So, I don’t know that I’ve mentioned it before, but you know that big, expensive fence we had put around the backyard SPECIFICALLY so that the cats could go outside every day, and we wouldn’t have to worry about them running away? Well, everything was just fine until a few weeks ago when a neighborhood cat happened to hop over the fence and run across the yard to the back section of fence, which he also hopped over and took off for parts unknown. Seeing the cat hop over the fence like that apparently took the blinders from Fancypants’ eyes and it occurred to him that perhaps HE TOO could do something really awesome like hop the fence, and then the world would be his fancy little oyster. So he started hopping up on top of the fence, and when he’d hear the door shut, or see one of us come outside, he’d hop down like the BAD BAD BAD kitty he was, and he’d swish around and do his girly, high-pitched meow and we’d all get over it.

Then he progressed from sitting atop the fence to jumping over into the neighbors’ backyard, but again – if he heard us calling or heard the door shut, he’d come running, because I believe in the very back of his tiny, fancy mind he knows how good he’s got it here. And then it started taking longer for him to mosey his ass home. Sometimes it would be a good half hour or so before we could see his face at the window, or hear him meowing. But he always showed up.

It occurred to us to just stop opening the door in the morning, to make all the cats stay inside but first off, the entire REASON we got the damn fence is so the cats could go outside, and secondly, ALL the cats like going out to bask in the sunshine and pee in the grass, and should the others be punished because of one fancy little bastard? I think not.

Last night, Fred went out at dusk to wrangle all the cats inside. There was no one out there but Miz Poo, whom he picked up and carried inside. It was an hour or so before we realized that Fancypants wasn’t inside – you know, with five cats, you tend not to notice at first if one isn’t around – and Fred said "You know, I don’t remember seeing him when I got home this afternoon, either." I thought about it and realized that I hadn’t seen him since I shut the door that morning around 10. And I was home all day except for about a 20 minute period, so if he’d been wanting inside, I would have seen or heard him.

We started watching Survivor, and took turns going outside and calling for him during commercials. By the end of Survivor, we were starting to get concerned. We went out and drove along the road on the other side of the back part of our fence (we can’t get to the other side of the fence without going around the neighborhood, because there’s a fence around the entire perimeter of the subdivision). We were happy to see no dead black cats by the side of the road, and so we came home again to call for him. Fred even got out the big guns – the treat container – and shook it loudly, but still no Fancypants.

We discussed the various and sundry things that could be keeping him from home, and then decided to not worry about it, sure that he’d eventually make his way back home.

The problem, at least in my mind, is that he’s a fairly aggressive cat, and when there’s a cat fight in the house, he’s involved 99.873% of the time. If he was out prowling the neighborhood and ran into another cat, chances were good that he’d attack, and since he’s a fairly skinny cat and has no front claws, that could be a problem. I was also worried that he’d been hit by a car and taken to a vet, and since he wasn’t wearing a collar (shaddup) they wouldn’t know who to call. And then, of course, there was always the possibility that someone had called Animal Control on him.

On the other hand, I suggested, perhaps someone saw him, thought he was a pretty cat (instead of the shitting-outside-the-litter-box bastard he really is) and taken him inside their house to love and adore him.

Anyway, Fred went upstairs to harass the spud and read at 8:00, and I stayed downstairs surfing the web, and getting up every twenty minutes or so to see if the wayward son had returned. He hadn’t by 9:00, and so I went upstairs to lay down and talk with Fred until he went off to bed NO LATER THAN 9:42, and then I came back downstairs to watch the episodes of Friends and ER I’d taped. (Side note on ER: Not sure if I much care for Susan Lewis this time ’round, but it’s too early to be sure. And did you see the previews for next week? Are Lewis and Carter going to get together? I just think of her as being way too old for him, though I don’t suppose she really is).

And then, let me quote from my email to Moira, which I sent off before I went to bed around 11:30:

Well, the little bastard is home again. I was on the couch watching Friends, and I glanced over at the door, and Miz Poo was staring out the window, and there on the other side was Mr. Fancypants, untouched and unharmed. I opened the door and said “NICE TO SEE YOU, Fancypants!”, and he swished in, his big fancy tail a-fluttering.

I think I’m going to get his ass a collar with a nametag on it just in case this happens again. I’d hate it if something happened to him and no one knew he has a home.

And so I did. I stopped at the brand-spanking-new Petco (which they built near the brand-spanking-new Target) and got him a collar and tag, along with a nice bag of organic catnip for all the kitties. Tonight, after cake and ice cream and presents, perhaps we’ll gather all the kitties around, sprinkle catnip on the floor, and laugh our asses off.