That Stupid Cat.

by Lori Dwyer on August 7, 2012 · 17 comments

That stupid cat with its ridiculous name has been gone for two weeks now. I’m irrationally pissed at it… what the f*ck, cat? Seriously. I thought you were my allay in this ‘keeping the kids content’ game I play every day, the one I feel like I’m always losing.

The kidlets have not yet completely realized their pet has vanished. They’ve mentioned Mr Tree in passing conversation, alluding to his habits or, one terrifyingly close occasion, how old he will be on his next birthday.

But they’ve not asked where he is, or wondered why they have not seen him. He was an outdoor cat, an explorer– true to his name, he spent a lot of time climbing the thirty foot banksia tree in his backyard. He would pop indoors for a few minutes a day to eat or just check out the action, then retire on the lounge, exhausted from his hobby of terrorizing the native bird life for hours, when the night chill set on. More fearless feline than lazy lap cat.

You spotted the cat… right?

So, really, it’s logical my children wouldn’t ask, not for a while… I wonder if they know already. They just haven’t verbalized it yet, to me at least; but what they say to each other is anyone’s guess. I worry that they, like me, have just come to expect things like this to happen… that the things they love will die.

When I realised Mr Tree was missing (that worrying, spreading dawn of ‘I haven’t seen our cat for a few days…’) I made the stubborn desicion that, until I saw a fluffy orange carcass on the side of the road, I would not tell my kids that yet another one of their pets was dead.

I’ve amended that policy, in light of no carcass being found– I’ll tell them if, and when, they ask.

Is that a course of action I’d recommend…? Most certainly not. As we know, I’m a believer in telling my children the truth, or as much of it as they are capable of processing at the time. This feels weak, like a cop out… it feels like a lie.

But fuck it. The five year old in my mind is stamping her foot and simply refusing to budge on this one. And why should she? Why on earth would I want to do that, again, when three explanations is three too many for children who are still really only babies… and my babies at that?

I’m not sure how long the spirit of Mr Tree can remain in limbo like this… but, for my own peace and sanity, I’m more than willing to find out.

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Anonymous August 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm

There's no telling.

We once had a cat named Nermal who disappeared. About 6 months after that we moved about 10 miles away. Sure enough, the cat showed up to our new house about a year afterwards. He was a rather unique looking orange tabby, there was no doubt it was him. He lived with us for another year, and then off he went on another whirlwind adventure, we never saw him after that. I like the idea of having postcards delivered to you (or your kiddos) that tell the tales of adventures he is having. I'm sure some of your trusty readers would be happy to send them! I would! – from Texas – he could be here getting a new accent, eating a whole host of fried foods, visiting the Alamo, and watching out for copperheads and rattlesnakes :)


Anonymous August 8, 2012 at 11:21 pm

over the years i have had 2 different adult cats turn up on my doorstep one day, and decided to make my house their home…. one had a litter of kittens stayed for a year, then went home (which i later found out was 2 streets over).. the other stayed put for the rest of his days…

i've often though of the homes those cats left behind…tigers family must have thought he was gone, while he was mooching snacks and tummy rubs off my dad for the next 10 years.


Anonymous August 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm

In your situation I would probably buy another one the same colour and hope my kids didn't notice the difference then if the first cat turns up say wow Mr Tree has a friend that looks just like him! Anything rather than go through that again….


