Allie got out of the house tonight. I was pretty much certain she was gone forever, with either wild animals eating her or the call of the wild attracting her too strongly.* She came home. I've chewed her out, explained that she made a poor life decision. She doesn't see things my way, and has turned an icy shoulder toward me.
Let me back up. Allie was a 5-month-old stray living in a shelter when I met her. I fell in love with her. I brought her home and kept her inside all to myself for 3 years.
Then my parents moved out of state and left my childhood cat, Little Kitty, to stay with me. LK was an outdoor cat. Allie learned quickly. One day Hay and I came home from work to find that our second story bedroom window's screen was on the ground. ... ... *sigh* *deep breath* Allie was so anxious to be outdoors with her big sister that she shoved the screen out and jumped. When we came home it was raining and she was mewing from underneath the neighbor's car. She didn't understand what to do outside (yet), she just knew she wanted to be there.
For the next 3 years, against Hay's and my wishes, Allie was an outdoor kitty. Unfortunately, she began bringing home more and more trophies, many of which she didn't bother to kill so that there were mice, chipmunks, moles, and varying sizes of birds running around our apartment partly chewed and very scared. Allie's attitude became progressively worse as well. She would hiss, bite, scratch, and growl at us. She never wanted any attention, and acted almost cavecattish, coming inside only to drink clean water and have uninterrupted sleep.
Then we moved to the country, and both Allie and Little Kitty got a do over. Under the guise of concern that wild animals would eat them or cars would run them over, we told the kittos they could not under any circumstances go outside. It was a tough fight, but Hay and I stood our ground for the next 3 years. Allie's personality began to mellow again. She would tolerate us giving her affection, and would even come lie down in our laps to purr and drool as we patted her head and stroked the fur along her back.
Along the way LK lost her battle with various ailments a 19-year-old cat just can't win, but Allie has never forgotten her days of freedom. So, tonight when I saw that the screen door and the glass door to the deck were both open my heart didn't even bother to sink because I just knew Allie was outside and wasn't coming back. She is happiest outdoors, that's where she can romp around, eat animals and grass, beat up neighbor kitties, and soak up the sunshine.
For whatever reason, Allie did come home. She hissed and scratched and kicked at me when I tried to check her for bugs and wounds. She threw up gigantic strands of grass all over the dining room floor. She may have a disease from rubbing noses with a neighbor kitty.** But, she's my girl and she is always welcome in this house until she's done with this life.
*She does not wear a collar. She used to. I even have a tag that says her name and our phone number on it, but I challenge you to get a collar on her and keep it on.
**This is the part that scares me the most, that she now has feline leukemia or something else communicable and will share it with the other girls. I would be devastated if all of my kitties became sick and died within a short time.