When we moved into this house, 18 years ago, we had two cats, Kirk and Spock. (This tells you something about me, doesn't it?) Kirk, a beautiful, tawny long-hair of sanguine temperment, died two years after we moved in, when he was ten years old. I liked having two cats, to keep each other company, so we got an adorable calico kitten. We named her Elaine after my duaghter's first D&D character, an amazon warrior. The plan was to name the next cat Mast after my son's first character, a dwarf. (Now you know a lot about the entire family.) The further plan was that, our male cats regularly dying at ten years old, we would be cat-free by the time our son graduated from college and we were ready for heavy travel. Ah, plans, such lovely, ephemeral things.
Elaine, like many female calicos it turns out, is tempermental. This is a civilized way of saying she has a terrible personality. When Spock, a bunny-soft Himalayan, died two years later, I went through adopting a series of second cats. It wasn't that Elaine fought with them; I could waited that out until she adjusted. Instead, she simply spent more and more time outdoors, coming home less and less frequently for meals. With each cat, she began to go feral. I couldn't take the guilt. I found homes for each in turn until I finally gave up. Elaine wanted to be an only cat.
Not only is Elaine tempermental with other cats (although she does all right with calm dogs), she is tempermental with people. She is not cuddly and scratches with little or no provocation. She's 16 now and a little more pleasant, but not much.
Five years ago -- AFTER ELAINE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD -- we had the opportunity to live in Moscow, Russia for two years. Talk about travel! We couldn't store our belongings and rent out the house because OF THE CAT. We couldn't farm out the cat because she is so mean. We had to make elaborate plans dealing with a succession of house-sitters because of the cat. Yes, we are nuts, but I couldn't put down a perfectly good cat. I love that stupid cat, and she loves me.
Last night I let Elaine out. Her habit is to take long naps on the screened in porch with, perhaps, a short constitutional around the yard via her pet door. It was a pleasant evening, so we left the door ajar for her. We closed and locked it when we went to bed.
This morning, no Elaine on the porch. Had she come in last night? I didn't remember. Steve didn't remember. But she wasn't around to scream, per usual, for her treat (a tablespoon of evaporated milk) with breakfast. She wasn't meowing for it when I came home at lunch. While I have been prepared for her to die any time during the past six years, right now, while we're trying to manage my mother's care, is not a good time for Elaine to take the final dive.
BUT, around 2:00 this afternoon, she emerged from somewhere, some hidden cat-sized cavern in the house, and meandered over for a head rub and cheek scratch. She's OKAY! Hooray!