We did not see one of the cats all day Saturday, which was scary

Julie noticed her missing in the afternoon. “Have you seen Lucy?” Julie said. I replied, “Sometimes I don’t see her for days.” Lucy is the shyest of the three cats.

At first I figured Lucy would turn up. None of our cats are outdoor cats or escape cats. They show no particular interest in getting out. And even if they did get out, they move slowly and methodically exploring new areas. So if they got out while one of us had the door open, we’d see them before they wandered five feet.

But as the afternoon turned to evening and night, and still no sign of Lucy, I started to get scared. We scoured the house and yard calling her name. Walking Minnie before going to bed, I decided Lucy had probably gotten out by the back door while I was entering or leaving. Since I almost always have Minnie with me when I’m doing that, I imagined Minnie would have scared Lucy and Lucy would be off like a shot.

I’d convinced myself that this happened, and felt awful about Lucy being gone and it being my fault.

When I got back to the house, Julie greeted me to say she’d found Lucy! Lucy was just sitting in front of the big freezer in the utility room adjacent to the kitchen.

Here’s my theory of what happened: The front and back of the house are separated by a single pocket door, wide enough for one person to go through. For the past few months when we go to bed, we keep that door closed and sealed with a childproof barrier to keep the cats from getting into the front of the house at night and knocking things over. Sammy is the real problem here; he’s a 14+-pound kitten.

I usually bring my keys into the bedroom with me so in the morning I can go out through my office door and in through the back door. In the morning, after I’ve walked Minnie and fed her, I open the pocket door and let the cats out into the rest of the house.

But Friday night when I got to bed I realized I’d forgotten my keys in front. I thought about opening the gate and the pocket door to get my keys, and then putting the gate back in place, but that seemed too inconvenient, so I figured Saturday morning I’d just let the cats have the run of the house a little early.

Saturday morning I noticed one of the girls in the front of the house, which is rare. I couldn’t tell whether it was Vivvie or Lucy. They both look the same to me in dim light at a distance when they’re moving fast.

I think it was Lucy. She wandered into the kitchen exploring and then OMG BIG RAMBUNCTIOUS PUPPY!! as Minnie and I came in! So she retreated to the laundry room to hide out, and eventually forgot her way around and got confused and stayed there all day and into the night until the OMG BIG RAMBUNCTIOUS PUPPY!! was gone for a while and she felt safe enough to come out.

A close call — and a good lesson learned. When opening exterior doors, watch for cats. Because that scary scenario I’d envisioned could actually happen.

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