This was the last time I saw her. It was March 21st.
My cats are indoor-outdoor cats. Farm cats. I kept them inside for several days after we moved in then started letting them out again. Spice disappeared for a couple of days, until I heard her crying and pulled her out of a tangle of brush in a ravine. Diego was gone for about ten days. He showed up on the back porch one day as if he had no idea anyone was worried about him. I’ve kept him inside, snacking on cinnamon toast, since then. It’s not easy keeping ten cats inside the house. I’ll start letting them out again. Eventually. When I get over the trauma of losing them like that and am convinced they are fully settled in our new home. At one point, the three of them–Spice, Diego, and Sugar–were gone all at the same time. This was my Sackcloth and Sobbing Period. Then Spice and Diego came back. But Sugar…..
I thought I’d never see Sugar again. Then two days ago, my boys–who drive across the river ford every day to head to high school–said they saw Sugar across the river in a meadow. How she got across the river is a mystery, but they were convinced it was Sugar. Princess went up and down the road across the river giving out our phone number at every house and asking about Sugar. She found one man who said he’d seen her.
Yesterday, he called me.
“Your cat’s here right now.” He told me he couldn’t get near her. She’d run.
I jumped in the car and chased right over there. I pulled over on the side of the road in front of his house and jumped out. There was Sugar, running across his meadow. I called to her and tried to not run, afraid I’d scare her off. But she was already scared. She ran across the road and up a hill. I clambered (don’t you love the word clambered?) up the hill after her. I sat down, shook the can of Pounce I’d brought with me, and called her and called her. But by then I couldn’t even see her anymore.
Then the man yelled up at me that she’d come back down off the hill and run up the road.
I clambered back down and took off after her before I realized she was too far ahead of me and still running. I went back to my car and drove after her. About a half mile down the road, I spotted her again. I pulled over, grabbed the Pounce (and my camera, of course!) and called her.
She stopped on the hill and looked at me. I got out of the car and sat down on the side of the road in the dirt. I shook the Pounce can and talked to her and called her. And talked to her some more. I knew there was no use going after her. She’d run. I’d have to convince her to come to me.
But she seemed terrified, almost as if she’d gone wild, and she didn’t seem to recognize me. I raised her from the day she was born in the corner of my bathroom at the old farmhouse.
I didn’t care if I had to sit there for hours on the side of the road in the dirt. I was within sight of my Sugar. I wasn’t going home without her.
I kept talking to her, pleading with her, and then she started crying. And crying. And that’s when I knew it was going to be okay. She was crying. She recognized me. She was telling me how bad and awful and horrible it had been and how much she’d missed me. She started coming down the hill. And she kept coming till I put away the camera because Sugar was more important than pictures and I tossed bits of Pounce closer and closer. She ate up the pieces and came closer and cried and cried and I waited, waited, waited, till she had almost climbed into my lap then I picked her up and ran to the car.
She didn’t really like the part about the car ride.
Home, she stuck her head in the cat bowl and didn’t bring it out for quite some time. She’s soooo thin, poor baby.
Then she looked around, as if reacquainting herself with her surroundings.
And I think she said something like, “Don’t ever let me do that again, it was terrible.”
Then she gave herself some serious down time.
My Sugar is home.