Serre Chevalier + How to say "flat rate" when searching for $ deals in France
loufoque meaning + first poppies + chapter translation!

Ways to say you are hurting (French expressions)

Jean-Marc and kitties chatons
Photo of Jean-Marc with the kitties, who went missing. My son and his friend Anto helped come up with this list of Ways to say you are hurting, but often the look on one's face is enough to convey the message of tristesse, or sadness.

Les differentes expressions pour exprimer la souffrance/
Expressions to express suffering:

je suis triste = I am sad
ça ne va pas du tout = things aren't going well at all
ce n'est pas la forme = not feeling so great
je déprime = I'm depressed
je ne me sens pas bien = I don't feel well

Audio File: listen to Anto read the list of Ways to Say you are Sad in French
Download MP3 or Wav

A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The cats are gone. There is no gentler way to say it, not even to myself. For those who wrote in when we first got Pancho and Lily, warning us to keep our cats indoors--please don't say I told you so! I couldn't feel any worse than I already do and any reminders would only kick at my heart.

Pancho and Lily went missing Thursday, hours before they were scheduled to be spayed and neutered. I know, I should have had them locked in the house. Instead, our 5-and-a-half month old cats were enjoying their morning ritual: climbing the olive and fig trees in our yard and chasing Smokey's tail as he sat wagging it below the clothesline, watching his human pin up socks and underwear en étendant le linge.

The last time I saw Pancho I was heading back from the clothesline. I set down my panier à linge and collected our cat into my arms. Like a warm towel fresh off the line, he felt so good. Pancho is the cuddlier of the two chats and we have a soft spot for him as he suffers from separation anxiety, or la névrose d'abandon. (He was not 5 weeks old when given to us and the emotional scars were evident in the way he suckled all the time--his paw or my hand or the pillow case--anything to get back that feeling of mama's closeness). 

Pancho and Lily
               Pancho, left, Lily (his sister) is on the right.

After a good long câlin, we all went about our duties for the day: for me, there was a post to write about our recent trip to Serre Chevalier, for Smokey there was the business of chewing on sticks (or what he likes to pretend to be "flute practice") and for Pancho and Lily there were trees to climb, dangling laundry to swat at and the vegetable patch (so much fun to burst through the parsley "curtains," startling the gardener on the other side. How I fall for the cats' antics every time!).

Our golden, Smokey. A survivor and an inspiration. We got his mom from the pound, and him from Heaven.

By lunchtime, I had finished my post and was slapping together a sandwich in our makeshift kitchen (the living room, where we're camping out during renovations) when a distant questioning ricocheted through my mind: Mais où sont les chats?

I didn't worry too much about it, thinking that we'd soon cross paths again. Still, it was strange that Pancho and Lily had not eaten the treat Jean-Marc had left them in their bowls. The chicken skin was still there, untouched.

After lunch and a short nap, I had set out to weed the kitchen garden when that nagging doubt came back as I worked my way around le persil, or parsley: Mais où sont les chats?

That is when reality hit. Pancho and Lily were gone!

A sickly feeling came over me. A horrible intuition that they hadn't just run off.... Perhaps it was paranoia, but I could not help feeling our cats were the victim of foul play. 

"Not foul play!" Jean-Marc assured me (though birds were--in my husband's opinion--a key to this mystery. Had the cats' instincts kicked in, and now they were off with the birds of springtime? And speaking of instincts, was the vet correct when she guessed the cats had sensed the upcoming sterilization--and disappeared so as to avoid it?).

I thought about one or the other explanations. I remembered waking up that morning of the doctor's appointment, and my husband's comment. "Listen!" he said, "Can you hear the birds? C'est le printemps!" We had lingered there in bed, listening to the chirp parade going on outside our window. The birdsong made me giddy and I bounded out of bed, intent on rejoicing for this, the day that God had made!

But by evening there was not one high note left to reach for. No more birdsong--only a deadpan atmosphere. Even the dogs looked depressed, huddled beside the front door. As I turned the lock, my ears trembled from the sound of la fermeture. The cats were still on the other side... somewhere.

Normally at this point in these missives, the story would lift. The stories always lift! And then there is a happy ending. But at this point, after last night's heavy rainfall--and still no cats this morning--the only way for that to happen would be, for once, to not end this histoire.

And isn't that what Hope is?: a never-ending story.

                                   *    *    *

I moved Pancho and Lily's bed outside. All their belongings are intact, inside. Brushing my teeth this morning, I stumbled over their jingle-bell ball. Reaching down to pick it up, I wondered where to put it.

Comments and a Post Note: Thank you for your support. I really need it at this time. I apologize to cat lovers out there, whose hearts are as heavy as mine is this morning. I didn't mean to let you down. From the moment these cats came into our care, I took their well-being to heart, giving Pancho and Lily all I could. If, as some of you may say, I am responsible for their demise by choosing to let them play outside, then I will have to live with this horror in my heart.

