I came home early today, leaving my friendly cubicle before 4 and commuting home, going ever-so-slowly through my neighborhood in search of a shy feline with a stripey coat.
"I kind of hate him," I admitted to Friend the other night. "It's too cold outside so he's brought a mouse inside so that he can torture the poor thing for longer." Then Sibling came over, suitcases in tow, and beheld the half-eaten body of a dear-departed mouse.
"I'm dropping it," I wailed as I hurried to the garbage, rodent corpse clutched in a wad of paper towels, bloody tail dangling from the mass. "Ew, ew, ew..." After I finished gagging, I cursed the cat - sending him off with a glare and refusing to make eye contact for a full 24 hours afterward.
I've battled to keep him inside though Chienne has joined Team Sprout-ness, dallying as she wanders out the sliding door so he has adequate time to dart past.
"Yes," I replied to the woman on the phone. "He's a short-haired tabby. 6 or 7 years old. Such pretty green eyes." She dutifully entered my information in a lost pet form and I sighed as I finished the conversation.
Sir Sprout would abhor the animal shelter so I was sort of pleased he'd not been injured, captured and taken to our (admittedly excellent) local Humane Society.
But it's so cold at night. And he'd been gone since Saturday evening, ignoring my calls and avoiding his typical hiding places all day yesterday and today.
"He only likes the indoor formula of Cat Chow," I wanted to disclose if he'd found a new family. "He loves to play dot with the laser. He doesn't trust men easily. Enjoys catnip and scratching posts but only if they're in places where he feels safe. And he likes to sleep in the sunshine."
Far less importantly, I kind of met someone. Who didn't call. And though I know cell phones should alleviate that particular torture, I still thought he might have tried my land line. So maybe I'd return home to a found-cat and left-message.
But it was not to be.
So I fretted over the cat, knowing I don't want another. I'm not really a cat person and had Sprout not selected us by hiding in my flower bed, I would have remained with dogs.
"Sprout?" I called again, opening the sliding door and peering outside. "Mr. Sprout-sprout?"
And just as I began to slide the door closed, I frowned. Because I thought I'd heard him answer. Not unlike his reply when I'd called a gentle inquiry when a kitten-version of the cat had hidden in my front bushes, seeking a place to live.
"Sprout?" I tried again, squinting into the darkness and beaming when he leaped up the stairs to the deck and scampered inside.
He even let me scoop him up to cuddle, rubbing under his chin and smoothing the dirt from his coat before I bent to fill his dish with kibble.
"I'm glad you came back," I admitted, leaning to pet him again. "I do love you, my silly Sproutness."
And now we return to our typical inside vs. outside battle routine.