Monday, October 9, 2017

Norton's October Adventure

I've spent all of Friday and Saturday fretting over this little fellow:  

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


I last saw him darting out of the balcony door as I sat down to dinner with my family on Thursday evening.  Our little friend Norton is both an indoor and outdoor cat and spends most of his waking hours in the garden basking in the sunshine and keeping company with another feral stray that took up residence there a few years ago.  At dusk, he makes his way into the house for cuddles and then onto bed.   Occasionally, he is nowhere to be seen when we turn in so remains outdoors overnight, greeting us first thing in the morning with a "meow" that signifies it is time for breakfast.

Norton failed to appear on Friday morning but I didn't think much of it.  However, by Friday night my usual sunny disposition took a backseat to an uncomfortably uneasy feeling that something was not quite right.  After fruitlessly searching the neighborhood on foot and knocking on neighbors' doors, my husband and I drove to the nearest animal shelter in case someone had found him and dropped him off.

I cannot express enough how terribly gut-wrenching that experience was.  Being guided through four very packed "Lost and Found" rooms of surrendered or stray animals while searching for Norton was nothing short of depressing.  Animals housed in the smallest imaginable metal cages, stacked one on top of the other, with no human contact ("No Touching Allowed" signs are everywhere), was more than I could handle.  I was moved to tears.  Asking the animal technician about those poor creatures, we learned that the animals are held for four days, then medically and temperamentally assessed before being "processed" for adoption.  Some, unfortunately, never see the light of day again.  The dogs were housed separately so I can't speak to them, but the animals we saw were mainly kittens and cats, rabbits and, would you believe it, chickens.  Frankly, I was taken aback - nay shocked - at how many grown rabbits had ended up in this pitiful place.  I imagine most were given to children at Easter and discarded once fully grown by parents coming to the realization that these adorable sentient creatures require care and attention and are not just trinkets to be included in their child's Easter basket.

I fully understand that animal shelters do wonderful work for the thousands of homeless animals and former pets that require rehousing.  However, the very fact they exist at all speaks volumes about our attitude towards animals.  I can only implore those that wish to add an animal companion to their lives to please consider adoption first, to spay or neuter (I shan't soon forget the sight of a nursing mother cat and her litter of kittens crammed into one of those metal cages at the shelter), and to know that animal companions are for life.  Some, in fact, are destined to outlive us so provisions for their care should be considered long before we've shuffled off this mortal coil.

Not finding Norton at the shelter was encouraging.  Perhaps he'd just strayed from home and lost his way and would take a little longer than usual to return.  By Saturday night, however, that glimmer of hope was rapidly fading.  He'd never before strayed from home for three consecutive nights.  Would I ever have the pleasure of seeing his sweet little face again?

Worry had kept me up most of the night.  Before anyone else in the household was awake, I headed outdoors to scour the neighborhood once again.  As I was about to leave, I was met at the door by Norton.  I momentarily imagined I had seen him, like some feline phantasm, but no, it really was Norton.  He let out his familiar "meow" greeting which was just enough to convince me that my mind was not playing tricks on me. At long last, Norton had returned, cold and hungry but seemingly unharmed. What a glorious Sunday surprise!

Chronica Domus
Norton safely tucked into his basket after breakfast on Sunday morning ...
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
...and, still snoozing later on Sunday afternoon
Photo: Chronica Domus


As I sit here at the breakfast room table tapping away at my keyboard on Monday morning, Norton is nearby keeping me company.  He's been indoors for over twenty-four hours and, I think he likes it that way.  At least for now.  I wonder what it was that kept him from us for so many nights, and where his travels took him, and what he saw?  I joked to my husband that his disappearance must have been a celestial trick. After all, Norton did fail to return home on Thursday evening, the night of October's orange Harvest Moon which, for those that saw it, was spectacularly large, hanging low over the night sky.

Whatever caused our dear little friend to take his leave of us, we are full of joy at his safe return and most grateful to be reunited.  I only wish those dear little animals at the shelter also find good homes to live out the remainder of their lives.  Our pets sure do have a way of giving us a few gray hairs.

18 comments:

  1. Our feline rascal has disappeared like this twice. Once he was gone for four days. When he returned, he was clean and no thinner. Can only think he spent those four days and nights with another family!

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    Replies
    1. Hello Stephanie Bell,

      Four days!! I was a useless mess in the knowledge that Norton was "gone" after 24 hours. You have nerves of steel.

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  2. CD,
    I was so relieved to read that Norton's adventure ended with him being home safe and sound. We live in a coyote-prone area so with our cats, adventures such as Norton's, were not an option. Fortunately we had an enclosed outdoor space (atrium) that enabled our Maggie to visit the outdoors within the safety of 4 walls.
    Happy autumn.
    Karen

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    Replies
    1. Hello Karen,

      Would you believe coyotes are moving into our area too but Norton doesn't stray into the hills just yet so I assume he was lost or trapped somewhere he should not have been.

      How nice that your Maggie benefits from an atrium. I'm sure she spends many hours absorbing the Southern California warmth there during the winter months.

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  3. Hello CD, The options for pets that are not lovingly cared for are shocking indeed. Your tour of the animal shelter was a heart-wrenching eye opener. It amazes me how people who profess to love animals will abandon them or otherwise let them get into this deplorable state.
    --Jim
    P.S. So glad to hear about the happy ending in Norton's case.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Jim,

      Yes, there are many self-professed "animal lovers" around but sometimes those individuals just need to admire animals from afar and not take on the responsibilities involved in actually caring for them.

