June's stupid life

How my cat faked her own death to get out of getting me a Christmas present

On Saturday mornings, I like to clean. Well. “Like” is a strong term. But this house is so quaint and pretty and I want to keep it that way, so on Saturdays, I dump out the litter box and take it outside, hose it off, air it out, that sort of thing.

Then I take the back entryway rug outside and shake it, sometimes hose it down, too, hang it outside for a bit to dry.

Then I wash all the floors and throw the water outside. My point is, on Saturday mornings I’m in and out more than mama’s squeeze box.

On Saturday, December 22, exactly seven years to the day I adopted Iris, née Sugarplum, I saw her go out one of those times. Well. “Saw” is a strong term. It was only later when I obsessively reviewed my every move that I recalled her strolling out the back door during my endless trips out the backyard.

Iris went out all the time at the old house. But at this house, Lily goes out not at all and Iris maybe once every two weeks. And I used to think that was kind of a shame, because there’s a dead end behind me and a dead end to the right of me, and the next three blocks are also dead ends, plus also behind me is nothing but wilderness till it drops off and there are railroad tracks way down below.

It seemed pretty safe for a cat to wander, is my point. But no one was wandering. Iris would stroll to the backyard, maybe lounge on the grass for 15 minutes, then always come inside, and she did this only every few weeks.

That Saturday, December 22, I was getting through my cleaning in a hurry because Jo was coming over so we could go to that fabulous beauty supply store, and then after that it seems like I had a party or something. It was three days before Christmas, man. It was a busy time.

So it was dark out before I noticed Iris wasn’t home. I think maybe it was when I served dinner, and I like how I act like all the cats sit at the table and I bring out those dishes with domed lids on them. Anyway, I called her and she didn’t come home.

I didn’t like that at all.

The next morning I called her again and no Iris. When she wasn’t hungrily at the back door that morning, I was really worried. This was not an Iris move. A Steely Dan move? Oh, sure. But look what happened to him.

That’s when I began the obsessive tracking of everything I’d done the day before, and registered her stroll out the back while I was whacking a rug like it was 1892 or whatever.

In the ensuing days, both Ned and I traipsed endlessly through that bramble behind my house. I pulled on waders like a crazy person so I could check every nook. I think it was the first Sunday that we both saw a huge bird of prey circle-circle-circling overhead.

Right then I knew. I knew with every fiber of my being that Iris was dead. Maybe a fox got her. Maybe a coyote. Maybe she fell off the cliff that leads to the train tracks and got run over.

Still, I walked all over my neighborhood, I asked people, I checked the shelter and Craigslist. I called the shelter and got Sugarplum’s chip number. (God, that’s a horrific name.) (June, driving away readers with pets named Sugarplum since 2019.) I even walked right into a neighbor’s two open sheds. But in my heart, I knew she was dead. She wouldn’t just … not come home.

And I didn’t say anything about it here because people would say, Oh, my cat wandered off and came back or Oh, you never should let cats outside, and I was too sad to hear either thing. I know cats come back; I have Lily’s 52-day story. But not blind Iris.

I finally told you after it’d been more than a week, I think, wasn’t it? I’d long since given up by the time I’d told you. And I could not even think about it. Oh, it was awful. Iris is my favorite. She’s so plucky and has that little smile all the time. Oh, sweet Iris.

Yesterday morning I was blogging at you while it was still dark and I heard a meow. I JUMPED up from this chair and RAN outside, calling for Iris because I’m telling you it sounded just like her. But nothing was there. I decided maybe it was some cat in here meowing and I was being delusional.

Last night around 5:20 I arrived home from work. I had dinner plans at 6:30 and was considering doing some freelance work, so I was all preoccupied as I pulled up to my house, and

I

SCREAMED

in my own car, because THERE WAS IRIS! Just sitting on the glider on my front porch. Just lounging with her little smile, like a Southern lady, if a Southern lady sat on her haunches.

“IRIS!” I screeched, and you can imagine the neighbors. “There goes that old cat lady again.”

“Are you okay?” I picked her up while she looked at me with her little blind smile. She was all bones.

I took her right to the water bowl but she wasn’t thirsty. So I carried her like she was Heidi and I was Grandfather, over to the food and you’ll be surprised to hear a bite to eat sounded good to Iris.

Of course, it was only later that I Googled it and read if a cat’s been missing for a long time, you should feed them slowly. I read this after she ate three cans of food.

Everyone here was very curious about why she smelled like Monty Hall or like she slept with three leopards or spent two weeks at the blackjack table in Vegas or whatever the hell her smell told them.

wat you meen milhows not get attenshun

But mostly we were just glad she’s home.

Yes, I DID have a celebratory Corona. You would have, too, bitch-ass.

Last night Iris slept with me and as always, we pressed spines. I woke up today worried I’d dreamt the whole thing till I felt her little bony cat spine still there behind me.

If you think about it, it might make sense that someone opened their garage to leave for a Christmas trip the Saturday before Christmas, and arrived the Friday after New Year’s, doesn’t it? I think Iris might have done an Edsel impression, hanging out in a garage. Cause an Edsel is a car, see.

