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Where is Luke?

Our cat, Luke, is missing. I don’t know where he is, and the absence of his incessant meowing fills the house with a lack that is greater than I thought possible. Both he and his sister, Leia, are indoor/outdoor cats. Back in Texas, our backyard was enclosed with a high enough privacy fence to keep them inside. It was pretty remarkable to watch Leia, with the grace and quickness of a sleek athlete, leap onto the tree, run across a bough, walk over the roof of the shed, tightrope across the top of the fence, and proceed to sunbathe on our roof during nice days, in the blink of an eye. Try as she might, from the vantage point of the roof, she could not figure out a way to get down safely on the outside of the fence. Luke’s attempts were less impressive. He’s a chubby, older cat who would try to climb the tree and follow his sister’s footsteps. Perhaps it was his excess weight or his sedentary habits, but he never made it to the bough, let alone the roof. He preferred to sunbathe from the safety of the grass. Some of his attempts were sadly comical and unless chased by Khaleesi or one of our daughters, he rarely made the attempt after our initial move-in.

Our home in Annapolis includes an enclosed backyard, but the fence is low enough to have conversations with neighbors from time to time. When we first let the cats out to the backyard, they quickly realized they could easily slip out, should they choose to, because it’s a straight jump to the top of the fence. In the beginning, they would explore the neighborhood, mostly by tight-roping along the fence and continuing, observing backyard after backyard, then returning home. Essentially, they would take themselves out for a walk and they both seemed happy with this freedom. When they wanted in, they came back in. Since I’m home, letting them in and out was never an issue.

Until now.

If you’ve ever met Luke the cat, the first thing you’d notice is the frequency of his meow. It goes on and on, and he’s always meowed like that. Always. Ever since I adopted him and Leia, brother and sister from the same litter, from an animal shelter in Seattle, he would meow constantly. Whenever he goes to the vet, that’s the most frequent comment. “He’s so vocal!” Yes, he certainly is. I chose him because it seemed like he was calling to me from his cage. When I saw Leia sleeping behind him and read they were brother and sister, I adopted the pair. I would never have noticed Leia without Luke.

His meow may be his most obvious trait, but next to that is his affection. I’ve never known an animal to hug the way Luke does. He will wrap his paws around your neck, wrap his legs around you too, and purr into your ear, melting against you with his deep, affectionate hug. He is happiest being around the family, including Khaleesi. Generally speaking, he’s pretty good with tolerating little hands learning how to “pet nice,” at least better than Leia who will accept one or two fumbling hair-pulling caresses before removing herself from reach of the children. Luke just wants love and food.

I thought he was in the house, honestly, I thought he was here somewhere. I remember him coming back in. He had acted a little weird the last few days, and now I’m fearing the worst. How old is he? I wondered. When I adopted him eight years ago, he was of unknown age. I’ve searched the house. I’ve searched in the backyard. To Leia’s annoyance, I’ve stopped letting her out. I’ve scoured the neighborhood, calling his name. I’ve peered underneath the deck, but it’s hard. Andy has seen him duck under there from time to time, even though I think he would be too big to fit. I’ve looked at our streets, at our sidewalks, at the bushes adorning our neighbors’ homes.

The temperature is dropping and he’s not acclimated to freezing temperatures. He hasn’t come home. I don’t know where he is. I’ve asked neighbors and though they have seen him walk himself up and down the neighborhood atop of their fences, they haven’t seen him recently, but they’ll keep an eye out.

During his last vet appointment, I was told that he was considered an elderly cat. His age is uncertain, but he’s old. He’s clinically obese. Although his labs didn’t show it yet, he had early indicators for feline diabetes. Yet, when he would play outside, he didn’t seem old. He would seem happy, happiest especially when lying on the deck or the grass feeling the sun warm his fur.

I know that cats when they’re ready to pass will hide. This behavior is driven by instinct, because in the wild, a sick, elderly, or otherwise ailing animal becomes easy prey. I don’t know if he’s hiding somewhere, or if some other family found him and thought he was a stray. He tends to slip his neck out of his collar, so he could be collarless.

I pray that he’s safe and warm with another family. I pray that I will find him meowing at our back door like we always did. I pray that he didn’t leave to hide someplace so he could die in solitude. I pray that we find him.


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