      Although I've had occasion to visit this particular animal shelter twice before (when we adopted our beloved and much missed dogs), I couldn't bring myself to actually wander the rooms picking out a dog. Nope, I left that task to my husband. I just showed up when it was time to sign the paper and bring the dog home. And, that's the way I like it!

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  4. Whew! I know that the 22 hours that Connor was missing were just the worst. Luckily, he was only a few blocks away, and since it was a holiday, the Shelter wasn't open for me to check.

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    1. Hello Meg,

      I've had dogs run away from home too (those little rascals!) but it was always because one of them, Kylo, was the ringleader, and the other dog followed to reprimand him. Kylo was once taken to the pound and we got a call to come and get him but that's about as close to a missing dog as we got. Norton the cat, on the other hand, gave us a scare as cats are curious which often leads to trouble. We had no idea where he went in the three days he vanished.

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  5. Animal shelters are indeed depressing. All three of our cats were rescued from feral colonies. We had to promise to keep them inside and the adoption fee included the cost of neutering. However, in the past we did have indoor/outdoor cats who pulled the occasional nail-biting "all-nighter". While our current three are house-bound, they still manage to hide themselves away for hours especially when we try to take them to the vet.
    So glad Norton found his way safely back home. I don't suppose one can tell a cat "You are grounded for the week!"

    Best,
    KL Gaylin

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    Replies
    1. Hello KL Gaylin,

      Heartened to read that you were able to provide a home for three feral cats which, I believe, must be the most difficult to rehouse once they've entered an animal shelter. You have lots of patience, obviously, to take them on, to say nothing of your generous spirit. Well done! I've trapped, spayed, and neutered fifteen feral or abandoned cats in our neighborhood, which has helped cut down on the population of strays. Obviously, there's still at least one female and male out there which I've yet to find (Norton's parents!).

      Oh, and you are quite correct, I cannot tell Norton he's grounded, although we are keeping him housebound for the next few days for safekeeping.

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  6. Hello CD,

    I've never had the stomach to visit an animal shelter and find it particularly distressing when a pet is acquired on a whim, almost like a toy or a fun gadget.

    But I'm very glad to hear Norton's story had a happy ending. We've been in this situation more than once. One cat went AWOL for a whole week. We reluctantly gave up the search only to have her wander in the back door, skinny and hoarse. We imagine she must have been inadvertently locked up somewhere.

    A few years ago the BBC ran a fascinating program called 'Secret Life of the Cat'. GPS trackers were used to monitor several cats' movements around their neighbourhoods. I recall one owner being shocked to learn their cat was roaming several kilometres from home - every day. Here's a great interactive map of some of the data:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22567526

    Spud

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    1. Hello Spud,

      The only time I suggest visiting an animal shelter is when one is ready to adopt or, as in my case, when looking for a lost pet. Besides that, I would avoid at all costs.

      Thank you for the link and the recommendation of the BBC program, which I am looking forward to viewing (if able to) in the near future. I'm sure it provides a fascinating insight into the lives of our pampered moggies.

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  7. I want a cat but then these episodes for people who allow their cats out are what it seems to entail... I cried when my neighbour's cat died run over by a car. I don't know if i have the gumption even though i want a pet so badly. I have had to turn off the feed on many of my feeds about animals stuff bc it is so depressing that it actually affects me for the rest of the day after watching something about shelters. My friend rescued a french pit bull as they are so trendy these days so naturally the fall out is more rescues of this breed as are the rise of cockapoos in shelters...He adopted a 9 month old that was abused so then proceeded to bite everyone in this flat so in the end he had to let it go but the shelter told him to put it to sleep. I swear this was all so stressful. I am just so happy for you and Norton and wish cats could speak bc I am sure Norton was at some rave right??

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    1. Hello Naomi,

      I hear you! My childhood pet cat met the same fate as your neighbor's cat and, as I think back, I felt sorry for my father having to endure all the women in the household crying for weeks on end over little Ringo.

      Oh, and yes, Norton likes to rave with the local feral population. One of them has taken up residence in my garden since his arrival and I call her his girlfriend.

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  8. Oh gosh I'm so happy he turned up!
    Very depressing isn't it, to see the animals in shelters. We live in a University town and every spring there are abandoned cats running around, the students adopting them and then leaving them I've been told.
    We have two new cats living next door, Finn and Sam. They are real characters and were adopted by my lovely neighbours. Nice for me because my husband is deathly allergic to cats so we can't have any.
    Norton please stay close to home! XX

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    Replies
    1. Hello Dani,

      It angers me to read about the abandoned cat problem in your town. How terribly cruel as most of them, without help, will perish when the temperature plunges during winter. I hope the university takes a stand on this. Pets are for life!

      When Norton first showed up on the scene last year (he was born in the wild and exhibited feral behavior), we were torn as to what to do with him seeing as both my husband and I are allergic to cats. Once we'd tamed him, we found we had bonded with the little blighter so he had to stay. Our allergies, I'm happy to report, have subsided somewhat to our great surprise. So, there may be hope for your household too. The sneezing and eye rubbing is less so nowadays but we are wondering if that is because Norton spends a lot of time outside so there's less dander to deal with.

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