  Roquette or arugula
In the backyard potager, where roquette, or arugula, is blossoming, Smokey is on the lookout for Lily, for where Lily goes, Pancho follows

French Vocabulary
en étendant le linge = while hanging out the laundry
le panier à linge = laundry basket
le câlin = the cuddle, hug
mais où sont les chats? = but where are the cats?
le persil = parsley
c'est le printemps = it's springtime
la fermeture = closing
l'histoire (f) = story
le potager = kitchen garden, vegetable patch

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Cats do go off and come back. Maybe the birds, the smell of spring and an adventure were waiting. They will come back to tell you all about it.

Karen Brown

I am so sorry - I know the feeling you have. I have 2 cats and would be devastated if they went missing. Pancho and Lily are loved and they have a good home - they know they are loved. That is more then a lot of cats have. You made them very happy...and well fed.

Fay Plauche' Butler

We are awaiting the birth of our new cat to be, a Napoleon cat. Napoleons are a mix between a Persian and a munchkin - that's a long story. Some have short forelegs (non-standard) but others are regular kitty legs size. They come in many colors and have hair like Persians only it doesn't mat and is easy to care for.

Thinking up names. So far, Nappy and Josie are front runners.


Hope your little ones return soon...sent a prayer up for you and yours.


This touches my heart because I have three precious little ones I rescued as newborns 7 months ago. I was not a 'cat' person but these sweet creatures are now part of my heart and family. Kristin I am praying they come back to you.


Aaah, what a poignant and beautifully written piece. All your readers I'm sure are offering their thoughts of a safe return for Pancho and Lily, bless their little hearts. Whatever their destiny, you offered them a warm loving home and for that you should be honoured. Feeling your sadness, June


Have you checked in any neighbours may have set traps? One of our cats went missing for several days and finally our dog off the lead on a walk found him in a trap, fortunatly some ITU care at the vets and several courses of antibiotics have allowed him to make a full recovery and the marie has had words with the famrer who should have been checking traps daily..... Fingers crossed they still turn up

Nan Morrissette

When first married, Tom and I lived in Maine on a dirt road with many acres of woods and meadows and a stream. My very small but indomitable Maine Coon Cat begged, pleaded and sulked like a teenager for so long that I finally allowed him to go out. Every day I agonized while he was out because I knew he wandered far and wide and there were many wild animals in our area. But I had to balance my fear with his joy in being in his outdoor kingdom. This is as hard as watching your child grow up and want to expand his or her little horizons, taking risks and leaving your arms, in order to become independent. Whether your children or your kittens, just keep your love for them in your heart.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

So sorry for your hard day.

I think it is fine to let cats be outdoors. From my own experience, the only thing I would have done differently would have been to contain the kittens on the day I meant to go the vet with them. As it was time to neuter and spay, it also means their wanderlust is setting in. So I would contain them, either in the house or in the containers.

The kittens I had, I always started them out in a small space, even one room, so that I would not lose the tiny things, and their sense of the size of the world would grow slowly, until their own hormones kicked in.

One of my cats was so very territorial, that even after his neutering, he ran away, wriggled out of his collar with the tags saying to call me, and only good luck got him back to me, when he was 7 months old.

I do hope yours return to you, and then you contain them right away, straight to the vets.


It seems logical that they will be back..somehow they have a homing instinct. A neighbors' cat wanders far and wide, but in the in, he returns.
I am believing this, and so I bet do a lot of your readers!

Eileen deCamp

I'm sorry Kristin. Have they done this before? Maybe some person found them and took them home to care for them?

Linda R.

Kristin, I hope your cats do return safely, but if not, you should know that they had a wonderful life the time they were with your family. Climbing olive & fig trees, swatting at laundry, chasing Smokey's tail, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine of the great outdoors, being part of a loving family - what a marvelous adventure and much more fun than being tucked away inside to while away the days. Safe returns.


So sorry to hear about Pancho and Lily; I hope they will come home soon.

Ally Davis

Your cats may come back!. I have heard stories about reunions with long lost pets. Do you have predators in the area? I have iindoor cats because we have coyotes in the woods near our house and my boys would be dessert. I know your heart his heavy but they may show up! Do the French post "lost pet" signs on telephone poles with photos and tel#s? Best of luck to you -sending positive vibes your way.


Two weeks ago I woke up to find an empty paddock ! A broken fence and three adult horses missing. After searching frantically, putting out the word to all our (unknown and remote) neighbors, I only got one phone call saying someone had seen them in a neighboring town (5+ km from us). But that had been almost an hour and a half earlier. I searched by car, by foot, with the help of my doggie - whose nose is interested in absolutely every smell to be found, not only our horses.

My only connection to them was a long trace of hoof prints, first galloping in one direction, then in the other. But no horses ! When sun set, I resigned the search to the Heavens and went to bed.

Around 4am, I got a signal from earlier mentioned doggie, who quietly informed me to look outside. There they were, all three, quietly munching grass in the front yard. I went out to greet them, and without one word exchanged, they returned single file into their barn to sleep.

Moral of the story : animals are very smart. They know where home is. Sometimes they need to stretch their legs and noses (and other parts) into the wild, see what there is to be seen. The night the horses left was the full moon, a bright and glorious night.

