Miss Kitty: She's gone, then she's not

Friday, November 4, 2005

Let's start with the good news and work backward.

After an unexplained two-week absence, Miss Kitty is home.

She is as bright-eyed and shiny-coated as when she left. But she has shed a few pounds.

I left the office Wednesday to have lunch at home after giving up on writing a column that kept fizzling.

On the way, I thought how empty it still feels to go home and not be greeted by a pushy calico cat who wants to be petted and held -- so she can share some of her thick fur -- and be fed, not necessarily in that order.

My wife and I were still mourning Miss Kitty, who disappeared while we were gone for a few days. My wife says she thought all along Miss Kitty would turn up just as mysteriously as she left. My wife suspects Miss Kitty was "borrowed" by someone -- someone who lives however far away it takes for a cat to come home in two weeks.

I, on the other hand, pictured more dire fates. I was on the verge of notifying the U.S. Postal Service that Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan were once again the postal patrons at our address. Miss Kitty gets mail -- credit-card applications, special deals on auto insurance and catalogs of every description -- plainly addressed to "Miss Kitty." My wife and I, on the other hand, only get mail addressed to "Occupant."

Miss Kitty isn't saying much about her disappearance, so I'm not able to share many facts regarding her whereabouts for the past fortnight.

(There! I did it!. I've always wanted to use "fortnight" in a column. Now I have, thanks to a wayward cat with a bald patch on the side of her face.)

Without explicit details, I'm left to speculate about Miss Kitty's adventure.

What reasons are there for a cat to leave a loving home where the food dish is, like the story in the Bible, never empty? Why would a cat abandon a roof over her head and a sheepskin sleeping mat? How could a cat walk away from the special treats she got every night when my wife pulled into to the garage after work?

I don't know. Probably never will.

But here are some possibilities:

1. Miss Kitty was catnapped. It's one thing to take a catnap. It's quite another to be catnapped.

2. Miss Kitty was trapped in a neighbor's garage. But our neighbors with garages reported no strange animals.

3. Miss Kitty's weight loss can best be explained by a two-week maternity leave. If so, what -- and where -- did she eat? And where are the little ones?

4. Miss Kitty followed us to Lake Michigan two weeks ago, found a spa and decided to stay a few days instead of coming home when we did.

5. Miss Kitty met a fella who wooed her with this tall tale about his catnip plantation in Florida. She figured out he was just another tomcat when he told her to wait in the Memphis bus terminal while he went to buy a pack of Marlboros. And, of course, he didn't come back. It's an old story.

It appears Miss Kitty will be keeping her own secrets. I've asked her repeatedly to explain. She responds by rubbing her chin against my arm.

So, my apologies to anyone who sees me. Yes, that's cat hair all over my clothes. Even though Miss Kitty knows the rules, I can't resist letting her in my lap whenever she wants.

And I have doubled my nightly dose of allergy medication.

Who cares? Miss Kitty has come home.

I hope she safely remains for a long, long time.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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