Because we were home last weekend longer than a normal weekend, my in-laws consented to us bringing our cats Hecate and Hyperion to their house so they weren't left alone. We warned them before we came that Hyperion has a habit of hanging out near the door and venturing out onto our landing when we're not looking.
My mother-in-law fretted about how to keep him from the door or using a different door, because their front door leads directly out onto the porch. It turns out we all should have been worrying in an entirely different direction.
We were leaving my parents' house Friday to return to Nathan's parents' house for the evening when his mother called very worried because she couldn't find Hecate, our little black cat. My in-laws live in a big beautiful old farm house, with about a million and a half different places for the cats to hide. I wasn't too worried, I figured she had just found somewhere unusual to hole up for a little. We arrived and I started looking for her immediately. I went into their office, which is at the bottom of a staircase leading to the upstairs and closed off to the main floor by two doors. I called for Hecate and heard a tiny meow. I called again and realized she was upstairs, where the cats weren't supposed to go. I found her in my mother-in-law's storage room. Apparently both cats had gone upstairs earlier and Hecate had slipped into this room unnoticed. Problem solved.
Sunday as we were packing to leave I put Hyperion into his crate and called for Hecate. She didn't respond and she didn't come. I called again and still nothing. At about 4:30 we started looking in all her usual hiding places in the house, including upstairs. We could not find her. While my mother-in-law, Nathan and I were in DeKalb, my father-in-law had returned to the house and left, and my sister-in-law had been there. I realized the possibility of her slipping out undetected could have been large. I began to panic. As the snow fell, Nathan and I took flashlights and went out into the dark, searching along the road, in the ditches, in and around the barn across the street.
We did everything but turn the house upside-down and shake it, every room was checked at least four times. Finally, two and a half hours after we started looking, my in-laws found Hecate who must have been stretched across the inner frame work of the couch. I don't know how many times we looked under the couch, Nathan and his father even picked it up and looked under it.
You can't tell me that after more than a year Hecate doesn't know her name. I called fairly loudly for her in the house a few times, there is no way she did not hear me. She was being willfully disobedient. I picked her up from behind the couch and dropped her in her crate, so mad I didn't care whether or not she had been pinched when my in-laws used the couch's reclining features to find her.
But I am glad she was safe and found and I have since examined her and she seems okay.