Halloween Mystery: the vanishing cat

The orange tabby condo cat, Katybelle, who was rescued in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, is very sociable. When I encounter her around the complex I always talk to her and give her a scratch under the chin. Chloe, of course, loves her.

Today, the day after Halloween, she came to the patio door and meowed. Thinking maybe she was thirsty, I let her in, but she snubbed the offered water and just wandered around the house. I was lying on the sofa and Chloe was in the dining room. All the doors—outside and inside—were closed when Katybelle disappeared. I would have seen her if she crossed the living room to go upstairs, where Gary was—he’s allergic to cats and I would not have noticed and stopped her.

We searched everywhere, even behind doors that were tightly closed. We thought maybe she had slipped out of the patio screen door, but it was unlikely. We looked under furniture, everywhere a cat might fit, even upstairs, which is crammed with furniture, books, lamps and pictures from downstairs while we prepare for flooring and painting work starting tomorrow. While we were on our second go-round of looking under things, she just melted out of nowhere from the dim kitchen.

Gary and Chloe went outside so I put Katybelle out, too, and went back to lying on the sofa (I’d had a colonoscopy and was still a little groggy from the anesthesia). A few minutes later I heard the patio screen rattle. Thinking it was Chloe, I jokingly said, “Is that Katybelle trying to get back in?” It wasn’t Chloe. A few minutes later, there was the cat meandering around the house again. When Chloe came back she got some yarn and played with Katybelle until dinner, at which time I put the cat out once and for all.

She kept meowing at the back door. This cat is not homeless—her owner lives just behind us—so I guess she’s just lonely. I felt bad, but not bad enough to let her in. I locked the door and closed the blinds.

I wonder if, in another life, Katybelle was the Cheshire Cat.

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