Our wonderful cat Jax is missing.
He’s been part of our family for over 7 years, very much a fixture in our daily lives. Jax has always been a special cat – always purring and licking us, content to just be with. A good traveler and always happy to see you. We often joked that he must have a bit of dog in him for the way he would meet you at the door when you came home, lick you much like a dog does, or even play fetch. And he was always, always purring.
He was a bit of a goofy little cat and has never been big on survival skills. In fact, he’s tried to jump into his fair share of in-use fireplaces, hot ovens, and even set himself on fire once by getting a little too curious about a gas stove. He was also chronically ill during his life with us. We tried everything to help him (including visits to an animal acupuncturist and a foray into herbal treatments when antibiotics simply stopped helping), but it became clear that he was just a sickly little cat, happy despite his constant sneezing and coughing.
When we brought Rowenna home from the hospital, the first thing he did was climb right into her car carrier and purr. When she was doing tummy time or laying on her back gazing up at her toys, Jax would snuggle alongside her. He was the reason she first sat up, rolled, crawled, walked, and climbed. (He quickly earned the nickname “therapy cat.”) When she cried, he would gently bump her with his head and give her a few licks. One of her first signs was “cat.” The two have been a pair from the start.
We have been working hard on teaching Rowenna the concept of “gentle” and she generally went by these guidelines, but even when she didn’t, Jax would simply flop over and purr. He never once hissed or bit or scratched anyone for any reason.
He would sometimes sleep under her crib, and more than once I went to wake Rowenna in the morning only to find the two of them having a little morning conversation, Jax purring and Rowenna grinning ear-to-ear.
Our other cat, Milo, recently pawed open a door and Jax snuck out. I don’t really understand why – he rarely showed an interest in straying very far from his beloved Rowenna – but away he went. We made fliers, talked to neighbors, walked our block, and hiked through the woods behind our house and the neighbors’ houses. We left out bowls of kibble and his favorite blankets and pillows. We registered Jax as missing with the local shelter and the police department.
But he is just…gone.
Rowenna’s been walking around the house signing “cat” and making the purring noise she associates with Jax. (She’s rarely heard him meow, he’s always purring, and it’s little wonder she thinks cats make a purring noise despite us trying to teach her it’s really “meow.”) She has a very clear circuit that hits every part of the house she shared with Jax. A cubby under our tv for snuggling, our bed where we played with Jax in the mornings, the sliding door where they sat together, soaking in the sunshine. She’s been clutching his toys and laying her head on his pillow, crying. One night she sat at our sliding door for over a half hour while signing “cat” and crying. Nothing I did could console her, so I ended up just rocking her and crying along with her.
We’re trying to acknowledge her desire to see him while trying to explain he’s no longer here. We use words we think she can understand, but how do you explain to a three year old that this creature she loves more than anything is simply gone and isn’t coming back?
And while watching my sweet girl miss her cat is breaking my heart, I am bracing myself for the thing I know is coming that will be even worse: the day I realize she didn’t once go to check the cubby, the day she didn’t sit at the back door and sign “cat.” The day she gives up on him being there.
Maybe one day Jax will come back to our family, but I can’t say we’re holding much hope that it will happen. He’s slipped away. We only hope now that he is safe and happy out there on his adventure, and if he is found, found by a gentle and loving family that will appreciate him, sneezes and all.