Being a cat mother is new to me. I have read several books about cat care and behavior and listened to the advice of friends who have cats. I pay attention to her behavior and sounds. I’ve learned a great deal about how cats act, what they want and what they need.

My cat, Harriet, loves tuna and catnip. Those are the two most important things in her life.

She also loves to kill rodents and birds and bring them to me. That’s what I get for providing her tuna and catnip.

One thing I’ve been told about cats surprised me. Experts say sometimes a cat will run off or take up with a neighbor. No apparent reason. They just decide they want a new family.

How insulting. If my cat ran away to hunt greener pastures, I would take great umbrage and speak poorly of cats in general for the rest of my life. Especially after all the reading I’ve done about taking care of cats.

One day recently, I thought that day had come.

Distracted by the dog and getting in an afternoon nap on a Sunday, I kind of lost track of Harriet. I’d seen her early in the day — I remembered putting down her daily dollop of tuna.

She had not shown herself by dinner time, though, but that’s not terribly unusual. She’s like a teenager; she keeps to herself and comes and goes as she pleases. She’s not around as much as I’d like, but I want to give the girl her freedom.

The next morning, however, she didn’t show up for tuna. This was odd.

I decided she must have finally taken up with someone else. Probably someone who likes cats. Someone who didn’t have to study to learn what cats like. Someone who can go an hour or more without uttering a word. That sounds like cat people to me.

As soon as I stepped outside, I heard her meow. My studies paid off; I knew it was her “desperate for attention” meow.

I followed the sound to my neighbor’s house, where he had set a trap for the annoying neighborhood raccoons and, instead, caught my Harriet. I freed her, and she sped to her home — the one she shares with the dog and me.

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