What I Learned When I Lost My Cat Last Week
Almost five years ago, my cousin had found a tiny kitten – barely weaned – that was wandering the streets of Visalia. She knew that my husband and I fostered kittens, and at the time we had three cats in our furry family. We were not planning on expanding our little feline family at the moment, so we had planned to foster the kitten till we could find her a home.
The kitten was so tiny and so malnourished, that we feared she might not make it. She was also remarkably chill for a kitten. She just calmly sat and stared around her so much that we thought she might be in shock.
But eventually, she plumped up and came out of her shell. In fact, she turned out to be a spunky little punk of a kitten. When not jumping off the walls (she likes to play what we call “Ninja Kitty” where she jumps off the walls) she was always picking playful fights with the other cats. She was so tiny and fluffy, and yet so fierce that we named her “Yzma” after the villain in The Emperors New Groove. (There is a scene where Yzma turns into a kitten, and while looking cute and fluffy says, “Now I’m going to kill you!”)
We were ready to hand Yzma over to the animal shelter so they could place her in a home, when Jonathan surprised me by buying Yzma a kitty collar and a name tag that said, “Happy Birthday Gingi”. So Yzma joined our little family in the summer of 2010!
Many of you know that I am a crazy cat lady – counting Yzma, my husband and I have five cats. Long before we had children, we had our furry babies. While I love all of our kitties, my special cat – the one who pretty much owns me – has always been our cat Yzma.
I call her my “Shoulder Gargoyle” because, 1) She has a very smushed, gargoyle-esque face for such a petite cat and 2) She perches every night on my shoulder and looks down at me, like a gargoyle perches up on a building looking down.
She really is my furry baby. When my husband was in Navy boot camp, she got me through sleepless nights. Before I had my daughters, she was who I pampered and spoiled and loved. She is a constant in my life.
I am stressing all of this because I want to really convey the gravity of how devastated I was when she went missing last week.
When I was in labor with Thyme, and rushing out the door at 5am, I accidentally left the front door open. The hospital kept us for two days, so by the time we came home, the door had been left open for two full days. All of our indoor-only cats were accounted for, except for Yzma. She was nowhere to be found.
This really worried me, because of all the cats, Yzma HATES being outside. As gentle as she is, she gets scared and nearly feral whenever she is in new surroundings. She completely loses her head. If she was missing, I seriously doubted she’d have the presence of mind to find her way home if she ran off frightened by a dog or a car.
So when I came home from the hospital, I immediately printed out lost cat fliers, and walked the neighborhood, hanging up signs and going door to door asking if they had seen my furry baby. (Did I mention that the hospital forgot to give me pain medications? And I suffered a second degree perennial tear?)
While I was excited and blessed to have a healthy whole baby to bring home, I was feeling severely depressed that Yzma was missing. She is MY kitty. I’m so used to having Yzma on my shoulder every night that I can’t sleep when she’s not there. I’d roll over and reach for her, and then just tear up, thinking I would never see her again.
On the fifth day of Yzma being missing, I finally decided to give up and give it to God. I pretty much believed I would never see her again. I reached for her in the middle of the night, and woke up in tears. I decided to walk the neighborhood at 4am, one last time, with little to no hope of finding her.
I walked down the street, calling her name, peering into every bush and every shrub in the neighborhood, sobbing so hard I was afraid the neighbors would hear me. I sat down on the curb and just told God, “I don’t know why my kitten was taken from me, especially during this joyous time. I am mad, I am upset, I am confused. But I trust you, and I know you can bring her home. Even if you choose not to, I don’t understand it, but I trust you. Thank you for the time I had with her. These last 5 years with my kitten have been amazing. I’m so grateful for that. I want her home so badly. But if this is goodbye, help me to move on and let go of this pain and embrace this happy time with my new little girl and my growing family to the fullest.”
After getting in a good cry, I headed back home and went to bed, gently sobbing myself to sleep. I woke up the next morning, determined to stop searching for my cat nonstop – especially with a newborn baby in the house who very much needs my attention and love.
I had just settled down on the couch with my morning coffee, when I saw her. Yzma was up on the neighbor’s fence, about to jump over. She looked skittish and scared. Without thinking I screamed, “Yzma! Yzma!” and ran outside, with my husband hot on my heels. My yelling scared her and she jumped over the fence.
My husband vaulted over the fence after her, barefoot and without hesitation (he has never been so sexy to me!) and chased after her just in time to see her jump over another neighbors fence. He climbed up on the fence, to find the neighbors in their backyard. He asked if he could come over to look for our cat, but they said no.
They had barking dogs, and I was really worried if Yzma was in their yard, they would hurt her. We circled around to their front door, trying to see if maybe Yzma had ran into their front yard. We knocked on the door and asked again if we could just go back to look for her and get her. At this point I was openly weeping. I thought I would never see her again, and to know where she was, and not be able to get her?!
But even with the post-partum weeping lady at their front door, they still said no, along with a comment about how, “My dogs don’t like cats, so she won’t be back there for long.” SERIOUSLY. ASSHOLE NEIGHBORS.
Anyway, at this point, we decided since she was super freaked out but obviously knew where home was, that we would set humane cat traps around our property for her. I hadn’t set out traps before because there are TONS of strays and outdoor cats in our neighborhood and I figured if she was close to home, she’d come to the door. But knowing she was nearby, we ran to the SPCA (and had to sit in the car for 20 agonizing minutes to wait for them to open) and then rented 3 cat traps.
On the way home, I asked Jonathan to drive by the asshole neighbors house one more time before we headed home. And lo and behold, there was Yzma, in the asshole neighbors yard! She was crouched down, scared and tentative, under a fence. When we pulled the car over, she got scared and ran up under an RV parked in their yard.
Jonathan crawled under the RV and gently called to her, and she let him pick her up. She was super scared, but once she was in our arms, she relaxed and calmed down. We brought her home and she just started PURRING!
Me being a very tearful and weepy eyed happy kitty mommy!!
I seriously thought I would never see her again. My heart was so broken, and I felt so horrible being so depressed about my furry baby, when God had blessed me with my precious little Thyme. And right when I had given up and let Yzma go, God brought her back to me! It was a blessing I did not expect, and one that I certainly don’t deserve.
For five full days I lost hope. And right when I gave up, she was returned to me. I cannot even begin to describe the joy and awe I’ve been feeling in these past few days. To have a new precious baby girl AND my kitten home safe and sound?!
I learned this past week that it’s so easy to take blessings for granted. Even silly little blessings like furry babies! While I knew losing a cat would be devastating, I never knew just how gut wrenching and upsetting it would be. Having Yzma back has opened my eyes to the importance of loving your pets and family like every day might be your last. Never take your loved ones for granted! Every day is a gift!
Even Tessa is happy to have Yzma back!!
If you have a pet, go give them a hug and a squeeze. You never know how precious they are till they’re gone!