Jessie's cat, Warren, was strictly an indoor cat until he joined our household. When he lived in an apartment building with Jessie in grad school, she would let him out into the hall sometimes, and he would get spooked and "knock" on the nearest door, seemingly not caring that it was the wrong door. When he lived with her parents in Manley, he didn't get more than a few feet from the door before getting spooked and wanting back in.
But Simon loves the outdoors, and following his example, Warren got more adventurous and took on the porch, then the yard, and finally neighbors' yards. We were careful about letting him out at night or when we weren't at home, but for the most part we got used to letting him roam. When the cat sitter asked last weekend if she could let the cats out, I said yes, if she would be around when they got back.
Well, she let them both out on Sunday morning, and Warren strolled off down the street. She tried to follow him, but he just walked faster. Pretty soon he was out of sight. She stayed around the house for 4 hours, but he didn't come back. She felt terrible, because it was her first cat-sitting job ever, but there was nothing to be done. I assured her it wasn't her fault, but mine for not warning her that he might do something like that.
Jessie and I spent much of Sunday afternoon and evening walking up and down the street, calling Warren and talking with neighbors. Several neighbors said they had seen him a block to the north of us, so we concentrated our efforts there. Simon even got into the spirit, walking along with us and searching dark corners, but it seems he had no more clue than we did.
Monday morning, I called all the vets and shelters and hotlines in town. In the afternoon, Jessie and I made posters, and we hung a few up in the evening, offering a reward. At 11 PM I missed a call from one of the neighbors who had said he'd seen Warren, a college guy living in a big house with a lot of other college guys, but a few minutes later he came to our door, saying that Warren had been let in by one of his housemates, and that he (Warren) had made himself so at home that it had taken them a day to realize that he didn't live there! We walked with him (the neighbor) to the house, and there was Warren in the window!
Now, Warren is not the easiest cat to live with. He talks a lot -- loudly, at all hours -- and throws food all over, and has frequent hairballs, and licks himself really loudly, and doesn't cover his poop, and likes to sleep on people's heads or on keyboards or books, and doesn't respond to Simon's criticism. But we all really missed him and were really glad to find that he was all right (Simon slipped right back into hissing). It's a little troubling that he just found another home, but at least we know he's resourceful -- and lucky!