I have to admit a few things.
When we got a text in the morning, July 9th, from the neighbors that they had seen three coyotes attack their cat the night before…that they witnessed the coyotes attempting to carrying the cat off…that they reacted quickly, startling the coyotes, and saw the largest coyote release their dangling, non-panicked cat from it’s jaws, to get an even deeper grasp on the kitty’s neck…watched the cat ran off, completely freaked out…and then spent an hour trying to find the cat…I had very little hope. None in fact. Basically all my eyes were able to read was cat was attacked by coyotes, the end.
If you don’t yet know, again, this is the neighbors’ cat we’re talking about…but in a way, he’s become a very shared cat. He’s become part of our home, our family. The cat came to them during a horrid wind storm a few years ago…they weren’t sure who’s cat it was, but they started feed him, and bringing him to a vet. Soon after the cat started coming to our home, again, we didn’t know who’s cat it was, but it played us like fools, and slowly got food and attention from us. We tried to figure out who he belonged to, and finally discovered him calling for us one day, from their balcony. One of the funniest moments in our shared history was the day the four of us were talking in their driveway, laughing about how the cat plays us and his funny behaviors. We compared the names we called him. They called him Professor Chaos…we called him Timothy Gaban.
He got named Timothy over here because my girlfriend quoted “Home Improvement” a few times that week, and whenever the cat would meow at me, I’d repeat one of the lines from the show she said out loud, unrelated to the cat. “I don’t think so Tim.” And the name stuck for her, for him. His last name came one day when he walked across her keyboard and somehow typed out “Gabaaaan.” Figuring the four a’s were a typo, we realized he gave us his last name. That’s why we started calling him Tim Gaban.
My girlfriend was already at work when the text came to us, and she texted me back, oddly she had read the text message pretty much the exact opposite way. I was already condensing the cat’s belongings, put Tim’s photo on the table with a flower next to it… I was miserable, tears streaming down my face, unexplainably every few minutes, lasting for a few seconds each time. But my girlfriend read, the coyotes had dropped the cat, and the cat ran off.
I stopped putting his stuff in a box, I realized she needed time to process…and I’d honor her hope. Let her have hope. Yet, in my mind coyotes are killing machines, hunters, and like how amazing Tim is with killing mice around our yard, coyotes are equally efficient. I re-read the message, and couldn’t help wonder if he got away, or if the coyotes came back to finish the job minutes later, of if he was bleeding out some where with his jugular ripped open. However, we went out looking for him, I had already put up posters around the neighborhood, and both she and I posted on the neighborhood online webzine. Hope was ignited, in me, though very weak.
We met up with the neighbors the next day, and they gave us the whole story, it seemed more viable that he could have survived, and that cat is really crafty and skilled…that actually a little more hope started to burn. My girlfriend spend hours reading about cat/coyote encounters, how many cats actually do survive (actually higher than I would have thought)… Amazing friends on Facebook and Instagram wrote messages of support and advice, which we followed… Hope was growing.
However on the third day, after walking the neighborhood a few times a day…sounding like the creepy couple in a haunted, ghost story, who walk the streets shaking plastic canisters of food and whistling…after hanging up sweaty clothing outside to have the scent fill the air…feeding more than a few skunks, cat food left outside…after working the shelter for the morning, hoping to see Timothy in one of the cages or in the cat hospital…Hope was nearly as painful as loss.
Tears of disappointment would fall from my eyes upon turning a corner and not seeing him. I couldn’t believe how wound up I was over a stupid cat. A cat which from day one we knew was an outdoor cat, that ran the risk of coyotes every night. A cat which I made a cat box for outside, but then took away from him the minute I found him sleeping in it at night. It’s like I wanted him to be aware, always.
I know this is nothing like losing a child, but the experience was such a horrific feeling. Not knowing was the worst thing. Having hope and having loss, and not knowing if he was just out of our sight and incapacitated, or in a yard we couldn’t get into.
This morning, July 12, when I was sneaking out to go to an early morning appointment, I quietly closed the door, not to wake my girlfriend who has literally been sleeping next to a slightly open window each night. I offered a faint whistle as I had done many times in the previous days…when I started to go around back, and just before I whistled again, I heard the faintest meow.
Truthfully, I didn’t react instantly…since his disappearance I had heard many things that sounded like meows…a cabinet, the front door, kids playing next door, the wind…many things. So I stopped and whistled twice more, and then clear as day, three strong meows came out of him, as he came ever closer.
By this time I was moving toward the front and the front door swung open. Purrfectly timed, Timothy reached the front door my girlfriend exited, and muttering something like “Is that Timothy? I must be dreaming,” Tim was in her arms and she was beside herself. He was a little bit, “What? What’s the big deal?” But it was obvious he was happy to be seeing us. The neighbors were instantly texted, and they too reacted with happy tears.
The third act of this story turned out to be a wonderful happy ending, but it left me with a lot of questions about myself and my “realist” thoughts. Both me and my girlfriend are processing the day differently, at different speeds, just like we processed the initial news differently and at different speeds.
I will reflect on the series of events and attempt to learn from them…Hope is an amazing thing. Whether or not our walks, both together and individually helped, whether our shaking food containers, or the neighbors shaking treat bags encouraged Professor Chaos to come out of hiding…who knows, it doesn’t matter. We’re all happy he’s back.
“hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
– Shawshank Redemption
What I have learned is to look to see where I can put hope back into my life…certainly I’ve lost a lot of hope with my career, as strange as that might be to read for some of you…and as painful as it might be to have hope, very possibly it helps, because the reward far out weighs the risk.
Once Professor (of) Chaos Timothy Gaban was reunited with our neighbors, we brought him to the vet, and he’s getting chipped and checked out. My girlfriend and I went around and posted updates on every sign we posted, and every online posting as well. We wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts, wishes, prayers, ideas, and hope. On our walk while attaching the update to a sign we were approached by a older lady… “Is that your cat?” she asked with a sadness, not realizing what were were attaching to the sign. “Kind of…but he’s back.” Instantly the woman’s face lit up, and her hands went up in celebration. I’m sure the notice bummed a few people out, we just wanted to make sure everyone who was invested in the story, even the slightest, got a happy bump, with the good news.
– Quiche Out
Attaching few videos… Hope is a good thing. Hope is a dangerous thing. Both from Shawshank…