Anyway, she’s home. My Iris is home! I was never so happy to get out a third cat dish.

Welcome home, Miss Iris. Hey, what if this isn’t Iris? Maybe it’s another gray and white blind cat with a teensy Mona Lisa smile.

P.S. I was just taking the trash out and she wanted to go outside. The answer is

NO,

Iris.

82 thoughts on “How my cat faked her own death to get out of getting me a Christmas present

  1. So so so happy to read this! Welcome home Iris!

    If she is still itching to get outside I think you need to invest in a cat leash. 😊

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  2. I’m sure you didn’t even want to let yourself think it was possible that she would come back, and then hearing that meow must have been terrible.
    I can’t even imagine what your heart felt like when you saw her. It makes me all choked up to imagine it. I’m so very happy for your whole family that she’s back!

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  3. Yayyyyyy!

    I figured since you didn’t want to write about it, something really bad must have happened (I was thinking maybe you accidentally ran her over). Happy to hear that is not the case. Welcome home, Iris!

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  4. I don’t post much, (I think this is only the second time), but I am so happy for you that sweet Iris is home. A very happy start to the new year.

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  5. Oh, my gosh! This is such wonderful news! I swear Lily put her up to this. Taunting her…Iris is tough, she had to prove herself.

    Here’s to the relief we all feel now!

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  6. Oh, my gosh! This is such wonderful news! I swear Lily put her up to this. Taunting her…Iris is tough, she had to prove herself.

    Here’s to the relief we all feel now

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  7. Your smile says it all, doesn’t it? So nice to hear some good news rightaboutnow! It’s crazy how much weight they can lose in such a short time frame. All that sniffing of every nook and crannie from the others, happens every time I bring one of mine home from a vet visit. With her poor eyesight, Iris must have used her sense of smell to find her way home, amazing! So happy for you and Iris…made me cry…happy tears. Thank you for making everyone’s day!

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  8. I’m not a teary person, but I’ll admit I cried a little when I read that Iris was dead. Then I cried again when I read she had returned. The better kind of tears the second time. We once had a never-missed-a-meal cat disappear over a long weekend. I’m sure he was locked in someone’s garage, and I’ll bet Iris was too. Little stinker needs to learn braille.

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  9. As I am an old sap and cry easily, I cried when I saw the Instagram update and have just cried while reading the story of her return. I am so glad for you that she’s back! And while I realize that among your readers, I am in the minority as a Ned fan…goddammit can we just acknowledge how great he is when called upon? Your Ned is of more emotional (and otherwise) support to you than MANY people experience from spouses they’ve been married to for YEARS. Not that you asked, but I think love has many shapes, colors and sizes. And I really think you two love each other a whole fucking lot. Okay, I’m done. I’m so glad she’s home. Lovely post, old lover.

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  10. Great news! But if that hawk tried something, we all know there’s a pile of big bird feathers somewhere in the swamp.
    Iris: you’re grounded until you learn to grab a breakfast bar and GPS collar on your way out the door!

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  11. That’s amazing. I’m glad you found her.

    Something similar happened to the cat I had about 10 years ago. She was too nosy and became trapped in the neighbor’s crawl space/basement after wandering in there. They didn’t know and locked the door, then went out of town. I heard a pitiful meow like 2 weeks later and busted her out. She had survived in crickets and sump pump water. She was skinny, but she got better.

    I’m so glad iris is home.

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  12. This is wonderful news! Our sweet Iris is home! I loved how the other animals welcomed her home; such a delightful family, The Gardens.

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  13. Oh, June, I’m so happy for you all! Even though I was furious at the Lassie Come Home movie when I was ten for making me cry.
    “THERE WAS IRIS! Just sitting on the glider on my front porch. Just lounging with her little smile, like a Southern lady, if a Southern lady sat on her haunches.” My favorite words for all of 2019.

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  14. My SIL’s has four cats. They are inside cats only and they are spoiled rotten. Sammy (she was a short full grown cat) always tried to get out though, she was very sneaky. One day the door was accidentally left open and little Sammy got out. They did everything you’re supposed to to locate their cat for months. No Sammy. About six months later a friend mentions to SIL that they saw a cat that looked just like Sammy on the local shelter website. SIL was at that shelter door first thing the next morning. Shelter staff opened up the kennel. The cat immediately came up to her, SIL started bawling and the cat started licking her face all over giving her kisses like she used to. SIL had many many pictures of Sammy from before that she brought to the shelter and reunification happened and SIL and BIL were beyond the moon. They took Sammy home and the other cats hated her, SIL thought this was because she had been gone for 6 months.

