One Cat Builds A Community - In Her Absence

The homeowners and renters in the condo complex where my wife and I live are (for the most part) friendly enough. We smile as we quickly skirt by one other in the hall or down in the garage. But, aside from addressing agenda items during periodic homeowners association meetings, I’ve never thought of us as a “community.”

This changed dramatically three days ago when one of our families noticed that their 21-year-old tabby, Blossom, went missing.

Blossom’s “mom,” now in her mid-20s, was four years old when the frisky feline came into her life. As she probably does not remember life without the family mascot, the thought of not finding her must have been unbearable.

The family searched every conceivable nook in the house - high shelves, closets, drawers, the dusty crawlspace behind the refrigerator - to no avail. Neighbors with dogs offered to come over to the distraught family’s home to see if their pooches could “sniff” Blossom out. At one point, the family even summoned the fire department to check the rain gutters which were filled only with cobwebs.

When the indoor search was exhausted, thoughts turned to the possibility she got out. But how? And why? In all her years with her family, Blossom never showed the slightest inclination to venture outdoors. Still, the possibility could not be dismissed. Hearts sank. Being an indoor cat, Blossom was never “chipped.”

I received news of Blossom’s absence from the flier posted above the mailboxes in the lobby this past Monday evening. We’ve all seen too many of these fliers stapled or taped to lamp posts or telephone poles, the faded pictures and writing streaked by tears and rain.

Soon after greeting my wife, I set out, flashlight in hand, to scour the perimeter of our complex in hopes of finding Blossom. I was not alone. Several other neighbors, some of whom clashed over homeowners association agenda items, were working together with a single purpose in mind: making one family whole again.

Upon homecoming Tuesday night, there was still no word - just an opened tin of Blossom’s favorite food resting on the front steps of the complex. I began to think the unthinkable: Blossom had crawled away to die.

Not so! It turned out that Blossom found a special, inconspicuous spot on the rooftop patio where she effectively chilled for a few days.

I returned home to a view of the dreaded “missing” flier that was now scrawled over and over again with the same gleeful word: “FOUND,” along with a profuse expression of thanks.

One family was “whole” again. And I came away with a new definition of “extended family.”