Ever take something for granted? And when you think it might be gone, you realize what you had? This happened to me this week when my cat Rocky disappeared. That’s when I realized something important.
Our house feels different without pets…even though they can be challenging.
Like our dog Simon who passed recently, Rocky’s old and sometimes goes to the bathroom in the wrong place. I find myself grumbling, picking up his mess, wondering why I have animals.
But this week he went missing.
It was the morning after the Super Bowl. Rocky wasn’t there for breakfast, his favorite meal.
At first my husband and sons weren’t alarmed. He’s disappeared before, once for two days inside the house, and we still have no idea where he hid.
But this time, by afternoon I started worrying. Something felt off. My husband, sons and I searched under every bed, in every cabinet and every closet. We called his name. We rattled his food bag. We pored over every inch of the basement and even the attic.
But there was no sign. The cat had vanished.
That night I put food in Rocky’s bowl, hoping to lure him out of hiding. But when I woke that second morning it was untouched.
I looked around the kitchen. The house felt different…emptier, quieter. There were no insistent meows, no kitty rubbing against my leg in morning greeting.
For the first time in 26 years, we had no pets.
I looked out the window. Snow was falling. And that’s when I had an awful thought. Could Rocky be outside?
Sunday night we had had a super bowl party with people coming in and out. Could the cat have slipped out the door? It made no sense. Rocky hasn’t been outside in five years, let alone on a cold winter night.
That morning I put my coat and boots on and walked the yard, shivering as snow fell, calling his name. But again, there was only silence.
At that moment I realized this might not end well. I came back to the house, dejected. All the reasons I love Rocky came to me.
I love scooping him into my arms like a furry baby and kissing his nose.
I love how he makes me laugh, usually just by being himself. Cats are narcissists, giving them an odd charm.
After a long day, I love that I’m the lap he climbs onto. He’ll knead (sometimes painfully) until he’s settled. Then he lies down and gives a slow blink, the feline equivalent of a smile.
The worst scenarios played through my mind. What if Rocky was attacked by an animal or froze to death? What a horrible fate for our sweet kitty of 13 years.
My husband Randy, son Patrick and I tried to piece the puzzle together. But then Patrick had a thought. We have a small goldfish pond in our back yard. Next to it is a low deck, about nine inches off the ground.
Could the cat have run out the door and gone under that deck for shelter?
It was worth a try.
Patrick put on his boots and brought a snow shovel and flashlight. The snow was deep enough to cover the open space under the deck.
He dug some of the snow away, knelt down, and shone his flashlight inside.
There was nothing.
But then… a small movement caught his attention. A pair of eyes looked back at him. It was Rocky.
I watched from the house as he tried coaxing the cat to come out. But instead Rocky exited from the other side, trying to trudge through the snow, heading for the woods.
Patrick went bounding after him and I heard this low, guttural growl. Rocky didn’t recognize Patrick and was terrified. My son finally caught him.
The sight of Patrick bringing this animal home was so heart-warming and miraculous, I cried.
Besides being thinner, Rocky was okay. He had spent two nights in the freezing cold, part of it in a snowstorm.
If we hadn’t thought to look under that deck, he would’ve died. And we would never have known what happened to him.
This morning I was so happy to have this kitty meowing for his food. He rubbed against my leg as if to say thank you. He had been saved.
I’d also been taught a lesson. For 36 hours I had a taste of life without pets.
And call me crazy, but I didn’t like it. For all the mess, feedings, and sometimes chaos, I realize I need animals in my life.
From now on, we’ll just have to be extra careful on Super Bowl Sunday.
How do you feel about pets? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!