Waiting ceased at 9 p.m. last night when the home owner knocked on our door; she had the keys and was ready to walk through the house with us. By 9:30 we were moving garage things, reveling in the nifty space off to one wise where two motorcycles fit nicely, along with other major garage type items. We moved stuff for an hour, happy with what we managed to get over there.
At 9 this morning we took the kitties over there and let them explore for a bit, which was mostly Max exploring while Buddah hid in a closet. After awhile we shut them in a room upstairs with food and water, a bed, Max's plastic tomb, and a cat tree so they'd be able to look out the window.
And then moving commenced. We opened the garage door to make it easier, and we began hauling...my desk, boxes and boxes of books, whatever we could grab. At 9:45 the Spouse Thingy and I were putting some odd things in the new living room, when we heard Max meow, and I laughed, thinking the sound was coming through the air vent and he didn't sound too unhappy.
But then Max poked his head out of the downstairs closet.
We'd locked them in a room upstairs.
The panic began.
Buddah was no where to be found. We checked every room, more than once. Every closet, even in closed cabinets, because he does sometimes pry them open. He wasn't in a closet, he wasn't in Max's plastic tomb...he was just gone.
I lost it. The thought of what could happen to Buddah outside hit me with the pain of a fresh wound rubbed raw with salt. He has never been outside off a leash, he's skittish around people but very curious to explore, and it was going to get very hot. As we walked the neighborhood looking for him and calling to him, I kept thinking of a little black kitty out in that baking heat. And I noticed just how many cars there were, how fast they were going. He would have no idea of knowing how to react around them, and he would have no idea how to get home. I searched, crying, knowing the neighbors were seeing this woman walking around looking like crap, with tears and snot running down her face, but I didn't care. I just wanted to find him before something bad happened.
We looked as long as seemed sane, and everywhere we could. I went back into the house several times to look again, just in case. I went back to the old house and looked in there, hoping he'd just been so scared that he scrambled from the new place back to the old. The Boy got in his car to search in a wider range. The Spouse Thingy talked to neighbors.
When it seemed fruitless, when we had no idea where to keep looking, where he might be hiding or playing, I went inside and made up fliers to put on the community mailboxes, and we brought Max back to the old house where he could stay in a familiar room, one with a door we knew would stay closed. And we got back to moving, somberly, sadly. I couldn't stop crying, but we moved what we could.
After he'd been missing for three hours, I plopped down on the front lawn in the shade to take a break, but I scanned up and down the street, hoping for movement. I kept wishing someone would run up with the news they'd found a black kitty. I kept thinking I'd pay just about anything if someone would find him and he was safe.
The Spouse Thingy kept moving things; the alternative was static worrying, and things needed be be moved anyway.
I sat there under the tree for at least ten minutes, long enough to feel guilt that I wasn't doing anything layered over the pain of being fairly sure I'd never see Buddah again.
Then the Spouse Thingy yelled I found him!!! from the upstairs window next door. I got my fat ass off the ground and went running into the house; he was at the top of the stairs holding a very confused little black kitty--Buddah had never left the house. He'd never even left the room. He was there while we searched for him, there while we went room to room calling his name. He simply chose to not answer.
He was hiding under Max's plastic tomb.
Both cats are back at the old house, where they will stay until there's no other option but to take them over. Buddah will probably find a place to hide, because he is fearful of change, but at least we'll make sure there's no way for him to get out of the house.
So...we got the keys, we're moving, we had major panic and tears, but it's much better now...