Our beloved Luna is safe and sound and living, as usual, in the lap of luxury.
I was sitting at the kitchen counter, working on a to-do list, when I caught a glimpse of a dark smudge of movement at my back door.
The sleek little body
The orca's fin of a tail.
The reddish brown glint of the black sun-swept fur
I knew in an instant this was my Luna, and my heart nearly leaped out of my chest.
Calming myself so as not to frighten him, I cautiously opened the slider as I crooned to him.
Hi Tooney. I'm so happy to see you.
Soundlessly, fluidly, he flowed across the top step and wound his way around the house to the side yard. I followed, fighting back the urge to shout my joy from the rooftops.
Near the side door to the garage, Luna paused, still and alert, and posed under a pink rose bush.
I'm just going to pick you up, Toonus. Don't worry. Everything's okay.
My blood pulsed in my ears as I bent down and scooped him up. Surprisingly passive, he leaned into my shoulder and let me hold him tight. Then the tears which had been bottled up for the past four days finally flowed
* * * * *
Luna had been missing. For forty-eight miserable hours, we saw not a hint of him.
* * * * *
Our three cats, Luna, Sirius, and Cedric, are indoor/outdoor cats.
While we let them roam free outdoors whenever they so choose, the brothers are rarely far from home. Most of their outdoor adventures take place in our back yard, often with other cats from the neighborhood who come over to play or nap with them
They occasionally stray to our closest neighbors' yards to play with the neighbors' children and taunt the neighbors' dogs, but my three cats make a point to keep close to their food dishes. And barring the half-dozen summer nights that are so warm that they prefer to curl up in their garden nests and sleep in the starlight, my cats always come in at night when we call them, to sleep upon pillows, sheepskins, and the fluffiest of down comforters.
* * * * *
Sirius sleeps blissfully unaware in the bark while Cedric the chair hog hops down to investigate the photographer, and Luna is mesmerized by a bug crawling on the rocks.
I can only shrug my shoulders and say, maybe some cats are happy to always live indoors.
But if you saw my cats
leaping at elusive butterflies,
sleeping in the shadows under the day lilies,
surveying their world from atop the fence posts,
curled up in the vines on top of the trellis,
dozing on their favorite wicker chair,
waiting on the front porch for me to come home,
then you would understand that my cats' souls come alive when they are out of doors, and to deny them this freedom would be to break their spirits and consign them to lives of misery.
We realize the risks we take every time we open the door to let our cats run free.
We accept that they would probably live longer if we kept them inside at all times.
But a miserable life is no life at all.
So we let our cats go out.
* * * * *
Despite our worst fears, Luna showed no sign of injury or attack.
But he was definitely skinny and uncharacteristically passive.
Relieved and certainly protective, we whisked our prodigal son back into the house when we hoped he would stay safe for hours if not days, while we all recovered from this trauma. But as soon as we set him down in the family room, he circled round and round by the back door, pacing and yowling, clearly terrified to be indoors.
Luna must have been trapped, we surmised. Somehow, he must have gotten himself shut up in a garage or a shed, and that's why he didn't come home. And that is why he is so upset about being kept inside at home.
And we knew that as much as we wanted to keep him safe indoors, we could see that his little soul was in a panic.
Luna needed to go out.
And we needed to be brave enough to let him go.
So we all hugged him and kissed him and made him promise to come back very soon. Then we opened up the back door and let Luna go out into the night.
* * * * *
Epilogue: It's been three full days now since Luna came back. He is still a little jumpy and sensitive. He's eating often, though his meals are smaller than usual, and he's asking to go in and out of the house countless times a day.
We also notice that he is staying very close to the house.
And when we call, he always comes running back home.