Monday, December 8, 2008

Missing Ella

Five days ago my cat Ella went missing. She is my favorite of all the cats I have ever had, and that’s saying a lot since she and her sister Golda were cats 12 and 13 when I brought them home three years ago. I picked up these girls at the pound in the fall following the summer that Mom passed over and all three of our outdoor cats were picked off one by one by a marauding bobcat at the Ranch. Ella and Golda are very indoor cats. They go out during the day usually, but always come in at night. Sometimes they don’t even go out in the daytime, but sleep all day long and play with their catnip toys for diversion.

Ella is a small child living in a cat body. She is too smart for her own good. Too curious for her own good. Too crafty, sneaky, scheming, perceptive, and detail-oriented. If she were a person, she would be an expert at office politics. But she is not a person. She is a small all-black domestic shorthair with a tiny face and enormous green eyes. She is the fluffiest, softest cat I have ever touched. She is a puffy cat, little more than a wisp of mischief.

Ella has many idiosyncrasies. For instance, she loves the smell of Ron’s feet. She squishes her little head deep into his bedroom slippers and chews on the lining. Then she pulls the lining inside out and rubs her face in it. Ron has to hide his slippers from her. It drives him crazy when she pulls apart those slippers. They were expensive and he depends on them to keep his feet protected when in the house. A diabetic, Ron must take special care of his feet. He can’t afford to have my adorable puffy cat tearing up and sucking on his slippers. Sometimes I think she knows exactly how to get under his skin and does it on purpose.

When we moved from the Ranch to the Villa, I kept Ella and her sister inside for a week to make sure they were acclimated and knew where they lived. The first night in the Villa, Ron assembled our bed. When he needed help keeping all the rails and boards in place for him to screw them in, he called on me and the boys. As I held a rail in position with both hands, Ella appeared and proceeded to nip my ankles for attention. I tried to shake her off, but she would not be deterred. I could not stop laughing and nearly dropped the bed rail. Ron was not amused.

I have been worried about the kitty girls in our new home. There are many cats in the neighborhood. My kitty girls had 40 acres to themselves at the Ranch. Cats don’t always make the transition to a new environment. Although we have been here for a few months, I know that they are still figuring out how to live next door to other cats and how to navigate the street, which is very quiet fortunately. I was worried the first night Ella didn’t come home. The second night, I figured she had gotten stuck somewhere, in someone’s garage or shed, and would come home soon. By the third night, I was alarmed and sad and started to wonder if I would ever see her again. On the fourth night, I couldn’t sleep and imagined her lying dead or wounded somewhere out of my reach. Sudi said, “Don’t worry Mom, cats wander, she’ll come home."

Yesterday morning she appeared at the door first thing in the morning! Unharmed, smelling a bit like fir trees, and hungry. Sudi said “I told you so.” After she ate, I held her and petted her for a long time. I’m sure she knows how much I missed her. But Ella will do as she wishes anyway, probably disappearing again in our new neighborhood. I hope she always returns. Her return reminded me that sometimes something we think is lost for good comes back to us.

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