Normally, when I open the door of the cupboard where the food is kept, both the cats will come running from wherever they are for breakfast, or supper, as the case may be. On Sunday night, Missy came in through the cat flap, but not Katherine. I called her: “Katherine – supper!” but no result. Now, I am a terrible worrier and I try to train myself not to be, but despite my best efforts, I was still worried. It’s almost unheard of for them not to turn up for their food. I searched the house. No Katherine. OK, I would search the garden. And….no Katherine.
As Sherlock Holmes says, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Katherine was nowhere in the house or garden, so somehow, despite the Katzecure fences, she must have got out. With hindsight I think she must have been able to jump from stuff the contractors had left piled up, but at the time I was just symied. However, I had a look outside the garden, an exercise involving climbing on a stepladder to look over the fences using a head torch. (I suspect the neighbours are fairly convinced I’m mad. You may be, too). There were two cats in the next door garden, neither Katherine. However, I could see that there was a cat in a tree in a garden about three down in the other direction, which I became convinced was her. I could see the cat’s eyes shining in the torch beam; most cats will look at you for a few seconds and then look away, but this cat kept looking at me.
Now, suffice to say I’m not exactly proud of this next bit, which involved using various ladders to climb over neighbour’s fences in the pitch dark to get to a point where I could see the cat, and confirm that it was indeed Katherine. She was in a small but very bushy tree in a very unkempt garden about three houses down. She mewed at me a fair bit when I first turned up, so I don’t know if she was stuck or not, but despite spending literally hours clambering around in the brambles at the base of the tree there was no way I could either reach her or coax her down. In the end I decided I had no choice but to leave her to it, and, after taking off all of the Katzecure fittings on my fences so that she could get back into the garden, I banned Missy from the kitchen so that she couldn’t escape too and went to bed. But not, as it turned out, to sleep.
And, oh my god, that was a long night. I tried and tried to stop myself worrying. Katherine knew where she was, and how to get home. She would get herself down from the tree just fine in her own good time. She would be there when I went down in the morning. But, oh, the fears and the “what ifs”……
I slept not a wink, and at five thirty went down, hoping she would be in the kitchen. She wasn’t. I went out to see if she was still in the tree. She wasn’t – I climbed over there to check. On the upside, I now knew that she wasn’t stuck, or too frightened to move. On the downside, I had no idea where she might be or whether she had any plans to come back. The colleague from whom I got her has a lot of members of her extended family living on his property, many semi-feral – maybe Katherine had decided that a life of adventure was preferable to one of restrictive luxury. I called gently, but there was no answering mew.
I went back to bed with a cup of tea in a state of deep misery and contemplated a day of worrying, leafleting, knocking on doors. I looked up internet sites about missing cats. I composed an anguished Facebook post. At seven I went downstairs to make another cup of tea, leaving Missy snoozing on my bed, and glanced miserably up at the cat bed on top of the kitchen cabinets, which had been so empty an hour or so before. A little grey furry face looked back at me, its expression a mixture of slight guilt and sleepy annoyance at being disturbed just as she had got to sleep.
And, oh, god, the enormous, cosmic relief! The immediate reshaping of my grim internal landscape to one of unalloyed joy and release. Well, almost unalloyed – I’m still a bit worried about how she got out, but we’ll work on that. In the meantime, I’m afraid she and her sister are totally grounded, at least until the contractors have finished. I’m not quite sure what these two posts tell you, other than that worry is (mostly) futile and that my cats are a lot more capable of looking after themselves than I give them credit for, but I would have found it hard to write about anything else yesterday and I thought you would like to hear the happy ending. Tomorrow, back to tattoos!