It is every pet sitter’s nightmare: losing a client’s pet. The death of an already-sick animal while on your watch is no picnic, but it pales compared to the terror of having a client’s cat or dog escape the house or yard, seen or unseen.
So you can imagine my distress when one of my sitters called me yesterday morning, saying she couldn’t find one of the client’s cats anywhere. She’d been looking for half an hour, and this is one of those 200 year old houses without a lot of hiding places.
I called a family member who knows the cat well. She looked too…no cat. I went over and looked…no cat. By mid-day yesterday I had probably lost a year or two from my life span.
My husband reminded me of another situation many years ago, with a tiny little three month-old kitten. The fabulous bundle of fur was always underfoot; you had to be careful where you stepped so as not to stomp on her. On Christmas Day, however, she was nowhere to be found. A lovely Golden Retriever shared her home and went out to the back yard, and it wasn’t hard to imagine this orange baby cat going out under cover of the Golden, despite our vigilant eyes. We spent hours looking for her, inside and out, on a very cold day with sub-freezing temps predicted for the night.
Midday I had to call the cat’s guardian and ask her for any ideas about hiding places. Calling someone on Christmas Day to tell them you can’t find their 3 month-old kitten…not my favorite day. It wasn’t until that evening that that the kitten peeked through the basement cat door: “Are you looking for me?” She had found a tiny hole in a wall under the stairs and crawled in for her Christmas nap. It was hard to decide whether to hug or strangle the girl, but we settled for making a relived phone call to her “mom.”
I so hoped that the story would turn out to be the same with our missing cat yesterday. After making several trips, I decided to sequester the other resident cat in the master bedroom, where she pretty much lives anyway, and leave food out overnight for our AWOL cat, along with her litter, and went home for a restless night’s sleep.
You can imagine my relief this morning when I arrived to find the food eaten, and poop in the litter box. (Pet sitters spend so much time considering poop and pee…amazing how excited we can get about the stuff!) I have no idea where she was hiding. Like so many cats, she is a master hider. But we know she’s there, and that is better than imagining her outside right next to a very busy road.
It’s been about three years between the missing kitten and this latest cat. It would be okay with me if the next missing cat is at least another three years away. No one has actually escaped from us in all the years we’ve been in business (knock on wood), but these two kitties each took at least a couple years off my life. Maybe I’ll start putting bells on all the cats we pet sit!