After a little unpacking, looking through the mail, and getting settled back in, we were headed out to dinner when we ran into our neighbor, who told a story on herself that's too good not to pass along.
Apparently everything went fine while we were away, until yesterday. While out of the balcony (watering some plants for us, I think, wh. was v. nice of her), our neighbor happened to look over the balcony and saw one of our cats on the grass one floor below, looking up at her. Horrified that one of our cats had escaped, she rushed downstairs, where by calling it and offering it food, she finally managed to get it to come inside on its own accord. Once inside, it went out onto the balcony. Just as she was beginning to relax, she glanced over and saw our other two cats were sitting staring at it, all puffed out and hissy. That made her worry, so she looked around carefully, and found our third cat upstairs in some hidey-hole. Which meant that the cat she'd brought in wasn't our cat at all but a stranger who looked somewhat like one of them (Rigby). So she isolated the newcomer onto the balcony, where she tried to convince it to go into the cat-carrier we'd left out, just in case anyone needed to go to the vet for any emergency while we were away). It had v. definite ideas about cat carriers and wasn't having any of it, so it jumped up on the rail and then, before she could stop it, jumped off. It landed in the grass, apparently fine (Rigby used to do that jump occasionally, though we eventually convinced her it was a bad idea), and walked away.
So, no harm done. The stranger got some food for its trouble, our cats got something to liven up their otherwise uneventful day while we were away, and our neighbor, who cd have just kept quiet about the whole thing, since it turned out okay, gave us a story I'll enjoy telling and re-telling.
And our cats tonight? All rallied round, curled up in laps or nearby on the couch, v. much glad to have their people with them again. I'd quote Pippa Passes at them, but I don't think they're into Browning.