Playing Cat Detective

While we were on vacation, our lovely neighbors came over every day to feed Smithy and check on the chickens. When we got back, there was a half-eaten can of food on the porch so all seemed well. 

Fast forward several days, and no one had seen the cat. 

The food was still being nibbled (though not devoured), so we alternated between being nervous that he ran away and feeling confident that Smithy was lurking around but hiding. 

So by Thursday we set up the iPad to film a time lapse video of his food throughout night (which is when the nibbling usually occurred). We knew something was eating the food, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a raccoon or skunk (which have managed to squeeze through the cat door in the past). 

In the morning we eagerly looked over our evidence:


Did you miss it? Right around the 10-second mark, there’s a flash of...something. It goes by so fast that the kids missed it, but I slowed it down to a frame by frame:




That’s Smithy, all right! 

So why was he hiding from us? My theory is that he might have been spooked my our neighbor coming around — Smithy doesn’t love men, for starters.

I also checked in with my friend Suzanne, who rescues and rehomes cats in Philadelphia (you can donate to that effort here). She suggested that he could be scared by the change in routine, which definitely made sense: Smithy is a creature of habit, to the point that I know exactly when sanctioned "petting hours" are. 

Anyway, she suggested hitting the bricks with an open can of food and calling for him around the perimeter of the yard once the rain stopped. The idea here was to lure him with the delicious scent of tuna and let him know that people he likes are back in the territory.

And it worked like a charm! Within minutes, we was hopping the fence and meowing for his breakfast. By mid-morning, he was napping in the office chair:


So things are back to normal, thanks to a bit of detective work and some good advice.

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