Lost Cat, Please Call With Sightings

I’m away from home, and I’ve been taking lots of walks. On day two of my amblings, I noticed a couple of signs had been posted with a picture of a black cat and the words: Lost Cat Please Call w/Sightings. There is, of course, a phone number.

When I’m walking, I look for the cat, but all I’ve seen are deer, woodpeckers, crows, small birds, rabbits, geese, ducks, turkey vultures, and two foxes frolicking in a farmer’s field. But I haven’t seen the black cat, so I haven’t used the phone number.

Several days have passed and the notices are still up, so the cat is probably still missing. I like to think if the cat had been found, the owner would have removed the signs. I leave for home tomorrow, but I expect to see the signs on my morning walk before I go. I hope the owners find their pet, but the longer the cat is gone, the less likely it will return.

Something might have killed the cat. It also might have found a new home. Cats have been known to do that. I had a good friend who gained a gray cat that way when it showed up at her house. While she tried to find its owner, she fed it and took care of it, and the confident cat made itself right at home. Then the cat disappeared for a couple of days. Then it returned, only to disappear and reappear again over several weeks. Finally, she discovered the cat lived across the alley and down a few houses. The cat, like a bigamist, had been keeping two families. Plenty of jokes were cracked about its behavior, and both of the cat’s families kept in contact in order to keep tabs on their mutual pet. Eventually, the cat dumped the other family and settled in with my friend. She felt badly and kept asking the owners if they would like their cat back. Sure, but only if the cat wanted to come home. They were pragmatic about the situation because it turned out that was how the cat had come to live with them the year before.

But that’s not much comfort to the owners of the missing black cat because they wouldn’t know if their pet was safe.

We had a black cat when I was ten years old. My mother brought it home. I’m not sure if it was because my siblings and I wanted it or if she wanted it. She didn’t need much prompting to bring home animals, and what little kid doesn’t want a playful kitten with a soft, rumbly purr.

My father wasn’t happy when he came home and was introduced to a black kitten named Lucifer. He claimed he didn’t like cats. Lucifer, sensing my father was his enemy, joined ranks with him. That cat greeted my father when he came home from work, sat on his lap when he read the newspaper at the kitchen counter, and curled up with him when he fell asleep on the couch. My father grew fond of Lucifer, the cat with a name that belied his personality. Dad had a soft spot for animals too.

Lucifer was full grown but less than a year old when he died. No one noticed that he was missing because he hadn’t been gone long enough. One of my siblings discovered his body floating in our above ground pool in the backyard. The sides of the pool were four feet off the ground, but cats have leaping superpowers. However, once he’d gotten in the pool, he was unable to get out.

We were all upset about Lucifer, especially Dad.

A few months later, the pool, too, would have a sort of death. My father flew skydivers, and one weekend afternoon, Dad and some of the jumpers thought it would be fun if a couple of them were to land in our pool. Boredom was probably the mother of this crazy idea because the skydivers normally aimed for a small metal disk in the middle of much larger circle of pea gravel back at the airport. I can picture the scales in their adventurous brains as they weighed their options: Same gray pea gravel, again? Or a Caribbean-blue pool filled with chlorinated water? Tipping the scale was the much smaller size of the pool, twenty-five feet in diameter, making it a more challenging target. The skydivers were thrill junkies. Besides, the pool’s water was only three feet deep. No one was going to be in over his head.

We lived out in the country on two-point-two acres, and our land was surrounded by sprawling fields of tall grass. So, if the skydivers missed their target, they had plenty of grass to land on. Also, my father had a certain reputation in the neighborhood, and if someone saw a couple of guys with parachutes drifting toward earth in our backyard, well, that kind of thing was business as normal at our house.

But like many good ideas hatched in the heat of a Saturday summer afternoon, this one was a near miss or a near hit, depending on your point of view about the half-a-glass-of-water personality test. One of the skydivers didn’t land outside the pool or inside the pool. He landed on the edge, crumpling the side. Skydivers don’t float like dandelion seeds landing gently on terra firma. They come down a bit fast, so part of their ground school training covers proper techniques for landing to avoid injuries.

The skydiver wasn’t hurt, but he took some ribbing for “riding the fence.” The pool was totaled because once metal is bent that badly, there is no unbending it, so my father dismantled it and took it to the dump. That fall we got another cat, a Siamese kitten we named Cleopatra but called Cleo. A few months later, sadly, she was run over by a car. We didn’t get another cat for several years, and we never got another swimming pool. My father kept flying skydivers, but there were no more landings in our backyard.

I hope someone finds the cat on the poster, and it returns home. And if not, I hope the cat finds a nice second home. I’d like to think of the cat as keeping someone’s lap warm.

6 thoughts on “Lost Cat, Please Call With Sightings

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