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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lost cat?

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I'm not really a cat person. (Actually I'm not really an animal person at all.) But about 18 months ago, I agreed to chaperone a Girl Scout field trip to the Humane Society and there was this little gray kitten there named Smokey.

For some reason, I couldn't stop thinking about this kitten. About two days after the field trip, I was still thinking about Smokey and how his days were probably numbered. So I took Mike to the Humane Society and showed him the kitten.

For some crazy reason, we decided to adopt Smokey. "Cats are a whole lot easier to take care of than dogs," I reasoned. Plus, we felt the lesson in responsibility would be good for the kids. Their first responsibility was to re-name the kitten. They chose Dungy after the then-coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Even though Dungy had been a stray, we decided that he would be an indoor cat. So we had his front claws removed to protect our furniture. And for several months, we were all very happy. Then spring arrived and Dungy began crying to go outside. I had no idea a cat could meow so loudly and so persistently. So we let him out.

At first Dungy stayed in our yard. Then he started venturing to the house next door, often meowing to be let inside there. They often obliged. Guess it takes a village to raise a cat, too.

About nine months after Smokey became Dungy, I got a call from a neighbor a few houses down. She had painters at her house and they'd left the front door open. Dungy took that as an open invitation and wandered into her house. She was newly pregnant and worried about being around a cat, so I quickly went and retrieved our feline trespasser.

Since then, Dungy has gotten more adventurous in his escapades, going as far as a block away. I know because every couple of weeks we get a phone call from someone the street over asking if we've lost our cat, saying they've got him. Sometimes instead of a call, civic-minded little girls come walking up to our front door, errant cat in arms.

All of this is a little confusing to me. I thought the whole point of having a cat was that they didn't need a leash or a fence. I thought opening the door and letting them roam was what you did with cats, that they'll come home when they are ready. If that's true, then why do people keep calling asking if our cat is lost?

So c'mon cat people (and cat haters), enlighten me. Should I not let him outside any more? Should I take off his collar so people quit calling to tell me he is alive?


Shannon @ Gabi's World said...

I was never a cat person either, then my husband came home with Fat Kitty (originally named Jersey). She is also from the humane society, declawed, an indoor cat, and meows like crazy to go outside. The difference is that she DOES stay in our yard. Of course, she couldn't keep her girlish figure if she was walking all over the place now could she? She usually just wants to hang out lying in the sun in my flower bed and eat a few blades of grass (for digestion of all that food she eats!)

Now, I used to freak out every time she slipped outside because of her being declawed (can't defend herself), but there really isn't any animals unleashed around here. Our neighbor let's his dog out the front door unleashed, but that dog is as lazy as he is. The dog goes out (only on his lawn), does his business, and is right back in the house with his owner who only walked as far as the front door. So obviously that one won't hurt him either.

Ok, after making a post in your comment section, let me get to the point. I think the reason you get these calls is because it's little girls returning it, who love to feel like they've done a good deed. So they feel like they have saved your cat and your heartache. :)

Joanne said...

My good friends always had two cats. One adopted my husband and would only go home to eat (I never fed the cat). I used to take care of them when they were away and usually agonized if I couldn't get them in at night. We lived on a ravine and shared our space with coyotes.
Again I am not sure why people feel the need to return the cat -- I see cats all over the place and have no idea where or who they belong to. Dogs are a whole other story. One of our dogs roamed all over (in the late 60's - he died of anti freeze poisoning - -because we let him wander). My other dog wandered too but because of this day and age and traffic etc she was never allowed outside alone. Funny the two that wandered lived into their teens -- the one I protected died of cancer at 9.

Sticking to grandpuppies now -- no responsibility - ok less responsibility.

Sara said...

Being a cat person I just had to comment...We own 2 cats at the moment...1 is strictly an indoor cat, meows if she gets dragged outside by my 6 year old and the other LOVES to go outside. In fact we have to be very careful cuz she will sneak out the front door when it is opened..Sometimes she stays in the yard, sometimes she doesn't. But she always comes home eventually.
I think that people just assume you want your cat back...I donno. I wish when our cat ran out people would bring her back...
I do know its not uncommon to put a cat on a leash..That at least keeps the cat in ones yard...
Okay, so that was ton of rambling..sorry..I do know tho, if the cat wants to go out and always turns up again, weather it be on its own or by other means then you probably will not be able to keep it in the house...Trust me we have tried! Oh and by now most everyone probably knows its yours and so removing the collar probably wouldn't do you much

Anonymous said...


I am a cat person who reads your blog on occasion and just had to comment. As far as I am concerned and have been told by my vet, you _never_ leave a declawed cat outside. They are completely defenseless not to mention that without claws they cannot even climb a tree to get away from a predator. Secondly, please make sure your vet knows that your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat. My cat is ONLY indoor and there are certain vaccinations he does not receive because he would only be exposed to the diseases if he were outside.
Finally, people are bringing your cat back to you now, but one of these days they may be bringing him back to you in a box if you are not careful. Cats are notorious for hiding in the wheel wells of cars or up under the engine of a car because it is a warm place to hide. I'll leave it to your imagination what happens next. He could get hit by a car crossing the street too. That would be one big talk you would have to have with your cying children! I personally happen to hate it when some neighbor lets their cat roam so he can dig up my flower beds and poop in my yard. Better safe than sorry-- I would never let the cat out again.

Amy said...

@Anonymous -- Thanks for your comment. You bring up good points, many of which I've thought of from time to time. We did tell our vet that he is an indoor/outdoor cat so he is properly vaccinated. And the risk of not being able to defend himself w/o his front claws is real, I am aware. Not ever having cats before, I thought they were content to live inside. And when it proved that he wasn't, I thought it was "natural" to let him roam. We'll be more careful.

Thanks for being honest. Hope you keep coming back.