Dear Dennis,

After I graduated and started working as a real veterinarian, we moved into our first home. Built in 1913, the old house had charm, a dusty basement, and nooks and crannies everywhere. It also had one amazing feature for houses of that era: bedroom closets! The  main bathroom was a converted bedroom, so we had the luxury of lots of space, huge old windows and a good sized closet up there as well.

The biggest drawback to that house was the road. We were in a rural village, but our house was quite close to a busy road that ran through the village and traffic went past a good bit above the speed limit most days.

You were a curious young cat. It was a good thing you were a fairly large fellow, because you didn’t fit into some of the more dangerous nooks and crannies, like the old cistern channels or the ceiling tile defects in the closets. But it was common for you to come for dinner with basement cobwebs draped over your whiskers and tail.

One day, the house was curiously quiet. There was more food than usual left over in the cat bowl. We’ve already covered your attachment to your food, so we knew this was decidedly unusual.

We called and shook the treat bag. No Dennis.

When you didn’t even come to the sound of the can opener (if my husband is reading this, I know you give the cats tuna when you open the can), we knew we had to start a search. I started in the basement, worried that you were outside, but I knew we had to search the house thoroughly first.

Because you were a rather bold fellow, there was little fear you’d had a sudden onset of anxiety and hidden for that reason. And there was the food. So you were trapped, you were injured, or you were outside.

Once I finished downstairs and started up to the second floor, I heard you. I took a moment to be relieved that you weren’t outside, and then hurried up the stairs to call and wait for your response.

You were locked in the bathroom closet, which doubled as our linen closet. You’d probably found a nice soft place to take a nap while someone was showering, and then gotten closed in. The closet was in pretty good shape, except you’d urinated in the corner.

To clean the urine up, we had to get an enzymatic cleaner. Regular household cleaners can clear what we humans notice with our weak little noses. However, a cat’s sense of smell is much better than ours and actually may be better than that of dogs. Of course it is, you would reply, just try to train a cat to use it.

Despite the false alarm, you were also in pretty good shape, once you’d made your way directly to the food bowl.