Marianne August 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

We had a big, fat mostly-siamese cat named Linda (she was so fat, we didn’t realize she was pregnant before she was about to give birth right before we moved houses). After the move, we noticed that sometimes Linda would move into other yards for petting and adoration (she was really a beautiful cat). After the kittens were born & weaned & placed in good homes, we took her to the vet, got her fixed and up-to-date on her shots (not something I wanted to do while she was pregnant). One day when we were outside checking the mail…I heard a neighbor calling “Molly! Molly!” and saw her shoot across the way and get fed. The next time I saw the neighbor, I told her that I wanted to mention that I had had Linda vaccinated. I told her that I knew sometimes she bummed meals at her house (the cat was SHAMELESS and quite rotund) and I just wanted to make sure that she didn’t get shots twice in one year. The neighbor then told me that “Molly” had been their cat for months and months (excuse me??? Did she think the shaved belly and row of stitches happened when “Molly” spayed herself?) I was a little put-off at the ‘tude, but figured that since Linda came home every night I didn’t mind sharing my cat’s affections with the neighbors. A day or two later, she went missing for good…about a month after that, my neighbor left her husband and kids and ran off with her boyfriend. I have no PROOF…but am just betting that Linda was made an “indoor” cat right after my conversation with the neighbor & left with the adulterous hussy.
We had another cat, Maggie (she was before Linda at our old house) who was just frankly disgusted at the new puppy we adopted and divorced us & went down the hill to live at the puppy-less house of some very nice people. They had the courtesy to walk up the hill to tell us that Maggie had immigrated to a less canine household and did we want her extradited?
In any case, there are two examples of cat-loss that didn’t end too badly.

(BTW, thank you for the email, Lori)


Anonymous August 8, 2012 at 2:53 am

I was wondering about Mr Tree last night. Just wondering I guess why you haven't mentioned him since the last time. Then fully knowing why, because he has not come home I said to myself. But not wanting it to be true. With all that the kids have lost, the cat TOO?? Jeeeesh! I feel like the dog that ate the chooks may be the culprit. Just a thought. So maybe you can find a Mr Tree twin? And the kids wont know the difference? Not reality I know, but a hopeful thought. Mr Tree's twin must be out there! I dont know how you can bare telling them about another dead pet. Oh dear my. I'm SO sorry Lori, my heart breaks for you. Maybe a fish next time for the kidlets, a goldfish. They look alike, DONT THEY? xoxo- Lisa


Nellie August 8, 2012 at 12:57 am

My cat disappeared from my grandparents house when I was little. My grandpa used to tell me all these stories about getting a letter from him. I was only four but it made me angry. I didn't think he was dead- just that he ran away and I was furious at being played to. But I knew my grandpa thought he was being nice so I acted grateful and interested in his stories.

I was a quirky child.


Melissa August 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Perhaps Mr. Tree could send the kids postcards from his exploits around the world? I'd be happy to post one from the US. I know it's not technically the "truth" but a little fun and fantasy? Just a thought.


Leah August 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I guess the thing is, the cat could come back and that could create more heartbreak and confusion for their other losses … so being vague and not saying he's dead is probably wise. I hope the norty bugger comes back!


Lisa August 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I hope that you find your cat again! That would be really hard to explain and handle!!


Suzie August 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Lots of experience with this.

We had one cat who would disappear periodically and then reappear skinny and hungry. We would have loved to ask him where he went. Sometimes he'd disappear for days at a time.

Another cat didn't like the kittens being around the house so should went and found a new house with new slaves, we weren't good enough for her. We didn't call her Investigator for nothing (Vesta for short).


Anonymous August 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Our cat, one time, when the boys were wee, went on a very very very long walk. And possibly, (not very probably, but it was technically possible) he found someone else to live with, that needed him more than we did.



Miss Pink August 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Agreeing with everyone else. Mr Tree is alive until proven otherwise. He's just gone on a holiday….and maybe can't find his way back?


Sarah August 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

My mum's cat vanished from next door to my house & appeared in Bowral a year later!! Mr Tree is alive until proven otherwise :)


Lisa H August 7, 2012 at 11:33 am

Our previous cat has been missing for six years. He's not dead, just MIA.

Our current cat isn't a replacement. He's not.


Spagsy August 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

Maybe mr tree has gone to spend time with some other family. There's a chop and bump who might need him right now.


Jody Jones August 7, 2012 at 8:52 am

Mr Tree should totally be renamed Schrodinger's Cat.

I think your totally right in this case L – you don't know what's happened, he could just be on some kind of Excellent Adventure, why put your kids through unnecessary pain? You've all had more than enough.

So, if you're looking for validation, you've totally got it from me ;)


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