My cat went missing
by Helene U. Taylor
My lovely cat, sleeping in the garden.
Hi, I'd like to tell you the story about when my tabby cat went missing, so here it is: my cat was borne in November 2001 and I got him from a charity together with his sister who unfortunately disappeared in early 2004.
He has always been a very loving cat and has never been away from home more than half a day, usually only a few hours at the time. I have a cat flap in my back door, and he is free to come and go as he wants to, day and night. He always calls me when he arrives through the cat flap – as to say “I’m home,
where are you?” and I always answer him, well, that is if I am home and awake!
But one Sunday in March 2010 he went out as usual in the afternoon and was out the whole day. He didn’t even come home while I was making dinner, which is very unusual, because my cat knows the time, he knows when it’s around 7:30 and I usually start cooking my dinner. If I am late getting started, he will usually come and find me and sit in front of me, staring at me as if to say “don’t you know what time it is?!”
If I make a move, he will be up on his feet before I know it, heading for the kitchen. If I don’t follow, he will be back after a few minutes, sitting down in front of me again and resume the staring tactic until I give in and follow him into the kitchen! The reason for all this is because while I make my own dinner, he always gets his second meal of the day – just the same old cat food he gets for breakfast, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference; it’s the highlights of the day every time I get the tin out of the fridge :-)
Back to that Sunday in March; he didn’t turn up for dinner, and he didn’t turn up later in the evening, which is very unusual – he always lies in my lap while I watch TV after my dinner. And when I went to bed and he hadn’t turned up I knew something was wrong. I hoped he would be home the next morning, but he wasn’t, and I went out regularly in the garden calling for him, in case he had been in a fight and was too hurt to come home.
After a week I made a poster with a photo of him and printed up enough copies for all the houses that have a garden into the square I live in, in all 4 streets, nearly 60 in total, and my son went and put them through people’s doors. No one called unfortunately, and I tried to prepare myself for the fact that this would be the second cat going missing.
This is the thing about having cats; it is a risky life being a cat in a big city, the main hazard being created by cars. So as a cat owner I realise that there are certain elements that I have no control over what happens to my cat every time he leaves through the cat flap. I have no idea where he goes, how far he goes, what he does, if he visits other people and if he eats other people’s food...all these things are entirely up to my cat, I have no control over it – but I would really like to know!
One thing I do know is that my cat occasionally visits a man who uses a very nice aftershave! Whenever he comes home smelling of that aftershave, at least I do know he has been back there, although I have no idea who that man is and where he lives of course. I also think my cat visits someone who feeds cats, or perhaps set out food to the foxes, which some people actually do!! I can tell by the amount of food he eats here at home that he must have found food elsewhere too. My cat has always got dried cat foot available, I never remove it, and yet he eats less tinned food in some weeks compared to other. I am pretty sure he has found some little old lady feeding stray cats in our area, and he is lining up along with the rest of them looking as hungry as he can manage to get his share. It’s probably better and more expensive cat food than what he gets at home too!
As the weeks went by without my cat turning up my hope of ever seeing him again dwindled, and after 2 months I had no hope left at all. It was spring and warm weather, but I could see no reason why he hadn’t come home, other than if he had been injured so badly that he had been killed. During the summer I was asked by several people if I would have another cat again, but I thought it was too soon to start all over again. Besides, I would never take on an adult cat; I would only take a kitten I could bond properly with, and they are a lot of work the first year so I didn’t feel I would be able to do all that at the moment.
