“Home is the sailor, home from sea, and the hunter home from the hill.”
With apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson, I believe that we can remove the sea from consideration in this case (Camp Creek down behind the back yard hardly qualifies as anything like “the bounding main.” It doesn’t even come up to the level of Lake Erie.), but this announcement is to make it known that Champ has returned to the domestic hearth here at the estate. This is his second excursion into the wild and return from same. Who knows why he goes off unescorted—and unbeknownst for a while, actually—then comes back and has to be persuaded to stick around?
The first time he apparently found a door unclosed while I was carrying things in and out of the basement. I never saw him go but I did notice that he didn’t show up at mealtimes and no amount of searching turned up any orange-and-white cat. No amount of calling caused him to turn up either, so I figured that we’d just have to struggle on with only two cats—Fuego and Bob. He also managed to get out of his collar. Maybe he was going undercover on a secret mission. Maybe he was looking for someone to buy him a new one so he could adopt a new personality, make new friends, join a new social circle, deal with paparazzi trying to get news-worthy photos for the tabloids. Signing paw-tographs is tough when you don’t have thumbs.
Anyway, after a couple of months, he showed up on the front steps and was induced to come inside—the big dish of cat food didn’t hurt, either. So we’re getting along with the three felines, doing their thing, whatever that was at any given moment. Then Miss Cutie Pie-Butterscotch-“Scotchie” showed up last Fall, and Bob met his untimely end, going off to that Big Lap in the Sky and a burial plot under the big tree in the back yard, complete with two memorial stones (one little one for his size, a bigger one for his personality). Maybe the changes were too much for Champ. A fault in the door to the back porch (didn’t close tightly) gave him another opportunity to head out into “the wild blue yonder”, so to speak, and he took it.
So there we were, back to just two cats. Then, one evening I looked out and there were two kittens (ginger-orange-white and crazy-leg calico) on the porch…and under it; they could disappear up and over the apron around the porch down to the open space beneath, virtually inaccessible to any creature bigger than they were. Nice juicy cat food interested them. We were getting acquainted, then IBM (Irresponsibly Bad Mamma) showed up and was hogging all of the good stuff, so I had to get her filled up before there would be any chance that the little ones would get a taste. So, it’s getting late and dark and I think to myself, I think, “We can get together tomorrow and I will lure them into some situation wherein I can get them inside.” Big mistake! I have not seen them since. Totally gone, under the porch or on it. Still just two cats.
Then, one evening I’m fixing my supper on probably the last really warm evening and I hear through the screen door a sort of insistent meowing. Thought it might be IBM looking for another hand-out but when I looked out there was a patch of white showing (IBM is dark calico, minimal white spots). Stepping outside, I caught a glimpse of an orange-and-white cat backing away, still meowing and a sort of embodiment of the word ”skittish”. I called out for Champ and he stopped backing away; he did keep meowing. Food proved to be the enticement that worked. He got close enough to be picked up. I picked him up and brought him inside; this freaked the two other cats out. They growled and hissed; Champ just sort of stared (Cats do that so well.) and occasionally meowed some more. His voice has changed. We then took the scenic tour down to see where the litter boxes were and the location of the food dishes. Then I just left them all to sort out the up-ended social order overnight. I did hear him meowing some more but not a lot. In the morning he remembered about the food dishes and he found his old favorite resting places…seems to have re-grasped the litter box concept as well. This is a good thing.
Who knows where he goes to? He’s been—both times—looking perfectly well-fed, not injured or scruffy, at least not any scruffier than usual. Didn’t look or act as though he’s been mistreated in any way. Didn’t seem scared. Does not seem like a pussy-cat who’s come back like the “Hunter home from the hill.” He couldn’t hunt his way out of a paper bag or off a buffet table. Somebody’s been looking out for him, somehow.
Champ’s next collar will have his name and a phone number on it, in hopes that his benefactor will call. We’ll also try to make sure that he can’t get it off again. Perhaps a spy camera on the front would give us footage that could be edited for “Wild Kingdom” or he might star in “Catastrophic Adventures”; the revenue could furnish enough kitty kibble or Nepeta cataria to give this place quite the reputation for feline high-jinks. If he really is going off on jungle safaris or hot-air balloon flights or deep-sea diving, maybe somebody will let me know. Or not.
In any case, the Prodigal has returned. I’m still looking for those kittens.