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June 19, 2002: Elusive

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Our neighbors went to Ireland for two weeks and asked us to look after their indoor/outdoor cat. We've met the cat before - a very pretty, tiny gray girl with a long fluffy tail, who seemed perfectly friendly. She's a bit of a talker, and would come over to get pets..... when her people were there. It never occurred to them or us that there could ever be a problem with this!

They left last Wednesday. Our task is to let her out of the garage in the morning and back into the garage at night. There is no cat door because the other neighborhood cats come in to get her food and she is apparently a bit of a wimp and will not defend it. She gets plenty of water outside during the day, but she only has access to her food at night. You'd think this would be a reason to come inside, wouldn't you?

Thursday morning we let her out. Thursday night she came back in. Friday morning we let her out. And since then we have been unable to coax her back into the garage. Every day or two we see her, but she lays eyes on us and bolts as if we're going to trap and eat her. She's terrified of us!

We're going nuts. I'm worried sick about her. There are enough other cats in the area that we can only assume she is eating someone else's food - we *hope*. We leave handfuls of food outside the door, but we have seen other cats hanging around so we don't know if she is getting the food or if the others are.

Her people won't be back until next week and I'm really worried about the permanent effects this is going to have on the poor little cat. I know that they care for her and they would never have put her into this situation (nor would we have agreed to it!) if they had known she would react like this.

I have my own issues about letting cats outside, but this is not my cat and it's not my decision, so I must abide by what her people have chosen for her. The neighborhood is very quiet (cul-de-sac and dead-end street) so there is no traffic and at least it's safer for cats than some places. Still, that is no small comfort when this cat we have been charged to care for would rather be anywhere but home when her people arenít there. And this only underscores, yet again, why it is that my cats are indoor only. At least there are only a finite number of places for them to hide inside a house and they can always be found eventually (although sometimes it takes a bit of work). Outside, there are too many other yards, too many other garages, too many spaces where they can disappear.

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