Phew! And . . . a very humbled wow.

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All had been calm and comfy just hours before the great escape.

It was bound to happen at some point. Since Linus came to live with us 16 months ago, he has assiduously ignored any open doors to the outside — even scooted away from them fearfully. (Cookies, on the other hand, will seize any chance to head outside, check the haps, and eat grass.) Today, however, Linus was presented with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse, and aided and abetted by Cookies, actually left the house.

The problem was that it was a very windy day, and sometimes on windy days our side door doesn’t quite pull shut all the way. That’s exactly what happened today. I returned from bringing something to DS to find Cookies in the front yard, and Linus on the steps. Cookies I wasn’t worried about; I grabbed him and tossed him back in with a “You shouldn’t have led him outside!” Linus, however, was a different story. While inside I can walk over to him and pick him up (and kiss his head), I could see that outside there was no way that would happen. He had immediately reverted to being a wide-eyed, scared little feral cat. He stared at me in disbelief and disappeared under the porch into what had been his usual hiding place for a year. I tried very hard not to convey the fact that I was having several heart attacks while he peeped out. I called to him, I held out my two fingers; he tentatively came out and touched my fingers with his nose and zipped right back under the porch. After a few minutes of watching him like this, I went back in to get

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The moment of his first choice, in 2014.

some treats. (Cookies greeted me with a “I’m sorry! Where is he?” meow.) As I had done on that November day when he first came inside, I put some treats on the porch near the door, then inside the mud room with the door open. As he had done that day, he cautiously came and ate the treats on the porch, then looked at me.  He looked around over his shoulder, and then I watched him decide, once again, to trust me and to come inside. I shut the door and he ran past Cookies and went somewhere to hide. It took him some time to come out of feral mode. I let him be, and just told him I loved him. When he had sorted himself out, he came over for rubs and snuggles, saying “I’m sorry. I really do want to be here.” He has remained extra affectionate throughout the evening.

What if he had stayed outside? I think eventually he would have returned (I would have camped out on the porch until he did). He is wearing a collar, so even if someone else couldn’t get near him to read the tag at least they could tell he has a family. But given that he is out of practice of dodging coyotes (and now a bobcat), I would have been so afraid for him. Thankfully now I don’t need to worry, and I can look forward to feeling him snuggle against me in the wee hours of the morning, purring and sticking his head under my hand for rubs.

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“But who would rub my tummy if I were outside?”

Thank you, Linus, for choosing once again to be with us. You didn’t have to; you could have disappeared in a flash the way you used to and decided to be an outdoor car once more. But you didn’t. For that I am extremely humbled, and grateful.

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