What to Do When Your Cat Leaves You

Photo by Johnny Cat

One year ago I had to move out of a house due to the recession. I had two cats I had to consider as I transitioned from 1600 square feet to a tiny room in a shared duplex unit. One of them, Scooter (who graces the top of The Litter Box) found a home with my friend. I kept Jasmine because I knew she just wouldn’t fit in with anyone else; she’s unadoptable. Having raised her from her earliest days, I knew she’d only be happy with me.

Within a week of the move, Jasmine disappeared. To this day, I have no idea how she got out, but she was missing for a week. I checked the Humane Society twice – a heartbreaking act that knows no parallel. I put up Lost flyers. I even listened to neighborhood rumors about a crazy cat lady who kidnaps cats (catnaps?) and pounded on her unanswered door a few times. Around the time I had given up hope, and┬áprepared┬áto accept the fact that she was gone, she slinked back into the yard, into my arms, and back into our room, where I snapped that picture above as we reunited.

As awesome as that moment was, I realize now, a year later… she was mentally changed by that move. She now views every move made by anyone who comes into this place as suspect, all of her habits have been thrown into whack because of my work schedule, and she discovered the one thing I was hoping she’d never discover. See, my yard has a chain link fence that I thoroughly fortified so she couldn’t sneak out, and for a while it worked fine. I could leave her outside, unattended, for as long as she wanted to get her porch time on.

The problem? Strays. The neighborhood is thick with them, and they appeal to her cat-sense of adventure. So, after maybe 10 or 20 observations of these feline Fagins deftly hopping over the four foot tall fence, Jazz caught on. And now that she’s found her freedom here, she refuses to come back inside; she’ll only come to the back door for food and water once a day. She also wants love and pets, but if I physically bring her into the room we shared for a year, she becomes visibly uncomfortable, and bolts back to the exit, untrimmed claws a-blazing.

I feel like she’s left me, but I did let it happen. And I think that’s the key; letting my cat be what she wants to be is sometimes liberating, and very difficult at the same time. I know she’s still going to be around, but I think her life decisions may end up shortening her life. I can’t afford to take her to the vet anymore, but I know she’s going to need some meds for the fleas alone come November. But these problems all vanish when I take her into my lap, and she climbs my chest and wraps her tiny arms around my neck, giving me the best hug I’ve ever gotten.

Love you Jasmine.

Update:

Through the past four months, Jasmine and I have gone through some major changes. Long story short — she’s now an indoor only cat, living with me in New Orleans, and as healthy as can be! Thanks everyone who offered words of encouragement.

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3 Responses to What to Do When Your Cat Leaves You

  1. joanne casey says:

    Awww! maybe she got confused and went back to the old house, then returned/

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yeah but what if your cat finds an other one and live the rest of their life away from you … That’s what my cat did . I miss it as much as you did ………. ;(

  3. Cathy says:

    A lot of animal shelters offer low cost vaccinations & flea treatments ( and food banks for pets so that people can keep their pets rather than give them up when they can’t afford food). Some Petcos have ‘healthy pet’ vacc. low cost clinics too! Because Jasmine is an outdoor cat now I would highly recommend getting her rabies, distemper and a leukemia vaccination. I have a cat living in my garage who quit my neighbor last year (Miss Kitty decided she’d had enough of them). She’s doing great but I had to take her to a reg vet because she was sick and my vet charged more than twice what the clinics charge for vaccinations. Anyhoo..just an option- just out your local shelters to see what they offer.

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