Two things managed to disappear Thanksgiving eve: a portion of my bed’s new quilt and my cat Cora.
The night wound down like it would after any successful holiday feast. I was grateful to be wearing plus-size yoga pants, which were extremely forgiving after a smoked turkey dinner and all the fixin’s. Cora hopped up on the kitchen counter, and I scooped her up, waltzing into the dining room.
I wouldn’t see her again for 24 hours.
The house was full. Matt and I were eager to entertain, our first major holiday in our new house. Guests included Matt’s uncle, his cousin and her husband, along with their adorable two pups Tippy and Coochie. In addition to our dogs Charlie and recent addition Max, this brought the total dog number up to four for the weekend.
The activity was unusual for our normally quiet household. Especially with us smoking the turkey in the yard, there was a lot of traffic in and out of the house. It’s hard to know when it happened, but sometime that night, Cora quietly slipped out into the darkness.
We consider Cora an indoor cat, but always joked that she would know how to hold her own since she has 23 legendary toes. Meaning 23 claws. The rescue we found her at said she spent considerable time on the streets before we adopted her, so we think of her as a tough cookie.
Sometime well past midnight, I dragged myself to bed and conked out. Both of my dogs, Charlie and Max, curled up into me, a Jenga-like puzzle of paws, legs and fur. I fell into a deep slumber.
Until I heard something like fabric ripping.
I was sure it was a dream. But then I heard it again. I sat up, and turned on the lamp next to my bed. Max was down by my feet, with our brand-new quilt in his mouth. I pulled it away, only to find, not one, but two huge holes. Like the size of pancakes. All he needed was syrup. He literally ate the two holes, leaving no fabric evidence behind.
Having no idea of what to do, I took him outside for a potty, hoping he would barf up the fabric. I fell asleep on the recliner waiting for him to finish his business in the dark.
We felt our way back up the stairs, and I climbed into bed, carefully pushing the holes to the side of my feet. Max slept in his dog bed on the floor.
In the morning, I took note that Cora still was not around. But I soon busied myself with making two quiches for breakfast. After Matt’s cousin, her husband and their pups left, my mind returned to Cora. I figured she must be hiding because of all the activity.
I also kept a close eye on Max. I’m happy to report that he pooped throughout the day, and he ate both breakfast and dinner. My anxiety about a possible blockage from the quilt started to dissipate.
Matt jostled me out of my daydream.
“Have you seen Cora?”
I hadn’t. I checked her cat food. Not touched since the day before. Highly unusual since this cat does not miss a meal. Also, her litter box was not used in what appeared to be a day.
Matt and I split up, checking closets, the basement, under the couch, beneath the beds. “Kitty-kitty Cora!!!” we cried out, hearing nothing in reply.
“She’s got to be here somewhere,” Matt said.
As we left for dinner, I saw the weather would drop to 30 degrees this night. When she got out the day before, it was still an unseasonable 58 degrees. I imagined Cora huddling under a wet bush, shivering in the cold.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find her,” I said.
When we returned from dinner, I grabbed a strong flashlight and went in the front yard.
“Kitty-kitty Cora! Mew mew mew-mew!!!”
I flashed the light in the front bushes, and up an enormous oak tree. I called out her name once more, and waited.
Then I heard something. I thought it might be a meow, but I also thought I could have imagined it. So I called out her name again. Then I heard it loud and clear: “MEOW!” She sounded about 10 feet away, and I found her on the other side of my fence in a dog run out back.
I ran into the house, and told Matt to grab a towel. “I found her!” I blurted out.
Once I walked into the dog run, I called out her name. I couldn’t see very well, even with the flash light. I pointed the light in the far corner, where I keep the temporary chicken coop from when we first moved into the house. I stood still, and gasped as Cora walked out the front door of the coop. It had rained for the last 24 hours, and she was bone dry. The coop, still filled with straw bedding from the chickens, kept her dry and warm. I scooped her up, and put her into the towel Matt held out in front of him.
Once in the house, both Charlie and Max sniffed her and offered a warm welcome.
To celebrate, Matt placed her on top of the cat tree and gave her a handful of treats. She quickly gobbled them up, then casually licked at her fur, totally nonplussed by her vanishing act.