Lily: A Thanksgiving Story

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and my family and I are celebrating a reason to be truly thankful.

If you read the post about our new kitten, then you know we found him because of an unfortunate circumstance. On October 23, our shy, sweet Lily kitty went missing.

Lily lost

Our hope that she would turn up in hours turned into days. Then weeks. We took down flyers ruined by the weather and replaced them with laminated ones that would bear the elements.

I admit that I struggled to remain hopeful as we neared the completion of her fourth week missing. She gets scared of every little thing inside our own house, and I couldn’t imagine her exploring outside for long. She’d find a dark, tight hidey hole, and maybe–maybe–come out to hunt or to be fed by a friendly stranger.

I kept up my efforts to find her–hanging new flyers, updating posts on lost pet sites, and making trips to the shelter–more for my kids, especially my older son, who had become quite attached to her.

Last Saturday, my son was having an especially hard time dealing with Lily’s continued absence. He crawled into his bed in his dark room, his environment matching his mood. “I just wish Lily would come back,” he said.

I wished there was something I could do to make it better.

Then, just a few hours later, I received a comment on my post about Lily on my Nextdoor app.

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I called the number and found out this neighbor’s address: it was five houses up and across the street, farther up than we’d predicted Lily would go. But I wasn’t about to ignore this lead. I grabbed the cat carrier, and my son and I headed up the hill.

Now, before I continue the story, I have to set the scene. Our area was in the midst of a winter weather advisory, only it wasn’t one that involved snow. It involved freezing rain and fog. Our hill is a rather steep one, and this was several hours after sunset. So as much as we wanted to run up to see if Lily was there, we were forced to traipse through yards and take baby steps when yards weren’t available.

We made it to the neighbor’s house, and she led us to where the cat had been hiding. Fortunately, it was in a covered area, free of the mounting ice sheet. Unfortunately, we couldn’t access the hiding place. Only the cat could fit in the small space.

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The arrow is pointing to the lip she squeezed under to get to the hidey hole.

We could, however, squeeze our hands between the boards. We shook her treat box and called for her, setting treats on the edge of the deck. She meowed and crept to the treats, and for the first time, by twisting around and peering under the lip, we saw her.

It was our Lily!

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I had to weave my phone under the lip and hope it was the right angle to get this shot.

All we had to do was lure her out, put her in the carrier, and take her home. Except…

Remember how I said she was scared of everything? Back at home, when we had to take her to the vet, I had to trap her in a bathroom and wrap her in a towel to get her into a carrier.

Getting her to come out on her own would be a trick on a good day. And this was not that, meteorologically speaking.

So my son went back–slid back–to our house to get catnip and a few of her favorite toys. I stayed by the deck, calling for her and talking to her. The neighbor brought out canned tuna. Lily would go to the edge to eat then retreat back into her little cave.

The temperature kept dropping and the ice kept building. This cat wasn’t interested in facing that mess.

I left my son to call for her and I went home to plug my phone in after the cold killed my battery. I also obtained all the rock salt we had and sprinkled it on my way back up. Even with that, it was like

Winter Bambi GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Anyway, after a while (I honestly can’t say how long it was because I was so focused on getting Lily out) two things became apparent: she wasn’t coming out on her own, and walking on the building ice sheet was becoming increasingly hazardous.

We needed a humane trap, and we needed the ice to melt.

That meant leaving her under the deck, in the cold, for another night.

It felt like a bit of cruel karma for all the characters I’ve thrown rocks at in my books, but I digress.

When I got home, I realized how cold I was after lying on the sidewalk near that deck for so long. My legs hurt. I took a warm shower, and they felt just as cold after the fact. I struggled to sleep with the lingering cold in my limbs and with the knowledge that I couldn’t rescue my fur baby.

The next day, my husband settled by the deck to work on luring Lily out while my sons and I headed to the humane society to rent a trap (which took over an hour). He sent me pics while we were away.

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The little brown things are treats. That’s how close she was.

I returned with the trap to an amazing discovery–she was gone! After almost two hours of coaxing, my husband was able to grab her scruff and pull her out.

My Facebook peeps had been following all of this with great interest, so I posted the announcement I’d only hoped I could post until that moment.

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Lily has been readjusting to the house and to the new kitten. We took her to the vet, where we learned she’d lost weight but was otherwise healthy.

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My son starts his days with a big smile, greeting Lily and giving her treats before he does anything else. She’s been more snuggly than she was before her adventure.

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Our family is complete again, and I can’t think of a better Thanksgiving gift.

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