I suppose I should return to this blog after such an extended absence with something profound, but I have been feeling decidedly less than profound of late, so a post about the return of one of our AWOL cats will have to suffice:
There is a similarity between Bink and me in that he checked out pretty much around the same time I ceased blogging, a week ago last Sunday. Either way, as is customary we let the cats out on the weekends to go get them some outside enrichment. Only this time at the end of their day lounging and/or predating, Bink decided he just didn’t want to live with any of us anymore. On occasions in the past Bink has pulled this stay-out-all-night stunt so for the first evening we didn’t think much of it. Nor the second. But by the third, Susan and I started expounding on theories that mostly boiled down to a combination of the addition of rowdy (and rapidly growing) pup Ranger and the continuous daily commotions caused by the activities of the painters who were onsite six days a week for what then had been three straight weeks.
Oddly enough though, Bink and Ranger had the most demarcated cat/dog relationship among our feline foursome. Whereas Ranger and Jiggy are often seen acting like siblings, and to lesser degrees the pup attempts that with Pepper and Pumpkin (who are somewhat less inclined but at the same time tolerant of the encroaching but nonaggressive dog), somewhere along the way Bink communicated it definitively to Ranger to straight-up leave him alone. And Ranger did. Though she’d target any of the other three cats for pouncing, if Bink was out on the open Ranger would be on her best behavior. Whatever it was Bink did, he made it crystal clear that inter-species play was not an option â€” a “hell to the no!” as Whitney Houston was fond of telling her now soon-to-be former husband Bobby Brown. And Ranger respected that. So that left just the ongoing activities and changes to the house’s exterior as being the prime culprit for Bink’s departure. That, and the fact that Bink’s reality is more than a tad bit different from the norm. I don’t say that derogatorily, just factually.
Bink never strayed far, preferring the backyard next door to his own we figured because of an accessibility to a supply of catfood. But as the days passed pretense over his coming back inside was eventually devalued, but not without the pain of feeling rejected. One of the last dedicated efforts Susan made to bring Bink in ended up with him coming warily to within arm’s length of her and when she tried to pick him up he ran away. With their history and how much she loves that cat, she couldn’t help but hurt.
The same thing happened to me Tuesday evening. I spotted Bink on the garage roof and hustled out with a bowl of food and the container of snacks and sat down about 15 feet from him just calling his name and talking soothingly and gently shaking the food bowl and treats to try to draw him to me. Thankfully he didn’t look the worse for the ordeal, which confirmed that he’d had some access to food next door, but at the same time, he looked plum tuckered out. After about 15 minutes of this all of a sudden he hopped down off the garage to the slope and with only minimal hesitation proceeded to come toward me until he was about six feet away. I lobbed a Pounce treat that landed before him and he ate it, then moved forward a couple more feet. I lobbed another and again he moved to me, coming to just beyond the reach of my outstretched hand. This time I held out another treat in my fingertips and he leaned forward and took it. The next treat I held in my hand but didn’t fully reach and he moved to it. Another like this and he was now sitting next to me. But rather than risk a grab gone wrong I opted to reach over and try to pet him. The moment my hand touched the back of his neck he was running away down the front steps to the sidewalk. By the time I got down there he was out of view. I choked up a little. I had been so close to coming through that front door with Bink in my arms to present to Susan, and now we were back to square one. Hell, square zero.
Though I hoped for a replay last night, Bink stayed completely out of sight and I felt the resignation deepen within me. Maybe this was how it was going to be from now on with Bink on the risky fringes of our life rather than directly involved.
Then after cleaning out the cat litter box this morning I stood up by the closed back door screen and bang there was Bink not three feet away looking at me with his huge eyes. Susan was at the kitchen island feeding the cats and pup their breakfasts.
“Well hey there Bink!” I couldn’t have been more surprised if it’d been Jimmy Hoffa sitting there. Susan was quick to hand me the canister of cat treats, and I knelt down and opened the screen door. Bink made a move to run off but I tossed a treat out and he gobbled it up instead. Then I tossed one not as far and he moved in to get it. Susan asked if she should try to come up around the side of the house to the backyard and startle Bink enough to get him to run inside (a tactic that had worked previously) and I nodded and she broke for the front door. Then it just became a race to see if we could execute the flanking manuever before the pup or cats finished their food and came toward the backdoor. Bink took the next treat from my hand, straddling the threshold of the doorway, torn between coming in or running away, and sure enough Ranger finished her grub and started coming toward me. Then she saw Bink and remarkably stopped dead in her tracks and even sat down.
With Bink a foot away eating yet another treat I fought the impatient urge to grab at him long enough to hear Susan open the backyard gate. That sound alone was enough to get Bink to charge into the kitchen to the bedroom and his customary place under the bed.
What a relief!
It’s a couple hours later now and Bink’s come topside. I nuzzle him and scratch the back of his head and neck and he purrs deeply as if this extended absence never happened, as if he hasn’t been out there on his own for the last 12 days. I can only wonder at what it is in his mental make-up that forces him to deny this love for so long.
But none of that matters now. The Bink is back and I guess so am I.