Oh, Callie, where wert thou?

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

Cats amaze, amuse and perplex me. It’s the reason I love them and also the reason they drive me to distraction.

Case in point: our youngest &uot;child&uot;, two-year-old calico cat, Callie. Callie was an extremely shy, half-wild kitten we gradually won over to our side and into our home. She had the same sweet and winning disposition of our late lamented tabby cat Mary Ann. However, she possessed considerable more smarts, thank goodness.

Also, Callie added a new &uot;look&uot; in our menagerie – I confess I always wanted a calico after meeting a friendly British one outside a flat in a posh section of London six years ago

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– and so Benny pronounced Callie our newest &uot;little darling&uot;.

(Don’t let him fool you. He’s as big of a softie when it comes to animals as I am, he’s just not as sappy, thank goodness.)

So, I ask you – when a cat gets to move into climate-controlled comfort, with plenty of comfy furniture to lounge on, not to mention a couple of beds to snuggle upon, regular kibble, cat toys and a giant scratching post, why would she choose to leave?

Not to mention the big screen TV with the occasional nature show to chirp over, along with two adoring humans she can literally walk all over – I mean, why would she decide to run away?

But that’s what she did one day as I was gathering my usual plethora of necessary stuff for work – just shot out the door without my knowing.

She’s actually raced out on the decks on a few other occasions, but usually the sight of our intimidating-looking canine Junior – or rain – or broiling heat – was enough to send her shooting back inside. Not this time.

Hours later Benny and I launch a search. We called. We searched with flashlights. We left all the floodlights on around the house. We called some more.

We saw neither hide nor hair of our Callie.

In a way, that was good – no sad little body crumpled beside the road where she’d been hit by a speeding vehicle. It gave us hope.

On the other hand, we have plenty of predators out our way. A coyote or a hawk could have whisked her away as they apparently had some of our other outdoor cats.

Benny and I found ourselves getting up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, looking for Callie. He’d got out at 2 a.m.

I’d prowl around at four in the morning.

We didn’t talk much about it, but every time I fired up my laptop and saw the photos Benny had put my screensaver, there was Callie looking at me with those big hazel eyes and I just wanted to cry,

&uot;Oh, Callie – where are you?&uot;

Then last week Benny spotted her while he was cutting the grass before she took off once again. My mother said she thought she saw her on her back porch one morning.

Finally, one night Benny comes tiptoeing into the den and tells me in a hushed voice, &uot;Callie’s on the back deck eating. Keep the noise down so we won’t scare her away.&uot;

Eventually Benny slipped out, sat in the chair and waited to make his own cat-like move.

She’s now back in the house, thinner but otherwise O.K. She can frequently be found purring in our laps and she's definitely enjoying that canned food. The little stinker is keeping very mum about just what she was up to for three weeks.

Cats – they drive me nuts. But I am glad to have my lost lamb back in the fold.

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.