We have to trust something strong about the nature of Nature, as well as the love we share with these worldly creatures. Perhaps they will one day come back... and if not, just imagine that they are taking care of themselves, as cats and other animals know so well how to do. We are offered precious opportunities to care for animals, but we must also remember that they are "on loan"... that they first belong to Mother Nature, and she will take care of them.

Be thankful that these little cats are not big enough to cause an accident on the road, or eat your neighbor's cabbages. :)

I do understand that sinking feeling when we feel like we should have done better... but "shoulds" render us helpless, as the past is just that. The future, however, is something quite different, thank goodness.

Peace to you... and trust that things happen for reasons we cannot always understand. Life is a perpetual learning experience, and events like this are given to us to teach us something. May your learning experience be tender and loving... just like your kitties.

ra martin

I just want to say that this is the first time I've commented, but I've been reading your blog for years apres my brother giving me your first book for a gift before we moved to France. Your writing and life have ripened like fine wine. And with all the wonderful entertaining literary efforts out there clamoring for attention, your blog is still first & foremost on my "must reads".

So why write now after all these years?? Because I cannot believe that anyone in their right mind who knew anything about CATS would blame you for leaving them out. Last year on BBC there was a special on Cats in a sweet urban village where wonderful, diverse house pet cats roamed free in the environs of the British paysage. No matter how domesticated they might seem purring on our laps they are WILD creatures & survivors as the hidden cameras revealed them stalking & bringing down rabbits, pigeons and probably a Sanglier if they were big enough. We've had cats born under woodpiles in the Charente where we live, people adopt them, but they never lose their feral hunting nature, desire to own their territory. Your sweet muffins may very well be back even by now, I hope so, but we have seen kittens surviving here in the forest and in the fields. You just may have made their lives a little too cozy and comfortable! Bon Courage,


Kristin - I know exactly how you feel! I have 3 cats and a dog at present, have always had animals and have always suffered greatly when something happened to one of them. Try not to be too anxious - they've had a taste of real freedom now and just may be taking advantage of it. Also, I've noticed throughout the years, without fail, if it was time for a visit to the vet, the pet was nowhere to be found.
Don't give up hope yet!


I have had 4 cats over the years and while some are content as indoor cats, for some it is a long slow death if you keep them feeling trapped inside. I lost one kitten right in our backyard (he tried to leap over our neighbors fence and did not make it and even tho we rushed him to the vet on the spot, he was fatally injured). But as easy as it is to beat oneself up thinking different choices could have prevented it, I know this cat was climbing the walls (literally) and wanted to be exploring the outside. I hope for you and Pancho and Lily that you are beautifully surprised with a reunion, but if not, you must remember you gave them a loving, wonderful home.

Marian: OH

Kristin, Please do not "beat yourself up" over the temporary disappearace of the kitties. Letting them have their freedoms and epress their natural inclinations was a wonderful thing. Cats have a marvelous ability to find their way home. It reminds me of teenagers and young adults. They long for freedom and can't wait to be out on their own and have their adventures, but they know where they are loved and where they can return to open arms welcoming them. (even if it's sometimes only for a short visit :-) Choose to believe that if Pancho and Lily do not return to you, they have followed their instincts to someone who perhaps needs their love and cuddles a little more than you do right now and that they will be able to raise that person's spirits (if not their heart rate :-} by leaping through parsley curtains.


I haven't read all the comments, so forgive me if this has been already said. Go out at night after dark. Walk around the house, calling them softly. Sometimes they get scared and hide.

Leave some food out. They may get hungry and come back. Check at the neighbors' places. Sometimes they get stuck in a garage or barn or something like that.

We had cats all our lives. Some were outdoor; some were indoor. Our 20-year-old cat was both indoors and outdoors, depending on where we lived, city or country. If I lived where you do, I would probably let my cats out too.

Don't worry. They will most likely return, disheveled and hungry!

Jeanne in Oregon

Fifteen years ago I married a man who is allergic to cats, so I am no longer able to live with those special furry critters. I do, however, have a brief story to share.

Back in 1985 I had a beautiful black cat named Minky. We had a cat door, so Minky came and went at will. Well, that year my father, who also lived with me, was dying from kidney failure. At 85 years, his doctor would not consider dialysis, and his old body was slowly poisoned from within.

About a week before his death, Minky disappeared. I was troubled and saddened, but my father's condition took my full attention. Sadly, one morning, Dad was gone. The home health nurse called the coroner and his frail body was taken away.

That morning I sat on the porch stairs, softly weeping, when I felt something warm against my leg. Through my tears, I saw dear Minky, rubbing against me. Sorry, I don't have words to describe how comforting that small soft creature was to me in my grief.

Don't give up hope of seeing your sweet kitties again. They are curious beings, always exploring. I will pray they find their way home soon.

Marie LaSalle

Don't. beat yourself up. Either they will wander back or become some other family's beloved stray. You might have a chat with the dogs let them sniff the cat's beddingand take a walk ... Braise may lead you to the cats or they may recognize his scent. Bonne chance et bon courage.

