I called the local vets, the animal control people and the shelters in the area and gave them all descriptions of my little hare-lipped wonder. I made posters and put them up all over the neighborhood. My roommate and I walked all over our little town, calling her name. "Neuuut! Neeeeuuuuut!" I must have seemed pretty strange, but I really wanted her back.
It's a fact that most cats don't go any farther than one or two houses away from where they are lost. Three days after she went missing, we went out to look for her one more time. (It was February and that night was going to be very cold; I was desperate.) My roommate happened to look under the next-door neighbor's porch, which was under constant repair, and saw something move. Hooray for my sharp-eyed friend!
Sure enough, it was Neutron. She was so terrified she hid between the joists under the porch. I talked to her, then reached way in and barely touched her chin and started to skritch her. She leaned a tiny bit closer; I managed to wrap my fingers around her front leg and ease her out of there.
After three days outside, this tiny cat was noticeably lighter, filthy and EWWW her breath was foul! But she burrowed into my arms and we went back home, most triumphant. A bath and a good meal, she was well on her way back to her happy 6-pound self.
That happened when she was nine years old. Neutron lived to be eighteen before she died of kidney failure. After her adventure, she never went outside again; she never wanted to!
(Who would have thought a Writer's Block question would actually get me writing again?)