    Fast forward six more months. Husband and I are visiting SIL. I am so excited to see Sammy again, I love all my SIL’s cats and spend most of my time there petting them or trying to pet them. I squeal, “Where’s Sammy????!!!!!” SIl brings Sammy to me. I look at Sammy. Husband looks at Sammy. I look at husband. Husband looks back at cat. Husband looks at me. We both look at SIL. After a few moments of us staring at each other, I say slowly, “Um. SIL. That’s not Sammy.” SIL says yes it is. I said no isn’t. Husband says it definitely isn’t, looks nothing like Sammy. SIL is incredulous. After absorbing all this, she said we won’t tell BIL, he will be devastated. She said but this cat knew me right away and became BIL’s cat immediately again and started doing all the things Sammy did. Now my SIL and BIL are huge cat people and their cats lead charmed lives, they are very loving, warm, nurturing to all cats. I said of course the shelter cat kissed you like it knew you, if I’m a stray and you poke YOUR face in my kennel, I’m gonna do everything to go home with you and of course I chose BIL as my human person cause he thought I was old Sammy and loved all over me immediately.

    Long story long, fast forward another six months. Meow said the cat outside the back door. It was a very familiar meow. SIL whips the back door open and right there was original Sammy, looking fat and healthy and happy (still small and all of original Sammy’s markings). SIL screamed and tried to get Sammy but Sammy ran through the yards back toward another house. In subsequent exploratory walks down a couple streets over, SIL sees little Sammy sitting in another house’s window, happy, healthy but apparently still being the little sneaky Pete she is.

    To this day, BIL has no idea current Sammy is not original Sammy.

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    1. We had a neighborhood feral with a birth defect, a limp and an extremely curled trail. We trapped him, neutered him and let him go. For years, the neighborhood fed him. One awful night, he came to us after being mauled. We took him to the vet ER. They put him down and assured me the damage was not caused by a human. Two days later, he shows up in the driveway.

      We’re telling ourselves we aren’t insane. But all black, birth defect, limp, tail: he appeared to be the same cat. That was at least six years ago and now Mr. Man lives on our deck in an insulated house with a thermostat, soft pillows, kitty cannabis if he gets a wound, canned food and indoor cats to stare at through the kitchen door. His name is Leroy. We figure they were siblings.

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    2. I love this story! I’ve always wondered how many wandering cats are really just living two separate lives. Like bigamists.

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  15. I am SO very glad to hear this, June. Your mom told me a day or so ago. And I said ‘WHAT???’ (My words came out in capitals, just like that, I swear.) When you blogged that Iris ‘was gone’ I took that to mean dead. Yikes! But now sweet Iris is resurrected and the family is back together. (Except for Steely Dan. I still have the blog you posted about his ‘disappearance’ because I can’t bear to think of him not living and enjoying life and because I want to be able to still see his sweet, sassy face.)

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  16. So glad little not-quite-blind Iris (I agree w/Paula H &B) is back in the nest where she belongs. So happy for you and the whole crew.

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  17. Sweet baby Jesus this is FABULOUS! I was distraught. I was always wanting to hear what happened but I get why you didn’t say because people mean well but it can come across judgey. Squeeze her for me! And Ned, what a quality friend for helping with the hunt.

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  18. The best news ever! Welcome home Iris! And I’ll bet the other animals got the full story just by sniffing her. What a great start to the weekend!

    Lovely post old lover June!

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  19. I’ve NEVER had a cat go missing then come home, so you wouldn’t have heard that from me. This is truly a miracle! “Miracle Iris” we’ll call her!

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  20. Sigh of relief from here. Wait, I think that was in response to reading the post (reading at the speed of hopefulness), I finally got to the end and it was good. Like on the seventh day God rested. Or Martha Stewart and it is a good thing.
    Good for all of you.

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  21. I’m just SO happy for you and Iris and the whole famdamily!
    Welcome home sweet girl!
    Thanks for this post, June.

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  22. That is the BEST news ever, well Lily coming home after going to fat camp was good news too. I bet you slept really well last night knowing your sweet Iris was home and safe. I’m so happy for you!

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  23. Excellent news!! I think you’re right; Iris got trapped by some selfish family-visiting whore of a person who didn’t bother to check their damn garage before traipsing merrily off to grandmama’s for gifts they will have to return.

    And I’ll say it again: Iris is not blind. I think her sight may somehow be affected, she might be “legally blind,” and will never drive a car, but that cat is.not.blind.

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  24. Can you just hear Lily saying “Only two weeks?!? Bitch, please…” Such great news and the title of your post made me laugh out loud.

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    1. I agree. My husband makes Lassie jokes to the dogs all the time. I did not tell him because I have the plague and am very crabby. Just started antibiotics. He has the big C ao this is small potatoes but he is feeling pretty spry at the moment, thank the heavens.
      My aunt with the four acre spread in Pennsylvannia with an acre and a half pond lost a beautiful white Persian cat and they are convinced a hawk got her.

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      1. Sorry about beautiful persian kitty, that’s sad. I hope you are feeling better, and so glad to hear that M is feeling bushy tailed, so to speak. 🙂

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  25. I am so happy happy happy for all of you and this deserves an exclamation mark! My heart started pounding when I saw the title of your post and by the time I got to the sentence where she was home my hands were sweating. That’s fine writing.

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  26. I was just looking out my window, watching a feral cat in the neighborhood drinking out of puddles. Wishing I could adopt her, but my big old spoiled beast Dave would immediately eat her, I thought about you losing Iris and realized I couldn’t stand losing another cat. Then your post popped up! SO happy for you both!

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