Then one evening, it was actually another Sunday, just as I was getting ready to go to bed I heard the cat flap slam. Not that that noise was anything unusual; every time it is a bit windy the cat flap will slam, it’s just a sound I was used to and I took no notice of it. I had been thinking of covering up the cat flap, as I obviously didn’t need it anymore, but just hadn’t got around doing it yet. So there I was, in the bathroom brushing my teeth, with the door half open, and suddenly I felt something stroking my bare leg. I literarily jumped, luckily not making a noise, as that would probably have scared what stood in front of me....because right there on my bathroom floor stood my cat, after 4 months and 3 weeks away! And he was just as affectionate as usual, he behaved just like he always used to, he looked just like he used to, wasn’t skinny at all, not even slim! And the first thing he asked for was food, then a cuddle on the sofa and then he slept in my bed the whole night and hasn’t left the house for more than a few hours at the time since then, which was August 2010. Amazing huh? :-)
I really, really would have liked to know what happened to him. What made him not come home in the first place, and what kept him from coming home all those months? Was he injured and took all this time to heal? Not very likely, he would have been very skinny, because if he couldn’t have come home he probably couldn’t have found much food either. Did someone out there take him in and adopt him so that he “forgot” about me and his home? Don’t think so, we had a great bond which seems to be exactly the same as before, so why would he have had temporarily amnesia for nearly 5 months and then suddenly remembered me again? What about this one: there is a garage in the centre of the square, right over on the other side from my garden. My cat is always lying on top of the wall at the end of my garden, looking down on their yard so he is probably a frequent guest there.
What if he climbed in to the boot of a car they had left open, and they closed it without seeing him; the owner came to pick up the car and drove home – which could have been very far away, and when they came home and opened the boot, my cat probably just ran out in panic....and then my cat spent all those months finding his way home to me. It’s just speculations of course, but my cat isn’t telling me where he has been and what he has been up to, so all I am left with is guessing. I really would have liked to know! And, more importantly, I would have liked to know so I possibly could have prevented it from happening again. I thought he was dead, and I was preparing myself for perhaps making the decision not having a cat again, to spare myself for the heartache of losing yet another cat.
I hope he is back for good :-) I hope whatever made him disappear won’t happen again, but if it did, I won’t give up hope so soon. I have seen now that he can come back after a very long time. Sadly, that didn’t happen to his sister. But whatever made him go on his excursion, something made him come back, and that’s what makes him come back here every day. A lot of people who don’t have cats say that cats only come home because they know they will get fed. That’s so not true. A cat has a bond to it’s owner similar to what it had to it’s mother; it can be a very strong bond if you cuddle and give your cat a lot of attention or it can be a weak bond if you give it less attention, but food on it’s own is not enough for a cat to keep turning up and asking for attention, if it only got food the cat would leave again as soon as it got fed and not stay and sleep and ask for your attention. My cat and I have a very strong bond, I know what he wants most of the time, and he also responds to me surprisingly well.
He knows for example that it takes me a lot longer to walk down the stairs in the morning now than it used to do, so he no longer run down the stairs to get downstairs for his breakfast. Instead he takes the stairs in my pace, waiting on the landing for me, before jumping off a few more steps, turning around and looking at me to see that I am still on my way and when I am almost down he will run off and sit outside the bathroom door waiting for me. He knows there will be no food until I have been there first! Another thing he does, which is really strange....during the night he usually sleeps on top of a work surface I have put up in the hallway right outside my bedroom, on a thick blanket. But sometime during the early hours of the morning he usually comes into my bed, as I leave the door ajar, and he will sleep the rest of the night in the foot end of my bed. But when I am in bed with a migraine, he always come and lies on my pillow, close to me. This is quite strange, because I can’t get him to do this normally, if I ask him to come and lie closer he might come and lie down for a few minutes, but then move away down to the foot end pretty soon. But when I have a migraine, he will lie next to my face, purring for hours and hours. It happens so often it can’t be a coincidence, I am sure he can sense that something is wrong with me. I quite like it and it doesn’t usually disturb me as long as I can manage to keep his tail out of my face :-)
I realise that my post is getting very long, I hope you are still reading and if you are interested in more stories from me you can go to my blog where you will find this story and many other: http://graphicality-uk.blogspot.com
Thanks for reading about when my cat went missing and came back nearly 5 months later :-)