Catting around in the suburbs

Tiger came strolling in the door on Wednesday, acting like he owned the joint. Tiger was the pet cat of my wife’s 95 year-old dad, Bert – until Tiger suddenly became our pet cat when Bert passed away.

Only problem was, Tiger didn’t want to be our pet cat, nor the pet cat of anyone else – and within moments of being brought to our house, he disappeared into the woods – apparently deciding he’d rather be the pet cat of Bigfoot.

We would spot him (Tiger, not Bigfoot) occasionally hiding in a drainpipe or sitting on a tree stump – and that was his life for nearly two years – until he finally came walking into our house two days ago, without announcement or explanation.

Now, he seems to be here to stay. That’s a cat for you.

The remarkable mystery of cats seems to confound everyone, including scientists.

Last week, a story in the New York Times detailed how experts were baffled about a cat named Holly, who managed after two months and around 200 miles, to return to her hometown in Florida.

These stories aren’t unique – just amazing. When he was fourteen years old, my brother Mike couldn’t find his way home from our next-door neighbor’s house. So the idea that an animal like a dog or cat can manage hundreds of miles – without a map or GPS – is stunning.

Years ago, a pet cat of ours named “Big Puffy” (so named because he was big and puffy), jumped out of a window during a visit to a veterinarian. The vet’s place was several miles from our house, so we sadly figured B.P. was gone forever.

But a few weeks later, Big Puffy came walking into our yard – not so big, but even more puffy – and otherwise alive and well. Astonishing.

But a few weeks later, Big Puffy disappeared again. He was gone for months. Then a neighborhood kid spotted him a block away at another family’s house. Big Puff apparently had decided the vibe – and the food was better there.

Migratory creatures like insects have been studied much more closely than cats. On the other hand, more people keep cats as pets than stink bugs and earwigs. (Too bad, because earwigs are very smart and loyal.)

I have also owned a cat that never traveled anywhere – except straight up a tree. On one occasion, he remained on high for 13 straight days. Later, he broke his personal best record with a stint of 18 days.

I consulted an expert who said not to worry. “Your cat will come down on his own,” he assured me. “After all, you never see cat skeletons in a tree.” He’s right. I’ve looked.

There is an old Disney movie called “The Incredible Journey.” It has to do with a cat and two dogs making their way back to their owners across hundreds of miles. It took months.

Coincidentally, I once wrote a screenplay about a snail and two slugs making their way across nearly 30 feet.

That journey also took months.