When we go out of town, I fill a large bowl with cat food and place it in the basement. Then I make sure the big outside water dish is full of fresh water. The last thing I do is close up the dog door that leads from the garage into the kitchen. Albus still has access to the garage and the basement. He just doesn't have the opportunity to drag in any half dead creatures that he can slowly dismember on our living room rug or worse, our new couch. That's the thing about cats. You can just put out a bowl of food and leave them to fend for themselves, particularly if you already have the type of cat that only seems to love you when his food bowl has an empty spot in it.
I say that about how much Albus seems to not care about our existence, but when ever we return from our trips, Albus is right there meowing at us and rubbing his head on the dog. He really does appear to have missed us. This is usually one of those moments that make my heart soften for the cat and I look at him and say things like "Did you miss us kitty?" as I scratch the top of his head. On normal days, I am usually cursing the cat, most likely because I am scooping up squirrel parts into a trash bag. He's taken to sleeping on my new desk and he's filthy. I'm pretty sure he's got fleas and he always seems to be at his most loving at 3:30 AM.
We got home Friday evening from spending a few days in Oklahoma. We were exhausted from our long drive and had a car full of stuff to unload. I opened the door and let Josephine into the house before walking to the kitchen to open the dog door. I fully expected Albus to be sitting just on the other side of that door, waiting for us, but there was no Albus. We unloaded the car, unpacked suitcases and put leftovers into the fridge. Still no Albus. Michael and I settled in on the couch to catch up on some TV. Still no Albus. Several hours went by and there was still no sign of that cat. I started to get worried. I peaked into the basement and called his name. I sat on the back step looking into the backyard.
Ever since Albus entered this family, we knew that there might be a day when he just didn't come home. He's an inside/outside cat. He's really more outside than inside. We don't even have to clean out his litter box any more. The world's a dangerous place. We have a pack of pitbulls chained up in the yard behind us. There's opossums and raccoons that roam the neighborhood and the street we live on is a high traffic road. The cat lives a dangerous life out there. I thought about all of these things while I sat there on the back step. I thought "well...this is it. we've lost our cat." and I felt a little sad about it. Honestly, I felt a lot sad about it. I went back inside the house and was just about to say something to Michael about it when I heard a "meow". I looked behind me and there was Albus. This time as I scratched the top of his head, I said "Oh kitty! I'm so happy to see you!"
And a few hours later, when I went down to the basement to get the laundry basket and I found him dismembering a squirrel, I didn't really mind that much.