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Miskin - One Year Later


(Back to Part I)
(Back to Part II)
(Jump to Part IV - A Year and a Half Later)

January 1, 2015

It has now been a bit over 14 months since we picked up our new/old cat Miskin at the local Humane Society, and over a year since I wrote Part II of his story. A year ago, he was getting comfortable exploring our apartment, and learning to share the space with our cats Tejitu and Tilahun. They're still not best buddies - but he and Tejitu both sleep on the bed sometimes during the day, carefully ignoring each other, and generally staying at least 8 inches apart. And he sometimes joins Tilahun on the sofa in our home office/guest space - again respecting her space by staying a foot away most of the time, and waiting for her to walk away from her food dish before checking for leftovers. Usually.☺

Miskin looking out a windowHe likes exploring closets, and rooms with doors that are usually closed. And even though Teji and Tilahun both like going outside to sleep on the porch or in the sunny spot by the side of the garage when the weather is nice, Miskin never seemed especially interested in the door to the outside world. We were a bit surprised at that, because he had been quite the rover in his younger days (see Part I) - but pleased that he liked being a housecat now. Because we do have a cat door, and he could go out if he wanted, we did take him out a couple of times - initially with a harness in case he got spooked, and a couple of other times when we were working in the yard and could watch him. And he explored the porch, and the area under the porch, and a bit of the lawn and driveway - and was ready to go back in.

We took all three cats in for their annual checkups on a Friday in mid-December, and said that Miskin was an indoor cat - which the vet agreed was a good thing, as he has some stiffness in his back legs - and not many teeth. Sunday morning, two days later, when Charlie came back from getting the newspaper - Miskin was on the porch. He had been more interested in the porch lately, and had occasionally dashed out between our legs - and happily come back in once he discovered it was cold out there - so we figured he dashed out when Charlie left a few minutes earlier. Charlie let him in, and he happily had his second or third breakfast. After breakfast, we looked out - and he was on the porch. We let him back in. And a few minutes later, with what I swear was a nonchalant "I'm just going to the office" look, he wandered into the entryway - and out through the cat door! After living with us for over a year, and completely ignoring the cat door after looking out a couple of times and deciding the view was boring and it was a chilly place to sit - two days after we tell the vet he's an indoor cat - he decides to become a cat who comes and goes!

Learning to come in took longer. He has issues with his hind legs, so can't jump high enough to get to the outdoor platform for the cat door - so we decided to hope there weren't any raccoons watching, and moved a little table over next to it so he could hop to the table, then up to the platform. (One of the reasons we have a high platform with a wall around it is that there are raccoons around, and while they are great climbers, they're not jumpers.) And for a day or so, any time we noticed him on the porch, we'd go out, plop him up to the table, then up to the platform, then push the cat door open so he could come in. And after a few days, he was coming and going on his own. As far as we could tell, he did some exploring in the yard, but didn't go far and didn't stay out that long - and still spent most of the time sleeping on the bed or the sofa.

The three pictures show: (1) the original cat door, which was way too accessible to raccoons, as we learned to our dismay; (2) the revised version - which was a whole lot harder to get into, and which stopped the nightly raccoon trek to our kitchen to check the cat bowls; and (3) what we have now, with a step for Miskin.

original cat door raccoon-resistant cat door

Miskin-friendly cat door

We really didn't like this new development - but Miskin is a short-haired cat and likes warm places - and this is winter in Maine - so we figured he'd mostly hang out on the porch for a few minutes, then come back in and curl up next to the heater - which he did for the first week. Then on the 28th, a week after he started letting himself out, when we got up at 7 am - he was gone. He'd been on the bed at 1 am, so left sometime in the night or early morning. It was relatively warm (around 40F/5C) - but had started raining at some point during the night, and was raining fairly hard by the time we went out looking for him shortly after 7 am. We searched the neighborhood, called local shelters, put up posters - the whole nine yards. No Miskin. The rain stopped in late morning, and we again searched and called his name, thinking he'd come out now that it was sunny and warm. No Miskin.

After four days, I was giving up hope. We'd had several very cold days and even colder nights, and we'd both spent a lot of time, day and night, walking around the neighborhood calling, and walking through the vacant lots and semi-woodsy areas nearby, and shining flashlights into nooks and crannies hoping to see the flash of his eyes. We'd put one of his beds on the porch to help him orient himself (a suggestion of one of the rescue groups who noted that his sense of smell was probably better than his vision at this point). And whenever I fed the other cats, I took the can on the porch in the hopes he'd hear me open it, or smell it while I walked around the parking area with it - and come for a share. And last night I had a bit of a cry before I went to bed.

Miskin Found posterAbout 1 am, Charlie woke up, and, half-asleep, reached to pat the cat curled up beside him, expecting to find long-haired Tejitu - and felt short hair - at which he immediately woke up completely! Teji is very long-haired, and Tilahun's hair is finer, but also quite long (and she doesn't usually sleep on the bed) - Miskin is the only one with short hair.

After a good look, he woke me up. ☺

We have no clue where Miskin had been - but he was back. ♡

I think he's lost a bit of weight (not a bad thing as he was a bit plump), and he might have a touch of frostbite on his ears - but other than that, he seems fine.

We both think this is a wonderful way to start the new year! (And I'm guessing Miskin does too!)

Surprisingly, at least to me, while he's spent almost all day sleeping, he has gone out the cat door twice, and come back in as soon as we opened the door and called him. And he doesn't know this yet - but we're going to close him in the kitchen/bedroom area tonight so he won't be able to get to the area with the cat door.

I think we'll all sleep better that way.

Miskin on the bed

Happy New Year!