community spirit

When your house is five miles from a major city, and that major city is Washington, DC, you consider yourself to live in an urban area.

Or at least I do.

Cheverly (where is that?) is on a metro line, inside the beltway, dubbed “Capitol Hill East” by those Hill denizens who belong to our pool. Nestled between route 50 and I-295, it isn’t exactly Bedford Falls.

(Well, except for the wildlife. If I catch another raccoon, I’m making a Davy Crocket hat.)

Since posting to our little Cheverly listserve about the long lost Fluffy, I’ve been astonished by the huge small town calibre level of response. I immediately got a phone call from a woman offering to help. She sent me a link on finding lost cats, borrowed on my behalf the two traps I’ve been using (and gave me a tutorial on how to use them) and checks on our status everyday. People have responded to our “lost kitty” signs with concern, support and leads. And when the Cheverly Police called to tell me they took down said signs because posting is not legal, people offered to put yard signs on their lawns.

Yesterday, I received a phone call (and last night, a visit) from my Town Councilwoman offering her services to help.

And that’s not to mention the support all my friends are extending. From exploring abandoned burned out houses with me to walking/running the neighborhood with eyes wide open, everyone has responded in a heartwarming way.

I do believe I’m as overwhelmed by the outpouring of community spirit as I imagine Fluffy is by the Great Outdoors.


maximum capacity

We as a nation can’t seem to cut a break this week. The planets must need some serious realignment.

I have to admit that I’ve felt guilty not absorbing every word of news pertaining to the Boston Marathon bombing. I haven’t yet read Gabby Giffords’ reaction to last night’s failed gun vote in the Senate. A fertilizer plant exploded in Texas? Luckily I have NPR to tell me what I need to know.

While a lost cat seems trivial to all the tragedy that happens each second of the day the world over, it’s what I’m capable of focusing on in this minute. I can’t control whether a nut or nuts bomb an iconic U.S. sporting event (one that is dear to me in a city that used to be my home). I certainly can’t control how the U.S. Senate votes. But I can do everything in my power to find a beloved pet and return her to my devastated children.

While I believe as humans we have unlimited ability to love, laugh and show compassion, I also think there’s a maximum amount of sadness, fear, heartache and despair that one can shoulder.

So for this week, and hopefully it’s not even a full week, I focus my attention closer to home. I’m sadly cynically confident that there won’t be a lack of bigger issues awaiting my attention when our own family crisis is over.

three days and counting…

Tonight will mark three days since Fluffy disappeared. To keep my spirits up, I’ve been trying to think of it as “Fluffy’s Adventure in the Wild.” But each day gets harder, especially since I have to be the tone setter at home. When little boys cry, I try to remain upbeat. When they say they’re scared they’ll never see her again, I tell them to have faith. When my younger son showed me the “come home soon” card he made at school, I assured him Fluffy would love it and bit back the tears until after he went to bed.

Last night I set traps. The “humane” kind that don’t injure, just capture. I checked them every two hours during the night (and thus am on my third cup of coffee). My haul? A really angry orange tom cat, a skittish gray and white cat, and in the wee hours this morning, a raccoon. All were immediately freed, of course, and hopefully will be smart enough to not be lured back by the tempting scent of canned tuna.

Thank you all for your advice and support. I have talked to neighbors. Posted signs. Filed reports with DC and Prince Georges County animal shelters. I called my vet and the nearest vet to my house. Speaking of my house, yes I’ve checked every nook and cranny.

I love your stories of cats that have escaped and been gone several days only to be found close to home. They help and I remind myself (and the boys) of them constantly.

Tonight the kids are with their dad and I’m planning a full out assault. More trapping. Crawling in bushes and under houses. Checking the premises of a nearby home that recently experienced a fire and where a tabby cat has been spotted. It’s kind of far for a scaredy cat to travel by paw, but who knows.

Maybe it’s a chapter of Fluffy’s Adventure in the Wild.”


come home

Having three cats makes me borderline crazy cat lady. I completely recognize that. It’s hard to admit sometimes, particularly to men, that three purring beings live in my home. But there’s a pet heartbeat for each of us, so that makes it acceptable.

Except we are missing one of those heartbeats right now. And that’s anything but okay. Fluffy has been gone about 36 hours now, if I’m calculating correctly how and when she slipped out the door without my noticing. Of course, because I have three cats, I didn’t detect her escape right away. It was 3:30am yesterday when I realized the warm blob in her usual spot in the middle of my bed was her sister, Fang. By 5:30am when I woke not to the pesky Fluffy begging to be fed, I sensed something was horribly amiss.

(I know that by sharing that last paragraph I do indeed solidify myself as a crazy cat lady. But why does no one call people who let dogs, big dogs even, sleep in their beds crazy dog people? Dogs drool, shed more, and have the potential to take up a significant portion of bed space. And they don’t purr. But I digress.)

I went outside with a bag of cat food and for nearly two hours called her name. I sent a message on my neighborhood listserve. But time was ticking so I went to work and steeled myself for the conversation I knew I’d have to have with my boys.

I left the office early to beat them home, armed with Fluffy’s favorite wet food, “lost kitty” signs to blanket the block with, and a confidence that she’d come back by dinner.

She didn’t.

After teary kids went to sleep, I walked the perimeter of my heavily treed yard and my neighbor’s bamboo wonderland, flashlight in hand. In one heart-stopping moment, I heard a literal cat fight. Or maybe it was a cat something else. They can make some noise. Noises I’ve never heard from a cat. Not sounds I ever want to hear again. I broke it, up but neither feline was my Fluffy.

At 11:30pm, I threw in the towel. I set out some open cans of food hoping the scent would draw her home. Not even five minutes later, I looked out my kitchen window to see a fox eating the food. Hopefully he’s nice and full now.

None of us slept. Jack even climbed in bed with me briefly, something he never does. Colin – my cat whisperer – called out to Fluffy in his sleep, and woke up twice to ask if she’d come home. So I got up for good at have been outside since 5:00am, her favorite hour to eat, because we have to find her.

I have to find her.