Nancy Mulloy-Bonn

Do not give up hope, Kristin. Cats go away and sometimes return. Leave items with your human scent around, outside, in the yard.

Patricia Barman

Kristen your cats will come back! They know a good home and your home sounds like the best ever. You have given them the best life they could possibly have. Please don't ever confine a cat to the indoors.

Elaine tanzer

I am so sorry. I used to let my cats out and know the unbelievably horrible feeling.


I think they will return because it's really unlikely that 2 cats were taken by an animal together, the same day. I bet they are running on a wild adventure and will come back after a week long bender like teenagers who were locked up in private schools and then allowed to go on spring break!! Don't give up hope yet!!

Elaine tanzer

Please follow Cyndy's advice.

Judy Bell

I'm so sorry to hear this, Kristin! Are there coyotes? Wolves? Other dogs? I suppose a person could have lured them away -- is your property so large that you wouldn't see people about? Cats are so resilient, though -- look up into the tall trees. Look into pipes on the ground (could they have gotten stuck?). Do you have a dry well on the property they could have fallen down into?

Chris Allin

Such beautiful, encouraging words from your readers, Kristin. The picture of Smokey is tugging at my heart. May your overwhelming sadness be followed by overwhelming joy. Don't lose hope~

Jan greene

Just to say prayers are coming your way for a quick and good reunion with your dear ones. You have gotten so many good suggestions and have much support and love coming to you. I will be thinking of the dear chats and hope to read that they showed up as if they just returned from a little voyage!


We lost a kitty many years ago when a window was left open, and then a few weeks later he just reappeared - I hope the same for you and your kitties.

Sue Anderson

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your kittens. Remember that you have provided them with a wonderful start in life. Cats by nature are outdoor animals, and do not feel guilty about letting them out! When my own dear cat went missing, I was devastated. After three days, however, my story had a happy ending, and he turned up, starving. We guessed that he had been exploring and had gotten locked in some building. I hope and pray that your story will also have a happy ending. Thank you for allowing us to share in your distress. We all love you and feel your pain.


People have already given good advice. I'm merely offering my prayers, hope and support for a safe return of Pancho and Lily. I recognize your angst with letting them out and their disappearance. I've had a cat come home and a couple not so. Because of such, I became active in local animal rescue. (Something good should balance the pain of Miss Bella LaRue and Miss Checkers McGuillicutty's loss.) Perhaps the cats have returned during the night as this is written. I'm adding my hope that this is the case.

Audrey Wilson

There is always hope . My cat, which I had when my children were young, went missing for three days .We searched the neighbourhood & checked with everyone in our estate. No luck. I was worried as there was a busy road near .
We had nearly given up hope when there was Pyewacket outside the window ,not looking too good. However the vet ,after examing him ,said it looked as though he had taken an awkard fall & knocked himself out !!
So don't give up yet Kristin.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut, Kristin

Je suis tellement désolé, Kristin pour votre perte. Peut-être les chats reviendront bientôt. Je l'espère!

Anne Lester

As others have said, cats do go awol and turn up none the worse for wear, we spent a frantic three days searching for one of ours when we returned home from a holiday, a neighbour looking after them in our absence. She was fine, probably been hunting and sleeping off a successful catch, it being baby bunny season. As to keeping them indoors, how and why would you do that, you live in what looks like splendid cat country, and I imagine that in fine weather doors and windows are open, without confining them to a cage - ghastly idea - how would you keep two cats inside? We live on the west coast of Scotland, and even during our less than sunny summers I cannot imagine keeping our two cats indoors without confining them, what a miserable existence that would be. I can't even imagine an outdoor cage being a satisfactory solution, so please don't beat yourself up by allowing your cats to live life to the full - outdoors. Here's hoping they turn up wondering what the fuss is about.

Alicia Suárez

I know how you feeling. My cats, dog have gone too in the past. Ever Since our yellow cat "coco" went missing, my yellow cats keep leaving. I just want to have a yellow but everytime my Bonnie has kitties and one or two of them are yellow they disappear, it's sad. I like to think they're out there following their curiosity.

June Shenton Turner

It is not knowing that is the worst thing and
it lets the imagination run riot. One longs for closure one way or another. I'm so sorry you have had this loss.

On another note, I see you have an ad for holiday renting. Could you possibly tell
me how this can be achieved?
God bless you and keep you, my dear.
June Shenton Turner


My heart broke as I read today. I too have had that sick feeling that a cat had gone missing. Still, we let our cats (3 at present) wander as far as they feel their world extends. Bob had even moved to a new home and we got him back because he couldn't bear being an inside cat. Most of the time when they go missing they come back. Bob now has two homes and has helped us get to know neighbors. Froderick wasn't so fortunate and I blamed myself over and over for letting him out that day. My hope is that shared pain is lighter and that your kitties come home.

