I did not like that cat, and he sure as hell didn’t care for me. There’s no getting around that fact. He had been the man of the house for 3 years before I came into his life, and he sure as hell didn’t appreciate getting demoted when my wife moved into my house with him and his brother, Mingus. His revenge was a constant stream of urine on just about everything I owned. Sportscoats, rugs, jeans…anything that fell beside my side of the bed had a pretty damn good chance of smelling like cat pee within 24 hours (I joked that my wife had trained this behavior so I’d pick up my stuff off the floor). He never sprayed anything that belonged to my wife.
He had a look in his eye too. I had tried to get on sportingly with him early in the relationship. but the look in his eye let me know that I needn’t bother. He was always going to hate me, and didn’t really care that I spent $1300 to get him surgery when he had bladder problems. That stopped him from peeing on the couch, but not on my clothes.
And so our relationship was one of mutual disrespect, just him peeing and me screaming, and occasionally passing each other in the hallways silently. He loved my wife, though. Man, how he adored her. He would wake her up early in the mornings, screaming on her side of the bed (He never, ever stepped foot on my side of the bed. Never.) They would walk downstairs together to start their day, while I stayed asleep in bed. Once she left for work, he took on a vow of silence. He wouldn’t make a noise all day, then as soon as she’d walk in the door he’d start meowing incessantly, no doubt trying to explain to her how awful I had been that day, trying to tell her that they should move back to the old place.
He liked to be let out in the mornings, and loved being out in yard. It got to the point where he was essentially an outdoor cat, hanging out in the yard all day, coming in only when it was time for dinner. So when I went to let him in Friday morning and he wasn’t there, I wasn’t particularly alarmed. I went about my day and didn’t think twice about it. But when it got to be mealtime, and he still wasn’t back, I began to get concerned. He was as thick as a brick, and not one to miss a meal.
To be honest, my feelings ran closer to ambivalence than they did to full blown concern. I had always kind of secretly rooted for him to run away, and anytime my office took on that distinct hue of cat pee, that feeling intensified. I know that sounds callous and cold, but you have to understand: I love animals. I used to be an animal trainer. I’ve always had pets. I still remember searching for my lost dog when I was 8 for weeks. It was just this particular animal that I didn’t care for.
I checked the alleyway behind our house, calling his name, posted on Lost and Found on Craigslist, then texted my wife to let her know. When she got home, she was a little bit upset, but not terribly so. We still thought he’d be back. I decided to start touring the neighborhood with the dog.
It’s remarkable how much more you hear when you are listening. I had never really paid attention to it before, but when trying to hear a distant meow, you realize how much damn noise there is in the city. And it never stops. Cars, horns, kids screaming, sirens blaring. A plane passed over. I waited for cars to pass to begin my call.
“Mo! Mosi!” The dog and I walked down Pemberton. I couldn’t imagine that he’d gone far. I thought we’d hear a meow at some point. Our cats have gotten out before (we had four) and not returned until later that day, and we had found them by hearing their meows.
In fact, the scariest lost animal moment had occurred about 8 years previous, when my cat Malia got out. As much disdain as I had for Mo, that’s how much love I had for Malia. She is as annoying as hell, and has made it her goal in life to ruin every meal I take at home by trying to steal the food off my plate in remarkably crafty fashion, from hopping on my shoulder and then trying to swipe it off my fork to waiting for me to leave the room, grabbing something, and scurrying off to another room. But she gets away with it because she is so lovable. And there is no doubt that she loves me. When I was single and had the occasional female at the house, she made it a point to sit between my date and I when we sat on the couch. She loves company, but she also let the ladies know that she was the woman of the house. Anyways, she had gotten out back once. This was a month or so after my now-wife and I had broken up (we broke up and got back together 6 years later), was dressing in a colonial outfit daily as part of my job, and I was in a pretty low place. I couldn’t take a missing cat. I printed up flyers, and scoured the neighborhood. While walking in that same alley behind my house that I walked again yesterday, I heard a meow. I looked everywhere. I couldn’t see her, but she could see me. She meowed again. I searched frantically. Where the hell was she? Finally, I looked up. There she was. On top of a roof, probably 35 feet in the air. How in the hell she got up there is a mystery she will take to her grave. I grabbed a ladder, climbed up on a strangers roof, and brought her down. She has never left the yard since.
