While we were in South Dakota, we had a cat sitter. This person made sure the cat was cared for, and over the course of the ten days managed to coax out our skittish Ruby, a one year old kalikow cat (OK, it’s calico, but our University President, Theo Kalikow, pronounces her name the same way) who tends to avoid human contact, and to whom I’ve grown closer in the month and a half since we got her from the shelter. She still wouldn’t come up to be petted, but when she saw me she’d rush to her petting perch, knowing I’d come and stroke her.
As our sitter was packing the car, unbeknownst to her, Ruby snuck out. She thought Ruby was inside, and when we got home late at night, we went looking for her in the basement. We gave up, figuring Ruby was hiding, a bit scared. Alas, the next day it was clear that Ruby had escaped.
I’m probably the most upset — we finally had a cat I wasn’t allergic to, and I’d formed a bond with her. I also liked that she wasn’t overly aggressive in demanding affection. I got used to having her around, and genuinely was looking forward to seeing her again. On the 11th I saw Ruby, down about 100 meters from our house on the side of the dirt road. Alas, I was driving, and when I slowed down to call to her, she zipped into the woods. This Sunday night I saw her again. I got out of the call and called her name. She was running away, but stopped, I could tell she recognized my voice. I called again, but the car head lights probably made me look scary and she took off. I searched, called, but no avail. Still, I know she’s alive.
The cat sitter is contrite and apologetic. In fact, she’s shocked this happened, and offered to repay all the money we paid her, plus the cost of the cat. I told her no. I think she is really good at pet sitting, but humans make mistakes. Given how skittish Ruby is — and how she usually didn’t come out during the day — she just figured it was no big deal to leave the door open while loading the car. I appreciated her apology and willingness to return the money, but it was an honest mistake.
We did leave food out for Ruby, but aren’t sure that’s a good idea. The food got eaten, but in a way that didn’t seem like Ruby. She scatters some food and leaves some — once it was like that, but other times the food was finished off and the bowl overturned. We have skunks, raccoons and other cats roaming these woods (as well as deer, Moose, and it’s been reported a bear or two has been sighted). I don’t want to draw skunks!
She was “rescued from the wild,” injured, when the animal shelter got her. I’m sure she knows how to survive out there, and there are a lot of mice in these parts to keep her happy. It’s the height of summer, we live in the woods, things are lush, green and alive. Alas, she doesn’t have a flea/tic collar since we fancied her an indoor cat. So if when the weather gets cold she returns, we may need to make sure she’s cleaned up! For now, she’s in the wild, enjoying life, and I guess that’s OK. I saw her Sunday night, so I know she’s alive. But after our last cat, Whiskers, died a year ago (just two months after we got him from the shelter), it’s frustrating to have Ruby take off like this. But she’s a cat and she made her choice. Hopefully, she’ll choose sometime to return.