On Sunday, I and my wife Joanna were both out, somewhat unusually. She was visiting Estonia with her parents (it's a short ferry trip across), and I was attending that zazenkai. That means that our cat and dog were home alone.
The dog is a border terrier named Jekku, which is Finnish for Prank. He's terribly good-natured but perhaps a bit excitable. Sometimes there are little dog-events waiting if he's been housesitting. Nothing drastic; perhaps a sock left lying around that's met an early end, a waste paper basket excavated, or some mail shredded. Consequently, he's had some practice with his "It's not my fault! I didn't do it! It was an accident! It fell by itself!" look.
When I got home, Jekku was waiting for me wearing that "I'm in big trouble now!" face. Big-time. Flat on the ground, huge eyes, tail between the legs, ears back. I took a quick look around, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. All shoes present and correct. No emptied paper baskets. No shredded socks. Not even a crumpled-up rug. (He likes to crumple up rugs to make a little pillow for himself.)
I shrugged and took him for his walk. And wondered how come he was so well-behaved. Walking at my left like on parade. No jumping after exciting smells. Only half-hearted greetings to the neighborhood dogs. No misbehavior whatsoever.
We get back home. I check around again. Everything still peaceful and in order. I feed him, and get to my computer to do my usual Internet-y stuff.
Then my wife comes home.
"Hey, is the cat with you?"
"No, I think she's in the wardrobe."
The cat had a difficult start to life. She was discovered in a hedge on a farm when no longer a very small kitten. The farmer would've drowned her, but a cat-person rescued her and her siblings, and then we adopted her. As a result, she's a bit on the cautious side, to put it mildly. She's totally at ease with us by now, but if there's someone at the door, she goes to one of her safe places. She also plays head games with the dog, cuddling up to him and giving him little kisses, then whacking him upside the head and running away so he'll chase her, as she jumps on top of something and watches him run around in circles going "Where'd she go? Where'd she go?" like an idiot.
Joanna checks the wardrobe.
"Can't see her here."
"Did you check the rolled-up spare mattress?"
"Okay, I'll look around."
Not in the sock drawers. Not in the rolled-up mattress. Not on top of the washing machine. Not inside the dryer. Not behind the toilet seat. Not on top of the bookshelf. Not on any of the chairs under the table. Not under the bed.
Where the hell could she have gone?
We live in a flat in downtown Helsinki. It's ample for two people plus cat and dog, but it's not huge. There's a very limited number of hidey-holes, even for someone as naturally stealthy as a small, black cat who's practised being unseen since she was tiny. Plus it's winter, which means the windows are shut tight, and there really are no ways out big enough for a cat.
I check the bathroom again, and notice that the little wire grid thing we've put to block a hole where the water runs down into the drain under our bricked-in bathtub isn't in its place. Shit, I must've forgotten to replace it when cleaning. Maybe she's in there?
At this point, Jekku gets awfully agitated. Wants desperately to join the search party.
A flashlight is duly procured, and my wife peeks under the tub.
"There she is!"
I look. Sure enough, there's a baleful stare of green cat eyes reflected in the flashlight's glare.
Jekku is whining by now, flat on the ground, big worried eyes. "It's not me! I had nothing to do with it! She went there by herself! Please don't punish me! Please! Pretty please?"
We call out to Missy the cat. Cajole her. Leave her some treats outside that hole (and keep Jekku from eating them.) No luck. Cat stays there. "You've been mean to me, so I'm not coming out, and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"
Yeah. So we start thinking of contingency plans. What if we took a wooden ladle and banged on the tub to make a lot of noise? What if we took the shower and squirted some water under there? What if we removed the drain thingy and squirted water under the tub that way? Okay, all else failing we can take the filleting knife to cut the silicone that attaches the tub to the masonry and lift the whole thing out. Goddamn cat!
But we decide to have dinner first. Perhaps that's what got the cat hungry too, because she does come out in due course, looking very pleased with herself. The wire mesh is replaced, and all is well.
But the dog was acting terribly regretful all last night, and was very subdued around the cat today, too. "I was guarding the home and lost the cat! Big trouble! BIG trouble!"
The cat? Ignoring the dog, giving him the occasional disdainful glance.
And sitting by the now-covered hole under the tub, meowing.
Animals. Gotta love 'em. Maybe we should set up a webcam.