Ordinarily Noodle has already staked her claim on our bed when we retire, and Q must negotiate his way under the covers on his side: she likes to be in between his feet. When I am away, she inches north, coming to rest in my place at his side.
But last night she was nowhere in the room. Maybe she's under the bed, Q said as he stretched his legs luxuriously. That could be; she goes under there to think about other cats who have hidden there over the years, traces of whose scent must remain, discernible to Noodle's acute little nose.
But she wasn't under the bed. I remembered noticing something odd earlier, at supper: she didn't come down to lick the plates, and she would have liked the venison we had. Hmmn. We each arise several times during the night: I looked each time I got up, and there was no grey ball of fur at the foot of the bed.
Sometimes Noodle gets stuck places. She'll follow somebody down into the basement and get interested in something down there, and then she'll be closed in when the person comes back up. Or she will enter a closet when someone opens the door and stay in there when it shuts. Sometimes she gets herself trapped in the back vestibule, and sits in the cold until morning, when we come and unlock the door to go out and feed the birds.
What makes it hard to find her is that she never says anything. She doesn't have much of a meow to start with, and she rarely uses it. She just sits in her prison until somebody comes to let her out, and it can be a while.
Stuck somewhere you'd rather not be? Can't get out by yourself? Don't just wait in silence for it to be over. Tell somebody.