Bettye Dew

Kristen,your sad but beautifully written story has elicited some excellent responses from your readers. Good writing is contagious today! Here's hoping the kittens come home soon and all is well.One of our cats was accidentally locked in my neighbor's garage for perhaps ten days while he was on a trip. We had given him up for lost. Imagine our neighbor's surprise, and ours too, when Cream Puff came mewling out of the garage,starving but furious with us all.

Linda Callahan

Being a pair of kitties can lead to all sorts of adventures. I do not believe in keeping cats indoors and that is the risk we take so they can be happy. I do believe they are having a bout of spring fever and you will find them sleeping in their little bed some morning very soon.

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

So sorry for you all, humans and doggies, all missing les petits matous. Pets are family members, aren't they, real friends... Cats often disappear and... come back later... Je croise les doigts pour vous tous and hope spring will bring back your lovely kittens soon. Don't feel guilty for letting them play outside : cats are meant for that, they just LOVE that ! Smokey chewing stisk... reminds me so dearly of my Mambo... Thznk you so much dear friend for sharing.

Terry Miller

All my cats have gone off for more than 24 hours when they were kittens about the same age as Lily and Pancho and I worried, agonized, and despaired, but they all came back looking none the worse for wear. I think this is just something kittens do when they are learning their way in the world. I will keep all of you in my prayers.


I have a feeling the cats will come back. Keep the faith, those cats love you and they won't be gone for long. It's the way with cats, they are free souls.


I agree with the other reader's comments. One can do everything right, still have a problem and feel remorse. No remose for your deeds because they were appropriate, just for your loss. I look forward to reading tomorrow's post with great expectations that these little wonderers have returned to their home.

Sebastopol CA


Kristin, I'm so sad for you about les petits chats. My new kittens also go outside and I have a little terror about it all the time. But I think they are happier and healthier being able to roam so I accept the risk that something could happen. Yours may just be on walkabout and will show up soon for food and cuddles. I do hope so

You shouldn't feel guilty, you were allowing them to have the pleasures of the outside that we all enjoy - grass, sunshine, trees. A life penned up is not natural for cats - we must all take the risks of life. I hope your cats wander back to you and that you are able to get them to the vet toute de suite when they return.


Oh Kristen, I am so sorry. I have had cats my whole life, and it's so hard to deny them the pleasures of being outside that they so yearn for and deserve. You did nothing wrong. You live in a rural area where most cats would be perfectly safe -- at least from many of the more urban dangers. Please don't beat yourself up. I know that it's easier said than done. And please let me thank you for your most timely vocabulary lesson today. My depression, which has been fairly well managed on and off for the last twenty years, is back, full force, these past few weeks. Seeing words for it in a different language actually makes me feel less alone.

Gayle Markow

Dear Kristin, I'm so sorry for your deep sadness at the disappearance of your beloved kitties, and like your other readers I am hoping, praying it will be temporary sadness and a temporary disappearance. You have nothing to feel guilty for. You have lovingly cared for them, and your story is beautiful. I'm so grateful that your readers have sent such beautifully supportive, loving, practical-advice letters. Lots of good advice, and tons of kind, empathetic wisdom.
Take best care of yourself.

Mary Kennedy

Kristin, are there woods behind the house? If so, I would leave a dish of tuna here and there, it will attract the kitties if they are out there. Since they were not neutered, they could easily have strayed, looking for "romance." Also, please put up signs, you never know, someone could have spotted them and taken them in. And I would also talk to the neighbor with the vicious dogs. If, god forbid, something happened to them, it is better to know, than to keep looking and wondering. Here's hoping the kitties return very soon!


As many have commented, some cats you can lock up, some must roam at all costs. Simon was the later. When he was perdu, my husband was sure a coyote got him. Turns out he went to live with a neighbor, the new terrier puppy we had didn't suit him...he wanted to be an only child. Still hard to lose a part of the family.

Leslie A. Riley

I am so sorry, Kirsten! We have always had cats and just love them (dogs, too). Once our cat was missing for 9 days. He was known around the neighborhood, and I went out looking for him. Everyone said, "Oh, I know Murphy. I just saw him (fill in the blank)." After 9 days, lots of prayers, etc., a neighbor phoned to say he just saw him heading home. We can only imagine that he got locked into a home that was for sale and it was several days later when the realtor showed it again. I hope your story has a happy ending! I'll be praying for their return. Leslie

gerry o.

Cats are very independent and if you have time read some of John Carrol's columns(SF Chronicle) on his relationship with his two.
I, too, hang out the linge on Mondays and it is like a zen moment for me. Just the doing of the mundane things in life get me to step back and enjoy the beauty of nature and watch the hummingbird that feeds off our Mexican sage alongside our house.
They will have their own stories to tell when they return.


I'm so sorry that your sweet kitties are missing and am hopeful they will return very soon. In the meantime, it is NOT 'your fault'. Even indoor cats can escape in a flash when the spirit moves them, and I think you chose right in letting them live their lives fully and happily!

marjorie recinos

Do not give up hope! I had a cat who "disappeared" only to show up 6 months later! Not one word of explanation! Cats are like that! Stay positive!

