My AWOL Cat Came Back!

Well he didn’t actually come back: was captured more like it.

Fisher, my indoor cat, had been gone most of the week. He’d never been outside, but somehow got out of the house five nights ago. I’ve no idea how; didn’t even know he was gone till next morning.
First step was calling and calling, and looking in every back yard and shed and possible hiding place. After that, of course, the Lost Cat Poster. I went all over the neighbourhood posting. Postering is harder than it seems, especially with a roll of packing tape that keeps sticking back on itself, and a pile of posters that keep threatening to blow away on you. It’s tricky balancing the scissors, poster and tape mechanics. Then more calling. No luck.

Fisher and my son Julian, Pre-Great-Escape

The second night, my neighbour saw Fisher on the sidewalk. Two dogs started barking just then, and scared Fisher under the porch. That was sort of good news. We knew where he was.

The porch space spans underneath the front of two houses and the only way in is through a small 2 foot by 6″ gap under the stairs. I became very familiar with this little gap under the stairs over the next 4 days, twisting myself into a pretzel, attempting to crane myself into spying position, while balancing a flashlight and a plate of food. My knees complained, while I cajoled. I was having no luck and I began to wonder if he was still even under the porch. There was no way of actually seeing inside.

Days and nights are running into each other now, but it went basically this way: in the day I would call in through the hole, offer food, and wait for awhile, without success. My friends on Twitter gave helpful advice and encouragement. One, Mr. B. Goodnick even suggested making the sound of ball of wool. Believe me, I tried!

At nights, same thing, but we also got out the flashlight. My son trained it through the small latticework at one end of the porch. Through the teeny opening he spotted two shiny eyes. Yay! Something was under there, at the far end in the corner: maybe Fisher. Another night we coaxed him far enough so I could touch his fur–then I was sure it was him. Next instant he zoomed away. The next day, he actually stepped out of the gap for a second, towards some food, and I grabbed him but he stiffened, hissed, scratched me and jumped back inside the gap again. Curses!

I woke up at 3:30 one morning and thought, well it’s quiet, he may be brave enough to come out now. I bundled myself up and sat out there for an hour, going through all my strategies, calling for awhile, then being quiet, waiting, calling again, and nothing worked. I got cold while I started to hear the first peeps of the dawn chorus, and the city slowly waking up.

Following morning I tried offering food on a long spatula/salad fork contraption I taped together. Nothing was working. I left the contraption there, balanced with a rock, with a tiny bit of food on the end. I was beginning to think I was simply going to be the owner of a Cat who Lived Under a Porch Forever. After four days of worry and cajoling, I started to feel quite put out that my cat didn’t trust me enough to come to my voice, even when I was holding food. I was turning into the Glenn Close of pet owners thinking, “I’m not going to Be Ignored…!”

My family and I started scheming en masse. After a busy week when we all had places to be during the day, we got together to form a CAT SWAT team. My brother in law unscrewed the lattice at one end of the porch, opening it up completely. My sister Helen stood by the gap with a blanket. I stood at the open end with another blanket, and a plate of food (not needed – he was too scared to think of food by this time) and my brave nephew crawled on his belly into the dirty, rocky porch space. Fisher was in the far opposite end in the corner. Brother in law got the idea to scare him out using the hose. My neice also banged on the opposite end of the porch to scare him down to our end. The banging and the water spray actually got him to budge from his spot. Fisher started moving down toward the open end, but then suddenly he darted out through the middle gap at supersonic speed and pell-mell down the sidewalk. He ran like a mad thing.

Then, like Keyser Soze, he just disappeared.

An out of the fire into the frying pan situation. I started thinking that it wouldn’t have really been so bad being the owner of a Cat who Lived Forever under the Porch as I went up and down the street, calling into people’s driveways and gardens. I was thinking the worst, that I’d really never get him back now. At least I already had the Lost Cat posters up.

