Raji and Wendy’s Great Adventure

An alternative title to this post would be The Great Escape. Be assured this story has a happy ending, although the experience probably shaved a few years off my life.

Last Sunday I was minding my own business, sitting in front of my computer checking email, when I heard my husband calling for Raji and rattling the dry food container. I thought to myself, “Why is he doing that? He gave all of them lunch just an hour ago.” At that moment, I turned to my window which looks out onto our deck. I saw Raji’s ginger-striped bum sliding between two of my potted plants. I didn’t react at first. I only remember thinking, “Oh.”

Then my heart made a nose-dive to my stomach. I ran to my husband who was outside, trying to encourage Raji to turn around and come back inside the house. Quietly he told me that Wendy had also gotten out. He had managed to sequester Junior in one of the back rooms, all while I was busy reading and writing emails.

Naturally, I was calm and not at all worried. HA! I call BS on that!

I was totally freaked out. I ran around to the front of the house where Greg had last seen Wendy. I couldn’t find her. At all. I hurried to the back yard where Greg was still talking to Raji as our little innocent kitty explored. For the next two-and-a-half hours, we followed Raji as he investigated the perimeter of our property, occasionally jumping a fence to a neighbor’s yard.

Meanwhile, Wendy had disappeared.Β 

Every so often I’d return to the front of our house, walk a ways up and down our street, calling her name. All our doors were open, including the garage door, an invitation for them to return. Junior continued to protest, shut up in the back room, his voice plaintive and distant.

We couldn’t get close to Raji. Generally he doesn’t like to be picked up so we knew if we rushed him, he would run away from us. At one point, he started talking to me and seemed frustrated by his attempts to get back in our yard. While he could jump onto our neighbor’s chain-link fence, he didn’t like the fences and kept trying to find ways around them. Finally he was back in our yard and he ran up to the back porch! Unfortunately, he went to the one unopened screen door, the screen door that we rarely use because the porch has settled over the last thirty years, and the door is difficult to open and close.

It started to rain.

At first, just sprinkles and then a downpour. By this time, Greg had gotten the other screen door open but Raji was sheltering under a group of ferns. I went back to the front of the house. Still no sign of Wendy.

I sat down on a stool and tried to think of what to do next. I had alerted our neighbors across the street, and I managed to put an alert on the Nextdoor app. Raji seemed to want to stay close by, for which I was grateful, but I was perplexed that Wendy had simply disappeared. Greg came around to the front, and we started to talk about next steps.

As we talked, I heard a small noise. I looked at Greg. He had heard it too, but couldn’t tell where it came from. I started to call for Wendy and then heard a distinct “Meow.” She was in the garage, but where? We couldn’t see her. We were cautious in how we looked for her, not wanting to make any loud noise or sudden movement. My fear was that she would get spooked and run off.

Finally, I looked into the recesses under Greg’s work bench. Wendy was sitting in the middle of a considerable amount of clutter, behind a large board that was propped against the bench. She had chosen the one spot where she couldn’t be seen. Greg moved the board, and Wendy looked at us like she couldn’t imagine what the fuss was all about. We closed up the garage, keeping our eyes on Wendy in case she decided to bolt. She didn’t.

Once Wendy was safe, I went inside our house to close the French doors that opened onto our back porch. As I started to close one of the doors, Raji sauntered in. Yes, he sauntered. In disbelief, I watched him cross the back porch and enter the dining room, acting as if nothing had happened. I immediately closed up the house and let Junior rejoin us.

How did this happen?

We know that our cats, Raji in particular, enjoy hanging out in the garage. I don’t know why. They just do. A side door off the garage leads to the great outdoors. We keep it closed for the most part, but, sometimes, especially when, for whatever reason, one of us is going in and out, the side door is left open for convenience.