Jeanne Berger

Don't lose hope Kirsten - keep on looking for them, calling their names, and get your neighbours looking in areas that may have accidentally been locked up. My South African kitten, who now lives with us in a Paris flat, went missing for 8 days at 10 months. I like you was devastated - I searched every day in the surrounding neighbourhood but was convinced he'd died. He re-appeared miraculously, crying at our door step at 4 am - hungry and thin, but otherwise fine! But certainly don't beat yourself up about letting them be outdoor cats. I don't like having an indoor cat but we had no one to leave him with in South Africa. We trained him to walk on a leash and go to our local park, where he shares the dog walkway, much to the amusement and surprise of most people! Bon courage.

Kristin Espinasse

What a warm and comforting outreach! Thank you all for managing to make me laugh and think and appreciate and love even more!

Marie, my heart goes out to you. I join everyone out there in knowing so many people who suffer from the horrors of depression. Thank you for speaking up. I know it is almost impossible to do this when frozen by depression, and for this reason people do not get the help they need. Thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

Barbara Lynch

Kristin, your story, as usual, was beautifully written. We all feel your pain. I hope that your babies come back to you! ♡♡♡

Devra Long

Praying for their safe return and sending loving hugs to you.


I'm so sorry to read this. Your love for them is obvious. Sending hope and a prayer that they are OK and will return to you and yours.

gwyn ganjeau

oh kristin. for me the most heart-breaking part of this story is the guilt you are carrying. i know if i was a kitty and had my choice, it would CLEARLY be to be spending the days climbing fig and olive trees, taking fat naps in the flowers, chasing butterflies, and exploring everything it means to be 'kitty.' what a beautiful life you gave pancho and lily. i do expect there is a good likelihood they will come prancing back. spring brings irresistible attractions and they are likely out 'stalking' life. it is their nature. i think it is a sad thing to deny anything's/one's nature. actually, we simply can't do it. and what hard lessons for us humans, that we simply can not control everything. we must hold everything lightly and tenderly in an open hand. be loving and accept that there are things bigger than us and things we will never understand. that is, to me, the definition of faith.

give smokey and braise extra pats and cuddles--and let then do the same for you. and know stories never 'end' where we think they end. there's always another chapter...

Jan in Atlanta

There is hope! My beloved cat was missing for more than a month when I finally put up some signs in neighboring areas/streets. A woman called me to say that there was a cat who met the description who had been hanging out under her bird feeder (and accepting food from her, most likely). I visited the feeder a few times, then voila! There was my kitty. I had figured he'd find his way home, but for some reason that didn't happen. I was surprised that he had wandered as far as he had. That's my story; don't give up!

Kathleen from Connecticut


Post some pictures of the cats on poles or such near your home. Pleople are always doing this around here in Madison and it is so wonderful when we see....found posted over the picture. Since you said that it is spring,maybe they got the spring fever to go explore or since they weren't fixed yet, to "do some mating ( although they are probably too young for that).
They know where the love and home are, so there is a great chance that they will return if they haven't already.
I didn't let my cats out because of coyotes and foxes, but a few times my Emma escaped through a screened in window but always returned.
Bon chance



I'm so sorry about the cats! It's still early; maybe they will come home. I've had cats go missing and then turn up again days later. Have you checked with your neighbors? Put up signs? Best of luck with getting them back.


Kristen, dear lady, I hope they come home soon. I agree that they probably wandered off and will find their way back unless someone one found them and then they are at another house.Hard to believe that foul play could have happened to both. Two years ago, my sister's cat disappeared.She was as ill about it as you are now.Two weeks later, she heard cat crying outside and there she was but in bad shape. Rushed cat to vet.Holding her on her lap weeks later, my sister felt something sharp and took a huge bird talon out of Otis' side. He had been picked up by some big bird and must have been dropped from the air.I let my cats out, too.I can't bear to have them live their whole life inside. They were both feral cats when I found them. It is a hard decision to make and many of us go through this fear every day. I'll say a prayer to St. Jude in a moment that they come home.
Best wishes.

Judy W.

Kristin, as so many others have said, "don't give up hope." Cats are curious from the day they are born. We once had a cat who disappeared for a year in our rural area (really!) She showed up one day a year later and just walked into the house through an open door as if she had just been out for a little stroll. I have often wondered who had sheltered her for that year and was then grieving over their own lost kitty. Hold those little ones in your heart so that they can find their way back to you.

Aleta Thomas

This broke my heart to read it. I know what pain and sadness you must be going through right now. I would be beside myself with worry to if it had happened to my cat. Cat's do wander off, its in their nature. I hope that they are somewhere safe and find their way back to their loving family. I will say a prayer and light a candle here at our cathedral de Notre Dame in Grenoble tonight.

Lisa Kiely

sending comfort to you and hoping that Lily and Pancho return home soon. The intense joy our pets bring to us is balanced by the intense heartbreak when they're gone. Hugs to you.

catharine ewart-touzot

they may still come back, my daughter has now 2 cats, the 21 yr old died about 2 months of the 2 is a very small yellow one who does not like men so when I am there she takes up residence close to me and demands that I pet her from time to time at her request...(demand)...not being a cat person, the first time she went out, and did not return that day I was quite concerned (dogs don't do that) but my daughter said no she does that and in fact she did come perhaps this is just a bit of wanderlust. If not, remember what the joy of just being free and out doors ment to them. Do hope they come back soon safe as the day they left.

