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The cats were confused, worried and unsettled.

It started out as a regular day on the Court.  The old man was up at 6:00, filled the bowls with canned wet food and topped off the dry crunchie-munchie bowls.  (To the cats the old man was the one who took care of them most of the time, the person they would go to when ever something needed to be dealt with, like a hair ball).  It was understood that he was here to wait on them.

None of the court cats paid attention when the old man put some clothes in a bag and went off in mid-afternoon.

That night the old man didn’t return home.  None of the cats paid attention as there was still food in the bowls.  Nor was he there in the morning to let them out onto the Court at 6:00.  In fact, one of the other inhabitants of the hose opened the door at 7:30; much too late.  Something was wrong.

Food was put out, although not by the old man and not the way they preferred.  Missey complained that her bowl wasn’t filled and placed on the right side of the food mat.  In fact, it wasn’t filled at all; it wasn’t there.   She would have jumped up on the counter to look for it if she could still jump that high.  The Big Guy was happy as long as there was plenty of food; he’d eat it off the floor if need be.

Later that night, at the appointed hour, (they had a schedule to follow for everything) they went into the rear bedroom expecting to curl up against the old man and sleep.  He wasn’t there.  “Come to think about it”, noted Fatty, “I haven’t seen the old man all day”. The cats were worried but went to sleep anyway.  Surely the old man would return in the morning.

But he didn’t.  In fact, he didn’t come back that day or the next or even the next.  He’d been gone for days and the cats were not at all happy.  Missey has been so upset she left a very messy hairball on the bed and wouldn’t sleep there (the old man would clean up these things).  Precious was so worried that she stayed out front until way after dark, hoping the old man would return.

“He must have been kidnapped by dogs.  There’s no other reason he hasn’t come home” she said when the cats gathered in the kitchen that night.  “No, I think not. He is bigger than dogs, he wasn’t kidnapped” said Fatty.  He continued “I think he ran away.  Sometimes people do that.”  The Court Cats grew quiet when Patty stopped speaking.  A real possibility existed in that the old man was not happy with the Court Cats and left to find other cats to live with.

On the 6th morning the other person put the food out, opened the door to the Court and went about his business.  He stopped long enough to give Missey a scratch between her ears and to rub Fatty’s belly then went on his way.  The Big Guy and Precious argued with each other about the mysterious disappearance and blaming each other for the disappearance. “I think you made him angry, always growling and hissing at the rest of us” argued the Big Guy.  Precious retorted that she wouldn’t need to hiss and growl if he had left her alone.  Missey sat on the corner of the sofa and contemplated life without the old man, “who is going to clean my messes up?”

A sad, angry and confused chowder of cats they had become.

That night, just before the appointed hour of sleep a car door slammed out on the court.  Precious was first to pick up the scent, “The old man!  I sense him!”, and she ran out the door to the front of the house.

The old man was coming up the walkway when she got around the front of the house.  “Hey!!  Where have you been?” she shouted at him.  Of course all he heard was some meowing as people can’t understand nor speak cat. She paced back and forth in front of him, blocking his way into the house and continuing to demand an explanation.  He bent down and scratched her ‘tween the ears and, all of a sudden, she didn’t care where he was, as long as he was home.

Once into the house he went to the rear bedroom and got ready for sleep.  The Court Cats were glad to have him back and decided to forgive him for running away.

The next morning the old man was awake at preciously 6:00 to feed and clean up the cat’s mess.  The Court Cats went out on early patrol as they had for years and life quickly returned to normal.

The cats tried to be nicer to the old man and didn’t try to get him out of bed early. Missey made an effort to be in the kitchen before tossing up the next hair ball.  Even the Big Guy tried to quit scattering crunchie-munchies when he ate.  Everyone seemed to be settling down into old routines.

Except Precious.  She had picked up the scent of another cat on the old man’s luggage.