an hour, and found no sign of her.
When I came out of the woods, I was at my next door neighbor's house, so I cut across the yard to get home. I saw my boys' soccer ball in their driveway up next to their shed, and I went to pick it up. I started calling for Phoebe, just in case she happened to be somewhere back there, and I heard a faint meow.
I stopped and listened, and I heard it again. I started calling louder for her, and she answered again, but it sounded weak. I discovered that she was locked in the neighbors' shed! They weren't home, and there was a padlock on the door. I tried pulling and pushing on the door to make a big enough crack for her to get out, but I only got it open a small crack.
She sounded so weak and she kept sticking her paw out the crack to touch me. It was heartbreaking. I ran to the house and got a small plate and I smeared canned food all over it hoping it would stick to the plate when I turned the plate sideways to slide through the crack. It worked, and Phoebe wolfed down the food immediately.
|How sad is that?!|
I woke up Jerry, and he called the neighbor's cell phone to tell him the problem. Cory told him to do whatever he had to--break the lock, take apart the door, whatever. First, Jerry tried to break the lock:
That didn't work. So he ended up unscrewing the bolts from the door hinge on bottom, and pulled it out enough to free Phoebe. She was so grateful to be out, she immediately started purring in my arms. I noticed she had a puncture wound on her back that looks infected:
She immediately snuck back outside at her first opportunity, but she came in when the kids got home from school, and she's been sleeping on the arm of the couch ever since:
So we're back to four cats (three cats too many!) but I am happy that she didn't get hurt. I had been imagining all kind of horrible things happening to her, because she went missing on the day before Halloween (a.k.a. Devil's Night), and I know that some people hate cats enough to harm them.
Cory told us that the last time he opened the shed was on Sunday, the 30th--so she was in there without food or water for a long time! That cat is living on borrowed time, I swear. When we took her in, she had half a tail, a bb (from a bb gun) under her skin, and she almost died from the infection that we paid a small fortune to fix. She's a badass!