One Week

In the grand scheme of things, one week doesn’t seem like much time at all. It’s only one of fifty-two in a year. A lot can happen in a week, though. People can get married, divorced, have a kid, or even die.

I’ve had my cat for five years, ever since she was only a few months old. She’s orange and white with a long tail. Her tail has darker orange rings going down it and she has some barely noticeable darker stripes on her torso. The white on her goes from her chin and on her underbelly, then jumping to her paws. She has an orange spot on one of her paws.

She’s been a mostly outdoor cat for most of her life. My mom thought it was best, since she doesn’t like fleas (don’t even get me started on this). When we got her from the shelter, her name was Dora. They had found her and her brothers and sisters wandering down a road with their mother. She was the last one left of her siblings. As much as I wanted her to stay an indoor cat, my mom insisted that she should be allowed outside.

From day one, I always worried that she would get lost or get hurt. She got bitten on the leg once, but it healed up. She is a very intelligent cat and knew when to run and when to fight.

After my parents divorce, my dad got married to my best friend’s mom. ┬áIt’s not as great as people make it out to be (she’s not my best friend anymore, but that’s another story). She got a black cat who decided she was the dominant cat, even though she was both younger than mine and had only just gotten there. She was aggressive towards my cat, but a sweetheart to people. Though my step-sister is unaware of this, my dad and her mom actually gave her away because of how that cat was acting towards mine.

Then, my step-sister got a kitten that was taken from it’s mother way too early. She was maybe two or three weeks old. She was really sweet when she was that young, but she was also dependent on us for survival. My cat didn’t really care much about her. My other step-sister, who is a lot younger, isn’t very intelligent when it comes to pets. She tends to be aggressive when she shouldn’t be. Therefore, that kitten ended up growing up to be vicious towards both people and animals.

And then, less than a year ago, they suddenly got a dog. I was away at school and no one said anything to me. I saw it on Facebook. My cat had only ever been around my sister’s dog and she was terrified of her.

I already knew that the only person who gave two shits about my cat other than me was my dad. Even then, he didn’t feed her enough or clean out her litter box enough. I came home for less than an hour a few weeks ago to bring stuff home from college and she was skin and bones. Part of that is because she eats for a few seconds and runs back outside. But it’s mostly because she doesn’t get fed enough when I’m not home.

In between visiting people, I stopped by my house to pick up some things for my summer class. I noticed my cat had an abscess on her back behind her shoulder blade. I showed my dad and figured out what he needed to do to make sure it healed. I wanted to stay and take care of her myself, but the person I was visiting for a week was waiting outside and they lived two hours away. After we left, after driving for almost half an hour, he suggested we turn around and I bring her with me. I said no. I really wish I had said yes.

My mom just moved into a new house with her husband of a year. My plan was that I would talk to them about taking my cat so she could be fed properly when I couldn’t be home. I still have another year of school and the apartment I’m staying in doesn’t allow pets. I was going to talk to her once I finally got home two weeks after school ended. I have been going to different places, like my brother’s, my sister’s, and my boyfriends house.

Then I get the text. Five days ago. My dad told me he hadn’t seen my cat in almost two days. I was with people having a pretty good time until that came. News like that always seems to happen when you’re having a good time. I wanted to drive back that night, but I didn’t have a car and I knew my boyfriend wouldn’t want to drive almost three hours that late at night. I kept asking for updates and hoping she would turn up. She had done something similar once before, but it was only for a little over a day.

Three days ago, I finally got to go home, but only for a few hours. I was house/pet sitting at my sister’s for the weekend. I got home and immediately went into the woods to call for her. It was a surreal experience. I don’t really know how else to describe it. I had done this so many times before and she would always come running to me eventually. This time, she didn’t. I went inside and found something that sounded like a canned food can to hit a fork against. She still didn’t come.

Maybe it was naive to think that she would magically show up just because it was me. She has never really been a cuddly cat, but I was always the one person who she would let hold her. It may be for only a minute, but she would always let me do it. I thought the sound of my voice might call to her or something. It didn’t happen.

Since then, I’ve posted on Facebook, hoping someone might see something. The local animal shelter also posted a missing cat post on Facebook. It’s gotten a lot of shares, but nothing has come of it yet. They did post it after they closed for the weekend on Saturday, but maybe they just haven’t listened to their voicemail on the shelter’s phone since then and someone called it in. Someone could easily have found her injured and be taking care of her.

Not knowing is worse. People always say that on TV, but you don’t really know how it feels until it’s you. When I went home to search for her, part of me was hoping that if I didn’t find her alive and happy, I’d at least find her body somewhere. It hurt so much when I started to think of that, but I just hate not knowing what happened. It hurts ten times worse. I don’t think I’ve gone a day since then without thinking of her and just sobbing. I can’t let her go, not when I don’t know.

And, of course, I looked to the internet for similar stories. Cats had come back months after they disappeared. Reading things like that only makes me hold onto hope that she’ll come back. I was going to call the local vet office, but they ended up being closed when I thought of it. I’ll have to call next week and see if she was brought in by anyone.

I already know that I won’t be able to live at home if she isn’t there. Everyone at my house except my dad is toxic to be around. Even he’s slightly toxic, but in the chain smoker kind of way. If she doesn’t come back, I’ll have to leave. Maybe I’ll come home for little bits of time this summer, but I can’t stay. I can’t feel completely alone in that house.

I feel bad for my dad. I know he feels guilty about what happened. He was taking care of her abscess, but it sounded like he didn’t put anything peroxide or anything to keep it clean. At the same time, he’s already given up on her coming back. He thinks some animal smelled her wound and attacked her. The logical part of my brain is saying that it is totally possible. The rest of my brain says fuck the logical side and says she’s fine, probably being taken care of by some little old lady and is trying to get out of her house every second to come home, but she won’t let her until her wound is healed. Which is what my dad should have done.

I also feel guilty. I didn’t go back and take her with me. Part of why I didn’t is because the place I was going has four cats and a dog, all of which my cat doesn’t like. Plus, she would have to be confined to one room the entire time I was there. I should’ve brought her anyway. Guilt is stupid. I wanted her to have freedom instead of being confined and she went missing. I feel guilty about it.

I could go on all day about this, so I’ll just say one more thing. Izzie, please come home. Find your way back home and I’ll be there waiting for you. Please, just come home.

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