I’ve Lost Her: One Cat Who Stops Cars and Steals Hearts

It’s surprising how much you miss Trouble when she’s gone

I keep looking away from the news on TV, not because the news is terrible, though it is, but because I want to see Trouble through my window.

My husband, pausing between bites to chew, also sneaks a glance at the front yard.

We miss Trouble.

On Wednesday, I drove into our circular driveway to find a cat sprawled in deep sleep across the pavers in my path.

She either didn’t awaken or wouldn’t acknowledge me. I put my Ford Edge in reverse and crept backward a few feet. Then I put the car in drive, inching forward, hoping the sound of the engine, the nearing car would prompt her to move.

Trouble merely lifted her head slightly then resumed her feline duty — sleep. I tried again.

Reverse. Drive. I honked my horn. She made no effort to move.

Resigned, I put the car in park, exited, and went to the errant cat. As I picked her up to move her to a safe place, my next-door neighbor Eric burst outside and called:

“I watched the whole thing from my kitchen window! I couldn’t stop laughing!”

I laughed as I contemplated the power of this small animal to command my attention and care. To stop my car.

I wished Eric had shot video or at least a photo. For this blog post, I had thought then. For posterity, I think now.

That was then, this is now

Trouble is missing.

“She killed the Easter bunny,” Steve told me this morning. He pointed to the mulch path that cradled a small, dead wild rabbit. “‘Bunny Breath’ strikes again!”

Though the bunny was dead, it wasn’t mutilated. Odd. Trouble gets the moniker “Bunny Breath” because she usually eats much of what she kills. (Before you judge us for keeping this cat outdoors, let me say that Trouble adopted us as an Operation Catnip “spay and release” free-roaming cat. How she joined our family and earned the name Trouble is captured in this blog post. Special thanks to Taylor Swift.)

Despite not eating bunny for breakfast, Trouble didn’t touch her food this morning. In fact, she didn’t appear anywhere near her food bowl. Usually, she is like a Hobbit, enjoying a second breakfast (or third), especially on a chilly morning like today.

By mid-afternoon, we were worried. We had found no sign of Trouble anywhere. I took the cat food container and shook it, whistling and calling for Trouble. But no little tabby cat barreled down the sloping driveway in response to my call.

“Is the garage door closed?” Steve asked me, gesturing not to our garage but to the house across the street. Those neighbors keep the door open — even through the night — when they are at home.

It was closed.

“Maybe she went into the garage and fell asleep and then got locked inside,” he suggested.

The thought buoyed us as we walked later in the day, half looking for her body by the sides of the road (after all, she doesn’t have a healthy enough fear of cars, obviously). And half hoping that Trouble was locked in the neighbor’s garage. And worried that the neighbor might be away for the weekend.

“I want closure,” I said. “Well, I really want her. I want to know she is OK.”

Joy and relief flooded both of us when we returned home to see a car in our neighbor’s driveway and the garage door open. The son had just arrived home.

We looked for Trouble but saw no sign of her.

“I miss Trouble,” I said.

“She’s gone,” Steve said.

“Unless she’s in their pool area again,” I hoped aloud. The neighbors had a U-shaped home surrounding a pool. An 8-foot, cinder-block wall enclosed the pool area. Trouble had climbed up the wall into that area when she was younger and had gotten trapped.

Before we went down to watch a little TV before bed that night, I shot a photo of her full, untouched food bowl.

About 9 p.m. — well past my bedtime — I went outside and called again, “Trouble!”

“She’s gone,” Steve said. “Trouble is gone.”

He had surmised that she’d been hit by a car and managed to get off the road to die in the nearby woods. Or taken away by animal control. Or stolen. My continuing efforts, therefore, were pointless.

But I walked up our driveway and called her name over and over. Suddenly, I clapped my hands and said, “Come here, Trouble!”

Immediately, my neighbor’s front porch lighted. I saw a cat move from the porch and stop on my neighbor’s dark sidewalk. She sat. Hesitant.

I walked closer, calling, sure and unsure that this was Trouble.

A car passed, and I willed her to stay where she was rather than choose that moment to cross the street. When it was safe, I coaxed her across the street and into my arms. I carried her down the drive and around to the back porch to her food bowl. Steve and I rejoiced. She seemed a bit skittish and wide-eyed scared, but she was home. And hungry.

I stayed outside with her, observing her, watching her visibly calm as she regained familiarity with her surroundings. I enjoyed the sounds of the night (until a bat flew too close to my head). I rejoiced that this little cat had returned home.

Loving the found

Inside, I encountered our inside cat, Tori, who demanded some attention. But I was rejoicing over my lost cat who had returned, and petting Tori seemed less important.

So like the Shepherd rejoicing over His found lost sheep. Or the Father rejoicing over his Prodigal Son’s return. Oh, how he loves us!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

1 John 3:1, NIV

If I feel this for an outdoor cat who adopted us, how much more must God love you and me?

Walk loved today, my friend. And if you are lost, come home!


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