It is very safe to say that my cat Champagne almost gave me a heart attack this afternoon. These past few days she has been exploring the balcony and visiting the neighbors, which was no problem because they -and their two cats- were away on holiday. They returned yesterday and much to the cats’ horror, they met this flat-nosed ball of fluff next door who was extremely curious. After a few minutes of snooping around, or even half an hour, Champagne always comes home for a long nap somewhere, and I always know where she is because of her snoring.

Today things were very different. By 4:00pm I realized that I hadn’t seen her in a while and called her to eat or even for her usual drink of water from the sink. No response. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I figured she might be hidden in a closet and fast asleep. By 6:00pm there was still no Champagne and I got worried because she didn’t respond to any of the usual calls. I then rang the neighbor’s bell to ask whether my absconding cat had perhaps found her way into their apartment, and was told that their cats are so scared of Champagne that they would have said something immediately.

The other neighbor who always walks her baby at that time also said she hadn’t seen Champagne either, and so the search was on. With all the dogs in the neighborhood I had good cause to worry, especially since she doesn’t have a sense of orientation yet. If she ran into a fox or a raccoon, or even the swans, I don’t think she would even know what to do. I walked over the bridge and asked the fisherman if he had seen Champagne and even showed him a picture. No luck.

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Stranger Danger ©MTHerzog

My house guest arrived in the meantime and we sat down for dinner. The doorbell rang and it was the neighbors who were a bit agitated, asking if I had found my cat. When I said no they replied by saying that they had heard a sorrowful meowing out on the street, that I should run down immediately to check it out. Down I ran, only to find the downstairs neighbor squatting on the pavement, trying to coax her cat out from under the car. Disappointed, I mumbled “oh, the wrong cat” (with my upstairs neighbor behind me). The woman turned around and asked if I happened to be looking for a fluffy three-colored Persian with big eyes. Yes! She shouted through the open window to her husband “Frank! Open the door, the owner of the Persian cat is here. Let her in so that our cat can come back home!” The black-and-white kitty, as it turned out, had staged a protest walk-out because Champagne had landed on their balcony and was trying to get into their apartment.

I rescued my delinquent cat, who was not happy to see me at all, and is still giving me a dirty look for ending her escapade. But she was happy to be fed and be granted access to the water tap again. Who would have thought that my little ball of fluff, the new cat on the block, would turn out to be the source of fear!