A Night From Hell!

OK, I am definitely a sappy pet person! You know how people say that pets are a part of the family? Well, they are and there is nothing like realizing that our beloved cat. Montgomery, who has been with us for 13 years, was gone to make us really miss and appreciate him!

What a stressful night it was! As I was falling into bed around 10 pm, completely exhausted, I realized that I hadn’t seen Montgomery in a few hours. He usually comes to sleep with us and he was nowhere to be found.

I called our housekeeper to see when she last saw him. “Around 6 pm when Siena’s friend’s dad came to by. But then Jade came home and left the door open. Maybe he ran away then.”

Great! How many times have I told everyone to close the door and if there is an accident and they forget, to check that Montgomery is there? I was exhausted but headed outside to look for our cat in the dark. He was nowhere to be found and an hour and a half later, I was pretty disheartened. And so, so tired. The few times he has escaped in the past, he always came back, meowing to us to let him in.

I decided to ask the guards in our conjunto to keep an eye out for him and to come wake me when they see him, no matter what time it is. “Si, senora,” they replied.

I went home to get some sleep. It was after midnight and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Plus, Montgomery was bound to come back.

I woke up at 3:24 am and went downstairs to see if Montgomery has come back. Nope. Now I was getting really worried. Where could he be?

I called my poor husband who was in Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris waiting for his flight back to Colombia. I tearfully told him what had happened to which he replied, “What? You have to get out there and look until you find him. He might get run over by a neighbor’s car in the morning once everybody is leaving for work.”

Yikes! I hadn’t thought of that. So I put on my sneakers and stumbled out of the house in my pajamas. I immediately ran into a guard who informed me that he had seen Montgomery half an hour earlier. I asked him why he didn’t come to wake me up as I had asked? He just stared at me without responding. Really? Is that the best he could do?

I asked the guard for a flashlight and spent the next three hours looking in every backyard, under all the covered patio furniture and under every car in our 94 house, 160+ car conjunto. I scoured the huge park calling Montgomery’s name softly so as to not wake the neighbors. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Cats are notoriously skilled at hiding and moving quickly. I was cold and wet from the dew at this point and kept calling my husband in Paris for encouragement. Poor guy! All he could do was sit there and stress!

By 6:20 am, I had no choice but to temporarily suspend my search and go wake up the kids for school. I was pretty discouraged at this point! I was sure that I would find Montgomery once the sun was up but there seemed to be no trace of him.

As soon as Siena, our seven year old, opened her eyes, she took one look at me and said, “Why are you wearing your jacket?” I told her that I was out looking for Montgomery. She took it pretty well and came down for breakfast.

Jade, our ten year old, did not take it so well, on the other hand. “What? Montgomery is lost?“ she cried. “Will we find him? I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home and help you look.”

“I do too,” Siena chimed in.

OK. We had a quick breakfast and hit the conjunto. Our nanny and housekeeper showed up and we all spread out, trying to cover the whole conjunto simultaneously. Again, we looked in every backyard and rang every doorbell. Nobody had seen Montgomery. Our next door neighbor said that she saw him around 8:30 pm the night before, meowing to get back into the house. Oh, we felt terrible! We didn’t even know he was gone at that point!

“Be careful. Some of the kids in this conjunto are mean. They could have gotten him,” she said.

“The real danger is that somebody could have taken him. He is a beautiful purebreed so they would take him and try to sell him,” a friend said.

I felt awful, picturing Montgomery taken by some mean, abusive human who would mistreat him and then sell him. And what would happen when they fed him regular food and he started throwing up everywhere? (Montgomery has Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

I know that I sound slightly ridiculous given all the human suffering in the world, but Montgomery was our first baby before the girls came along. He sleeps with us. He waits for us to get home and then greets us at the door. He has dinner with us (OK, he begs for food off the table).

Anyway, we scoured our conjunto and the conjuntos next door. We even hiked the public lands behind the conjunto, calling for Montgomery. We kept walking until Jade said, “You know this river goes all the way to Bogota.”

We came back home and made flyers with a 150,000COP reward (about $80 and a weeks’ worth of salary for a guard or a gardener) and pasted them nearby. By this point, Montgomery had been gone for 20 hours and I was losing faith that we would ever find him. The only positive thing was that the reward seemed to have spurred people into action. Guards, gardeners, and dog walkers were looking for him everywhere!

Money talks. Twenty-one hours after Montgomery was last seen in our house, we received a phone call. “I have a cat here which fits your description. I am not sure if it’s your cat and he is very skittish. He was hard to catch and he scratched my companero. My companero is now locked up in the bathroom with him so he won’t escape again.”

“We will be right there.” Having just gotten out of the shower, I wasn’t dressed so our housekeeper, along with Jade and Siena, ran to the conjunto the man mentioned (across a super busy street and a few conjuntos into town). I stayed behind waiting for a phone call, praying it was Montgomery. What if it wasn’t? And the girls were so excited at the prospect of being reunited with their beloved cat!

All is well that ends well. It was indeed Montgomery! Our housekeeper apparently screamed out in joy when she saw him. I ran towards him and almost cried as I hugged him tightly to me. We were all so happy to see him!

I reminded myself of how much I missed him 15 hours later, when he woke me up at 5 am, meowing for food. “Shhh,” I sad. “Let me sleep. There is dry food downstairs.” But I was so happy to have him back!

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