The low point of the vacation, though–and of this calendar year, really–came just before our return when we learned that while we’d been away, Alex, our cat (he’d been with me for the past ten years), had gotten out of the house a week after we’d left and hadn’t returned or been found since. For at least the next month we visited the local shelter every three days, hoping we’d find him there, but to no avail. It’s now been three months, and there’s been no sign of him; even though we’ve heard dramatic stories of cats finding their way back home weeks and months later, it’s hard to retain hope. Though active enough to make people think he was only three or four years old, Alex actually was fourteen, indoors-only, unfamiliar with the neighborhood, and had one bad eye. On the other hand, he was a gorgeous cat, extremely social and friendly with people, so a part of me hopes that maybe he lucked out and someone found him and took him in. I’d rather he’d not been lost at all, of course, but all things considered I’d prefer to think of him as comfortably ensconced in a safe, loving home somewhere.
And I can’t help but feel a little guilty; I hadn’t spent two weeks away at one time since I adopted him (I hadn’t taken a two-week vacation since 1996, in fact, and before that not since 1986). Even with a house- and catsitter, it must have been very confusing for him for us to have gone away. And with Jeff working from the house, he’d been used to having someone there nearly every day. He was always very curious about the outdoors, though, so when his sitter left for work that Monday and the door didn’t latch all the way behind her, apparently blowing open on its chain sometime before she came home, I’m not surprised that he went exploring. But if we’d been around that week, maybe he wouldn’t have strayed so far or gotten lost or scared, or whatever happened. Of course, maybe it all still would have gone just as it did. It’s the uncertainty that’s sometimes so difficult to accept.
Now, though, after three months, we’re also thinking about adopting another cat–or maybe even two. There’s a Maine Coon rescue organization in Oakland and San Jose we want to check out, and the San Mateo shelter with which we’re now very familiar. And, if Alex, somehow, still were to return, our hearts–and the house–are big enough for one more, I think.