Oliver Littlechap, wandered onto our doorstep five years ago, a thin Oliver Twist for whom we couldn't find an adoptive home. If he wasn't wild, he was close to it.
He lived on our patio for a while and was eventually granted inside privileges around the time Hurricane Rita's inland bluster reached our neighborhood.
Oliver's domesticity has always been a little in question. For ages he's liked to prowl the wooded area behind our house and has on occasion been given to staying out all night.
Cats are just not that into doing what they're told.
He disappeared once around 8 p.m., didn't return the next morning and remained missing until Christine and I stood in the back yard calling him diligently in the early afternoon. The vocals finally disturbed him, and he came staggering, blinking and half-asleep, out of a flower bed.
With a little effort, Christine's curtailed some of his roaming, letting him out at night before mealtime. Usually he's been back in an hour, though more recently he's taken to going out the front door when we get home in the evenings.
Bolts out actually, allowing no time for greeting or discourse.
Tuesday was no different when we came home from the gym. An orange streak shot past us, and we went inside to shower and fix dinner.
The front mat remained empty a while later when I looked out. Usually Ollie plops down there after his rounds, waiting to be let in for dinner. Or perhaps for him its supper, the later meal, usually enjoyed after The Theater.
When he still hadn't shown up in another little while, I called for him. Front first. Then back yard. Nothing. I waited a few minutes and called again.
Still no sign. Shaking the Pounce bag didn't do any good either. Reluctantly, I went to bed without Ollie inside, though I took consolation in remembering he'd done this sort of thing before.
The next morning he still wasn't on the stoop. Christine and I walked up the street calling until we had to go to work, and we toured the neighborhood by car before driving in.
I was worried, but I kept consoling myself that he'd be OK. Maybe he had wandered into the woods again.
After a couple of hours at work, I realized I wasn't concentrating and decided to make a quick swing home.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Ollie in one of those cat huddles on the front lawn. He'd finally decided to come home.
We pause now for a message from our jailer
But when I got out of my car, I noticed something on his collar. It's murder to keep a collar on Ollie. He's lost two dozen in five years. We had one of those chips implanted so that if he ever wandered too far there'd be a chance of getting called, but recently I found one I could keep on him without being too constricting.
I went over to him and rubbed his head, thinking, "My god has someone had him tied up?"
It wasn't a cord but a note secured by a twist tie.
"Your cat spent the night in my armadillo trap," an anonymous neighbor had written. Threats began after that. If he--though the note writer said she--returned to his/her property Ollie would be turned over to animal control.
Five years I've worried about him, but Ollie's done fine in our quiet little cul-de-sac, 'till what I suspect is a newish neighbor with a landscaping fetish shows up.
It took Ollie a day to get back to being himself. His nose was red and his face seemed a little swollen, probably from trying to push the trap door open to free himself. Luckily it was chilly but not that cold the other night.
He's adapting to being indoor only fairly well so far, though there have been a few requests for a word with the management this a.m.