Then suddenly, in someone’s back garden, he darted out and I ran towards him. He dashed away from me and—yes, ran right underneath someone’s deck, wedging himself right in the farthest corner. I yelled down the street to the rest of the family to come, and they came running. Thank god Fisher picked that particular neighbour’s garden to run to, because the deck was just high enough for me to crawl underneath, with a little difficulty, and balancing myself over bits of scrap wood, nails, and raccoon poo, I was able to get right to him. To my immense relief, he let me grab hold of him and I held onto him very tightly, while the neighbour, who had come outside to see what the commotion was, ran inside to get a cat carrier. Thank goodness he had one. Also thank goodness that there was a sizeable gap between the deck and the edge of the house, big enough for me to pass my wet and dirty cat up through to my neighbours’ hands. He stuffed him into the cat carrier, and made the happy end to my AWOL cat story.

Upon getting home Fisher ran immediately to my son’s bunk bed and started rubbing his cheeks all over the wood, purring like a banshee. I think I was purring too.


  1. Has he settled now? Wish they could tell us what happened!

    Once our cat came home covered in green slime -fell in the pond during a cat fight??? We had to wash him, and he HATED that! Another night he came home, collapsed on the kitchen floor, exhausted, and took a while to recover. What happened??

  2. Makes you want to be able to install a "cat cam" to see where they go, doesnt' it? Hmmm, maybe some time in the future….

  3. I am so pleased Fisher is back. He must have been so scared to hide away all that time. Well done catching him and please tell him never to do it again. He had us all worried!

  4. You're the second person I've heard of lately to loose a cat. At least it's been found! Apparently in spring they're just ready to run for the door.

  5. Don't you want to hear this whole tale from Fisher's point of view? I'd also like to hear the story of Charlie, the cat who disappeared from New Mexico 9 months ago and showed up this week in Chicago. I have heard of cats who maintained two separate homes and families (sort of like bigamists), disappearing from one for weeks or months at a time while they renewed their ties with the other family. Cats consent to live with us, but they never really belong to us. -Jean

  6. Poor Fisher! He must have been scared to death. I'm so happy for you that you found him and that he survived his adventure unscathed. 🙂

  7. Can't you hear the collective sigh of relief throughout Twitterland, now that Fisher has decided to leave the land of Not All Who Wander Are Lost. I hope he decides to be like Spunky Boomerang, who was so grateful to be rescued as a wee small kitten that he has vowed never to go outdoors again–and has only done so once in nearly six years, and that was an accident, and he was terrified–on the back deck, happily, not under it. He sends purrs and catnip and ear-washings to Fisher. But not hummous. He's not sharing his. 😉

  8. Thanks everyone for the Fisher well wishes. He's sleeping and purring now like nothing ever happened. I certainly hope he's learned to stay indoors where the comfy chairs and bowls of Fancy Feast reign surpreme.

  9. Phewwww Sarah, what a relief. Hope Fisher thinks: Never again!

    Glad you got him home safe and sound but it was quite an adventure getting him back. 😉

    The Bliss Team sends soothing purrrrrs to Fisher and you.

  10. Hi Sarah – what is going on this year? My daughter's cat and my stepson's cat both dissappeared for a while this year before both coming back. And now Fisher too. Weird. Thankfully neither of mine has wandered off (yet). Thank goodness Fisher is home now. He must have been as scared as you were.

  11. Oh my, I'm totally exhausted and I've only read about your machinations…not endured them! Good-o, your perseverance paid off.
    Fisher looks like a gorgeous, if incredibly neurotic cat that once lived with me. 'Cara' had lived with the family of a doctor, and she was used to having her own room with 2 litter boxes.
    It's a long story….. but let's just say that after 2 years the princess returned to her very large home in the suburbs where she ruled the roost from, yep, a room of her own. Maybe by that time she had 3 litter boxes, but even then, she preferred to use the carpet in between;-)

You might also like