Sandy Vann

What a beautiful and heart wrenching post from you dear Kristin. Clearly it has touched all of your wonderful readers and their outpouring of loving support and creative suggestions is so uplifting. Take heart, keep your hope alive and well as we know you will. I join in with the hopes of all of your readers for their quick and safe return. I think that is it: they have gone for a Spring adventure! Still all of the recommendations were spot on and so worth a try. Visualize their returning to your loving embrace by morning. I certainly am. Bon courage et bises.


Dear Kristin, when I lived in California, my dear cat used to go out, but he always returned. I threw a birthday party for him on his 1st b'day, and wouldn't you know it, he went AWOL the day before! I was frantic with worry, but he came back less than an hour before the guests arrived!

I moved all over the US with him, and whenever possible, I let him go out and enjoy the world. Then I brought him to France with me 2 years ago. I moved a lot in France, and slowly integrated him into each location. He loved being outdoors and would beg to go out daily. He was very afraid of cars, and was always safe.

Sadly, he passed away in my arms in January at 11 years old, due to a heart problem. I cried hysterically for days, and blamed myself for somehow shortening his life by letting him go outside. Finally I found peace by understanding that he had the best of both worlds: lots of cuddles and love at home, and smells and adventures outside.

I still miss him bitterly, but I know I gave him the best life I could.

You did the same in your short time with Pancho and Lily. Don't blame yourself, and hope for the best.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you again for sharing your stories and your warmth and wisdom. These notes are the best balm, and they are so full of hope!

Judy Reardigan

Hi Kristin. I'm so sorry about the cats, and hopefully they'll return.
Speaking from a country-girl viewpoint, I find it very sad when cats aren't allowed to play and hunt outdoors, and I think the hours they spend doing that are more important to their little lives than the hours spent indoors making us happy. :O) It's just my opinion, but I think you gave those cats the best life you could.
Please don't blame yourself.


The best reason to keep cats indoors--neutered or not is to protect the birds you love to hear sing. It also protects the hawks and other raptors that soar so beautifully in the hard, blue, provençal sky because cats compete with them for small rodents--a raptors favorite food. Many cat lovers will claim that, not only do cats love to roam and climb, but it's natural. It may be natural but cats are listed among the 100 most deadly invasive species in the world. In a study supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service through the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Post Doctoral Fellowship Programm found that in the US alone, annual bird deaths due to cat predation are in the hundreds of millions. If you care about the environment, keep your invasive species inside.

s white

My heart aches for you.

Dawn Johnson

Sorry to read your sad news, I do agree with your readers' comments that you should not feel guilty. Cats should be allowed to go outdoors, especially if you live in the country as we do. My cat sometimes will disappear for several days at a time. Right about the time I start to get really worried for her she shows back up. I believe they can go pretty far and still find their way home. I once was given a cat by a friend who was planning on moving and couldn't take her cat with her. I kept her indoors for a couple of weeks until she felt established in her new home (or so I thought) but once I let her out, she never came back. I was too embarrassed to tell my friend that our cat was missing until she approached me and said the cat showed up at her door which was at least 15 miles from my house. Stay hopeful, and do follow the advice of your other readers, checking possible places they could have been locked up in, asking around etc. I am praying for a joyous sequel to this story, but it may take a few days.

Jeanette Locker

Our cat disappeared for 10 days. I just knew she was gone forever - it was also raining during that time. Never underestimate a cat. The best to you.


They'll be back! Cats love a loving home and I can't help but think they will return. They are off having some fun, but will want to return to their home-

Beth Fiacco

Kristen - sending ((hugs)) your way and praying for the kitties to return safely.


I dearly hope that your two chats will show up in a day or two!! I completely believe that your love for them was deep. Just a "note of advice" for when they return (as I hope they will!), We, too, see how much joy it brings our FOUR chats (yes! We realize that's excessive, but these are all strays who found us and needed care!). We do, also, let our cats enjoy the outdoors, BUT we really watch them and they're only allowed out into our fenced backyard while we are out there with them. When we come in, they come in too ). I say this NOT TO HEAP GUILT ON YOU, but as a way to help you avoid future heartache! Please don't be hard on yourself!! You gave them love and good care. I still think they'll remember that and long for that and so will return to you! I'll pray for that!


I certainly do NOT agree with you Jetagain.
Mother Nature has done a wo wonderful job (before we might destroyed it) and that is probably why we are so lucky to have food in our plate.
Our two kittens have left...maybe because it was their natural instinct, maybe because something bad happened,,who knows ?
We "like" to think that wherever they are, they are happy.

ken boyd

Giving my 3 fab furry felines extra love today.....
My heart is traveling 6,000 miles to you today Kristen .

Napa Valley


Three days, Kristen. They usually come back in three days. Maybe a day or two more.