Greg was going in and out, taking care of some minor yard work. He was on his way out again and didn’t see that Raji and Wendy were right at his heels. By the time he realized they were in the garage and the side door was wide open, it was too late. Junior was also following the group, but he’s not as quick as he used to be, so Greg was able to grab him and put him back in the house.

Lesson learned

Keep the side garage door closed at all times, and make sure we know where the kids are before entering the garage.

Theories as to why we didn’t lose our cats

Wendy probably never ventured far. The garage is a safe place for her. After we first got her in August 2013, we had a couple of episodes where she escaped through the front door. The trick to getting her back was to open the garage door. At the sound of that door opening, she would hurry back to us. And it’s likely that when it started to rain, she came back to the garage for shelter. She just didn’t bother to let us know right away.

Raji probably wondered where we had gone. For over two hours, we had been calling and talking to him, following him around. Then, all of a sudden, we were no longer there. As long as we were talking to him, he was content to be outside. But I think it worried him when he no longer knew where we were. He had to come inside to find us.

We are still amazed at our good fortune: that our kids didn’t go far, that they came back inside of their own accord, and that the horrible experience (for me and my husband) only lasted a few hours. We are also grateful for what this experience showed us: that our cats are truly domesticated, that they will choose home if given the choice.

I don’t think I could go through something like this again, though. I felt utterly helpless. My husband felt deeply guilty. Neither of us wanted to imagine life without Wendy or Raji.

Thank you for reading. Here’s a few post-adventure photos. Well, actually the first one is pre-adventure, taken the morning of.

Raji and Junior in the window.
Raji catching up on his naps. Yes, those are my feet, and that is Wendy’s fleecy blanket he is lying on.
Wendy still not understanding what all the fuss is about. She just wants to snooze.
Junior, my beautiful big green-eyed boy.

45 thoughts on “Raji and Wendy’s Great Adventure

  1. So glad for the happy ending, Marie! Whew! And I’m glad you told us at the beginning. I don’t think I could have handled the anxiety, not knowing if they were safe or not. These kitties keep us on our toes!

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    1. Thank you, Jo! Oh, indeed, I felt that I had to let the reader know up front that everything turned out okay. And, yes, they are keeping us alert πŸ˜‰


  2. I’m so glad they came back. Poor Junior missed out on all the fun. I think you are right that your cats are domesticated. They obviously love their home. Thanks for sharing the story, Marie.

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  3. PO gets out every now and then and ignores me when I call but if I do something with my back to her, don’t call her, move off and keep my back to her, go in the house for a bit come out to rearrange pots or something but keep my back to her even as she comes in front of me.. the little bugger bodyslams my leg and BEGS to be picked up. Whole performance takes 15 min. I don’t understand cats, just live with them. Glad it shook out well there.

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  4. My heart is pounding so hard. I know how scary it is. I am so happy they are all back together with you. We lost our two boys Milo and Buster back in early April and we think coyotes may have gotten them. I still can’t look at their pictures without crying. So happy they are back home. πŸˆβ€β¬›πŸ₯°πŸˆβ€β¬›

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    1. Thank you! I remember you writing about your lost boys. Actually, I was thinking of you when I wrote upfront that everyone was fine. Losing your furbabies under any circumstances is so painful, but I think it must be particularly so when they just disappear. Many years ago a cat we had adopted suddenly disappeared. He’d been having some sinus problems which our vet wasn’t able to resolve. Yet he seemed otherwise healthy. Unfortunately, he was an outdoor cat because one of our indoor cats hated him (they would fight viciously). Still he stayed close to home, enjoyed his several meals a day, and often hung out in the garage, so we didn’t worry about him. Then one day he was no longer around. I spent time with him that morning before I went to school, noted that his sniffling was back, and that was it. I never saw him again. We looked for him, talked to neighbors. Zip. All we could figure is that he was ill and so decided to go off somewhere to die. We have had no closure and that hurts still. I’m so terribly sorry about what you’re going through.