Perhaps that adventure had given me a false sense of security. I was confident that Moe was going to holler out at some point, and we’d find him up in some tree. He had a solid set of lungs, and was incredibly loud. But as I walked the streets around my house, dog in tow, I heard everything but meowing. There was a lady walking her small dogs, and they began yipping at mine. “Why anyone loves a small dog is beyond me”, I thought. “They’re so obnoxious and annoying.” It wasn’t long before I noted the irony of my thoughts, as I continued my search for a cat that pissed on all of my clothes.
I rounded the corner. Sirens. Kids screaming on the nearby ballpark. I waited for the noise to pass, then returned to my routine.
“Mo! Mosi!” I thought about how I would make a great tragic character, just a guy who for years walked the neighborhood with his dog, hollering out for his beloved cat. Except that this cat wasn’t beloved. I couldn’t stand that son of a bitch. But my wife loved him, and I love my wife, and every guy wants to be the hero, so there I was. It was getting dark. The dog knew what we were doing, and began getting excited. She is an akita, a protector by nature, and one of her flock was missing. She began darting down alleyways, following her dog intuition. I knew she knew Moe’s scent, so I figured I’d follow her flights of fancy. But her trails ran cold, and I went back to hollering.
“Mo! Mosi!” I thought about how the neighbors were probably getting annoyed with me hollering, but then I thought, “The hell with them. None of us is still gonna be around in 100 years, so who gives a damn what they think?” It was strange yet kind of profound for me to reach that thought. I always care what people think. It drives my wife nuts.
We walked down Catherine Street. There were a couple of people in a heated argument. I mean, really going at it. I thought about listening, but decided that it was none of my business. It was dark. Other than the yelling, the city was quieter. There were less cars, but I could hear a helicopter circling above.
An Ice Cube song entered my head. “Run, run, run, from the ghetto bird.”
That song always enters my head when I hear helicopters. It’s a great tune, but I don’t think the PPD sends many ghetto birds up. Probably a news chopper. Those local news folks love that helicopters, don’t they? I’m convinced that the head of any local news station, when he writes his memoirs, will consider the day they got their news chopper to be the happiest day of his career.
The joking part of the missing cat was done. I had laughed it off earlier, even called him a jerk in my craigslist posting, but it was dark now and I didn’t like the fact that he was gone. I wouldn’t wish a night alone in darkness on my worst enemy, and, well, this was proof.
I could live with him dying. He had a good life, he had at least one person that loved him. But missing was a different story. I didn’t want him to be alone, at night. He was an asshole, but he was my asshole, and I didn’t want any of our hood’s fierce alley cats hurting him. I didn’t want some punk kid hurting hm. I didn’t want him to be stuck in a tree, scared to get down.
The dog and I continued our search. I dreaded walking back to the house without good news. I knew how happy my wife would be if we found him. I really like making my wife happy. In fact, I don’t think I realized how much until I entered my second hour walking the neighborhood, looking for a cat who, if found, would immediately commence pissing on my jeans.
“Mo! Mosi!” What the hell could have happened? Did somebody grab him? God Bless them if they did. He probably would have pissed all over their car as they made their getaway. The thought made me chuckle. Somebody kidnapping this beautiful cat, then living to regret it as he made their lives miserable. “Go ahead. Take him,” I thought. “I can guarantee he’ll make your life a lot more miserable than you’ll make his.”
It was time to head home. I had covered every block within cat walking distance of our house. If he had gotten further than that, well, then he had really wanted to get away. We were leaving for a trip to New Orleans in the morning, and still needed to pack. Leave it to this god damn cat to go missing the day before a vacation. His final revenge. Ruining our first god damn vacation in three years. So typical.
The dog and I walked in the house. My wife had lit a candle in the backyard and was calling his name. Her eyes were tearing. The other cats were getting restless. They knew something weird was going on. The dog went and laid down. She has a way of resting her head on her paws and then looking up like a hound dog when she’s sad. The search party had come back empty handed. She wanted her cat back. I felt guilty for all the times I wished that damn cat had run away. This was no fun. Less fun than having your clothes peed on. I love my wife a hell of a lot more than I hated this cat. I wanted him to come home. I wanted that son of a bitch to go back to making my life miserable.