Joanne Ablan

I was raised to be stoical, but the loss of our pets always put me
into a quiet storm and sometimes flat on my back so grief-stricken;
likewise my adult son when the Basset Hound he rescued died pre-
maturely of a stroke. I echo the readers who say "bon courage" and hope for a safe return. Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea.


This same thing happened to us here in Connecticut. Finally, what I found helped me the most was actually praying to our pets who have passed ... Asking them to help guide our lost ones home. Guess what? It worked! Just "Keep the Faith" Kristin. It is the best comfort of all.


Sending you a big hug and positive karma. I too have been reading your posts for years and never commented but today I had to let you know how sad I feel for you with Pancho and Lily missing. I have two indoor/outdoor cats, Blacky and Tigger and I know in my heart for them one day outside to climb trees and lay in the sun is worth a lifetime sitting on a sofa. Keep that in mind and don't lose hope. Bon courage

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Pancho and Lily are off on a springtime adventure. My mother used to say that I led my twin brother on adventures, so maybe Lily led Pancho. Either way, I think that there is a very good chance that they will return in a few days. My thoughts are with you for I know how much we all love our pets.

edie schmidt


Hope the chats return. Perhaps they have not strayed far. Once when we thought we had lost one of our kitties,we found her up the street,hiding under a neighbor's porch,frightened and confused.She was happy to see us.
We are pet-less at the moment but miss those furry companions.

Edie from Savannah


Don't give up. Ask all the neighbors....all of them and take a picture of them with you. Post photos around the area. Someone may have taken them in out of the rain, or like someone else said...they may be hiding. And as far as letting them roam the property, it is a better life for them. They will learn their boundries, especially when they return or are returned to you. I really suspect someone has taken them in thinking they were lost. Just don't give up. You didn't give up on Smokey.

Sue Lennox

We all have to hope they will show up soon!

suzana rose borlovan

Kristin, my heart is as heavy as yours. Our pets are a reflection on us and they ARE family. I do hope that this never ending story will be a fairytale and that they will re emerge from their adventure unscathed. Be patient, be hopeful and above all be re assured that this is in no way anyone's fault. Pancho and Lily will have a lot of explaining to do upon their return. x


Our cat Cho Cho disappeared for 38 hours. She escaped out of our enclosed backyard. But she did come back. Cats like to have adventures, so I'm hoping that your two lovely cats will come back soon.



By the time I finished reading your post, the tears were flowing like a river and my heart was heavy for your loss. I know that awful feeling and we have coyotes a plenty where I live so my remaining ones are now house pets, and the dog is always with me when I am outside. I have not lost a pet to the coyotes but my neighbors have. I do hope by some God -given miracle they return unharmed. If not may your heart heal with the love adding other pets who need a loving home, and prayers for the dear one's who have gone astray.

Maria Cochrane in Balsam, NC

Wow - your grief touched a nerve. Thank you for sharing. Father, you love animals and know each one. Watch over these two dear balls of fur. Bring them back to Kristin or lead them safely to another cat lover. And give Kristin YOUR peace that she IS a good steward.

We are cat stewards, too! and each time one is sick, wanders off, or dies or we have to make that AWFUL decision to put one down, it hurts.

Karen from Phoenix

I am so sorry the cats took off. I am hoping they are just wandering around and will be back soon. It is hard not to feel guilty but don't you gave them love and attention and such a good home. I will keep them in my heart that they will return to you soon. Sending HUGS your way.


I'm so sorry about your cats, Kristin. Hopefully, they'll turn up in a day or so, after their adventure.


Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

I am so sorry, dear friend, for your grief, worsened by your fear you have done something wrong here. You are not to blame. Please know you are loved and admired.

I am thinking it is quite the coincidence they disappear on the day of their appointment for their spay/neuter!?! I have experienced a “missing cat” many times with different outcomes. The most frequent scenario is spring; out hunting and playing in the woods and fields and forget to come home for a few days (or weeks). The first cat I adopted living on my own, disappeared for a month. I put up flyers, walked the fields looking for him, called into the dark depths of a hay silo, talked to neighbors and finally gave up hope. Then one typical Pacific Northwest rainy day he appeared franticly meowing at my door.

I hold you in my heart, wishing you peace, know that you have blessed these kittens with a good life and much love.


Our dear Kristi,
Our thoughts and prayers are with you always,but especially today.
Our four pawed kids are indeed part of our family,and to think of them in any other way except in our laps or arms absolutely rips out our hearts.
Please re read the last line of your post today about hope.This is one of the most beautiful and eloquently expressed statements that you have written.Your wisdom is one which we all will recall in difficult times.
J'espere aussi.
I send comfort,strength and my love.

Eileen Swingle

You said nothing about having canvassed the neighbourhood.......letting people know what they look like, their age, leaving phone numbers........cats wander off and I don't think they, at that age, are smart enough to know their way back.


Kristen, It is not the chats that you have to worry about they will be fine. It's the natural bird life that they will endanger and the fact that they are not de-sexed means they will breed.....and alas more wild feral cats!!!

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