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  5. We kittie lovers often have to go through some very anxious moments if one of our loves disappears. So thankful they came back home but oh, how those anxiety-filled moments when you don’t know where they are tear you apart. Thanks, Marie, for sharing your feline story!

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  6. We have a couple of smaller dogs and a doggie door that they use to go in and out. For a period of time, one of our sons lived with us. He has a cat. He assured us that his cat (named Magellan) wouldn’t go out the doggie door. Until the day he did. I mean he named his cat after a great explorer, what do you think he’s going to do? Fortunately, he never went far, preferring to stay near the doggie door.

    His other habit was to find a place in the house to hide — frequently in our closet, hiding behind the shoes and clothes.

    Cats are interesting beasts.

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    1. Raji is a great one for hiding, especially in high places like the top of bookcases or the top shelf of a closet. Also, the color of his fur blends so well with our hardwood floor and bookcases that sometimes we don’t see him when he’s right in front of us. Drives me nuts πŸ˜‰

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  7. I’m so glad this story has a happy ending. I love the photo of Raj and Junior at the window.

    Once my Ricky got out at night, and we didn’t realize it until the next morning. It took us a couple of days to lure him back because we didn’t know where he was. I think our neighbors were away and had taken their dog, and he hid under their deck. We finally camped out in our backyard at dusk with food, a litter box, a sweaty shirt of mine. . .and he came back. This was several years ago when we had three cats. I ugly-cried till we got him back.

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    1. I don’t even want to imagine the experience of any of my cats being away overnight. I know in my heart that they would come back, at least once they were hungry. Still, I think cats are more difficult to entice home than are dogs. I’m so glad Ricky came to his senses and returned home πŸ˜‰ Nothing beats a warm, dry place to sleep and food more or less on demand.

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  8. We’ve always had cats that go outside. Except now. My daughter doesn’t want her Omelette to go out because she will be moving and taking her with her and from an apartment, won’t let her out. But boy does she want to. Especially because my son’s cat does go out!
    Glad you got your kids back!

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    1. We’ve always preferred to keep our cats indoors. When I was a kid, living in the country, my cats were indoor/outdoor because my mom didn’t want to deal with a litter box ;-). But around here, there are too many threats. Plus, no matter how well we feed them, they’ll still kill birds 😦

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  9. Wendy reminds me so much of my cat I had in law school before I married a very allergic-to-cats husband. And how cool that Raji has come to love his home with y’all so much that he returned! I do appreciate your putting “the rest of the story” at the beginning of the post so we wouldn’t be so worried. πŸ™‚

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  10. I can understand why you were so worried, having had two house kitties back in the day. I’m glad this worked out as well as it did, and have no doubt you’ll keep them safe in the future. As for the casual return… he was just testing you.

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  11. That was way too much excitement and I’m very glad your Raji and Wendy sauntered in when they did. Good golly! My two have never made an attempt to heading outdoors. Well, Zoe has stuck her nose out of the door a couple times. They both love to get out in the garage but they’re also pretty good at accepting a no to the garage if I’m wearing shoes and I tell them I’m going to open the big scary door.

    I had a ginger Tom when I was in school. He stayed with my old roommate over the weekend a few times and hated it there. He hated traveling more. But he pushed the window and screen out of my friend’s house and made off. Frantic searching and a guy who announced it on the radio got someone to call it in and they kept him in sight till I got there. These were the days long, long before cell phones. He came right to me and was pleased he got to go home.

    The moral of these stories are – they’re cats. They live to make our heads explode.

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  12. Cats do exist to make our heads explode! My mutt-Siamese Renfield (he loved bugs) used to rip-snort through my house every night around 8:45. It was his thing. Back and forth, back and forth. One night, he varied it and jumped onto a window sill. Sadly (or a good thing?), the window was open. He hit the screen and flew out into the Montana night.

    He was not an outdoor cat!

    Luckily, when I ran after him, he was sitting under the window looking at me like, “What the heck just happened?”

    Glad your cute critters are okay!

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