Yesterday evening, I texted the contact at the cat agency and told them what happened to Ceiling Cat. This brought up some back-and-forth, as you might imagine. N---, the cat agency lady, asked if she could come out and try to trap Ceiling Cat, on the chance CC was still hanging around. I said she could. I told her I had a humane trap for raccoons (I didn't mention I'd already used it to snag CC earlier), but that I didn't want to use it outside because we have skunks, and I was unwilling to trap one. She allowed that she had a trap that was safer for cats anyway and she would bring it. I wasn't sure how a trap that was human for wildlife would be somehow be unsafe for cats, especially since the one I bought specifically mentioned that it was useful for cats, but hey--she wanted to do it. I wasn't all that sure CC was catchable, even if she was still around.
She came out this afternoon with a friend and with Ceiling Cat's brother, who she had lived with until she came to us. They put Brother in a pen near the bathroom window, along with a baited cage trap that looked like an older version of mine. I had already put her litter box and the bed she came with on the front porch, hoping she might come back to them, and they arranged these out there as well.
Then they disseminated flyers all about the neighborhood, and searched everywhere, including the woods behind our house. I think they even recruited our subdivision animal lady, the one who always sounds the alert whenever someone sees a coyote, because they had three people out looking for a while.
It began to rain, and I don't know if that helped or hindered matters. It might have made Ceiling Cat more willing to seek shelter, but it definitely made the ladies miserable. I didn't go out and help--I'd already scoured the neighborhood for CC, despite the fact that I knew CC would avoid me as the person who kept locking her up.
N--- and her friend left the neighborhood for an hour, then came back and looked again, then left, then came back. This pattern went on for several hours. You had to admire their dedication, though I was also annoyed that any of it had to happen at all. I didn't want any harm to come to Ceiling Cat, and was trying to make her a part of the household, but she was clearly freaked out and wanted no part of it--and it seems like the cat agency should have warned me she was so badly skittish. I wouldn't have taken her if I'd known.
At one point, the cat ladies packed up Brother and took him away, but left his pen and the trap.
At about 10:00, I noticed a flashlight bobbing outside my window. I was a little startled--the cat lady was still here? I thought she had gone home for the night. I slid the window open a tiny bit, and heard her talking in a coaxing voice to "baby girl." Had she found Ceiling Cat?
I waited a bit, not wanting to go outside and startle CC into running away. When I saw the flashlight had gone out, I went out to check and found the cat lady near the trap and pen.
"Did you find her?" I called.
"Yes," N--- called back shortly, and this was accompanied by an echoing yowl. She had Ceiling Cat in Brother's pen.
"Did you trap her, or did she come to you?"
"She came to me."
I have to say I was impressed as well as relieved. Ceiling Cat was safe!
Here's where things got a little strange. N--- didn't acknowledge me any further, and instead just took Ceiling Cat to her car, where her friend was waiting. She bundled CC into the car without a word to me. Darwin and I had already decided that if Ceiling Cat showed up again, we were going to ask the cat agency to take her back--integrating her into the household was clearly going to take a LOT of work, and I didn't think she'd ever adjust. However, she was legally our cat, and N--- didn't even ask what we wanted to do. She seemed intent on taking CC, whether I was willing to allow it or not.
N--- seemed pretty upset, and I don't blame her for being grumpy after searching a strange neighborhood in the rain for six hours for a cat. However, she seemed to take the position that this was my fault, and I was somehow a terrible pet owner. Well, no. We hadn't done anything wrong with CC. We worked with her quite a lot, and I used every trick I knew to help her. I feel the cat agency misled me and took my money, and now they have the temerity to be upset with me over something I had no way to control?
As N--- and her friend climbed into the car, I stiffly said, "Good night."
"Good night," she replied.
It was on the tip of my tongue to say, "I was talking to the cat, not you," but I forbore and instead strode into the house.
At least I don't have to think about Ceiling Cat anymore.