This story is from Feb 2011 but I think you will find it amusing and it has taken me a little while to see the funny side of it ;) When someone asks you what were you doing last night, most sane people would look confused and say sleeping, or maybe they will blush and look away coyly – however, you wouldn’t expect them to say “turning my house upside and walking the streets” – this though, was precisely what John and I were doing for an hour and a half in the wee hours of the night in question.
We had just introduced Izzy to the wonder that is a cat flap, she loved this idea as it allows her to go in and out as she pleases during the day, without having to rely on her notoriously mean “pets” to open the door for her. We also love it as it keeps some of the precious warmth we are fighting so hard to create in the house, even if to start with, we had to prop open the cat flap so her highness didn’t bang her delicate nose when entering or leaving her palace.
Now, we both decided that during daylight hours the cat flap will remain open, but at night, we would lock her in – we have too many nightmares about how the morning might come when you mix small, not very bright, black cats with dark, twisting Welsh country roads. On the whole, after a few “you gits, you shut the magic door” miaows and looks, Izzy accepts this too and will find somewhere warm and snug to spend her evening.
So, back to this particular night where, late afternoon, she wandered in for her normal, “you still here?” check and John locked the cat flap, we progressed with our evening and a good time was had by all. Then comes bed time, I go through the usual lock up routine, adding checking that the cat flap is still locked to it (hey, you never know, she might have worked out what bit to turn to open it) and then head upstairs to check the smallest members of our family, Izzy on my heels.
When I get into what we shall call the “Rodent Room” as it is where all the small fry live, my evening started to get a bit urm, “interesting”. Sergei and Alek had been fighting like cat and dog for the few days previous, and though I had left them to it hoping that it was just dominance squabbles that they would sort out for themselves, I had made a point of checking daily to make sure no serious damage has been done to either of the combatants.
This night, as I was doing this check I noticed that Sergei (who was very much the smaller, more timid of the two) was looking more then a little stressed, his coat on his tail end looked greasy, he was distressed and any time anything moved near him he would rear back in submission squeaking.
Well maybe I am too soft, but I decided enough was enough, especially when as I was watching Alek initiated another unprovoked attack on his smaller brother. John went down and fetched the small carrier we have on hand for emergency vet trips, put some sawdust in it and brought it and a shallow bowl (ok, a nutella jar lid) upstairs.
Gently I put Sergei in there, with some food, bedding and water, promising him that it was for the best, that at least here he wouldn’t be picked on. It was a hard choice, because although they fought viciously, they did seem to make it up and curl up again together in the end.
Once he was settled, I ran downstairs to check quickly for symptoms of wet tail – a nasty, often fatal, illness that can be brought on by stress. Although he had the matted fur, that was the only symptom that fitted (although I called the vet to get their advice, just in case).
Relieved, John and I headed back upstairs to bed. We had been laying there awhile, when in all innocence he asks “Where’s Izzy?” – the reason behind this is that normally, once the rounds are complete and we have settled down, there is a soft thump and our feet are suddenly unable to move, a routine that was absent.
“Good question, I guess I better make sure I haven’t shut her in with the little ones” I replied, and duly got out of bed to go check the rodent room for feline interlopers. No sign of her, so I started checking the other rooms as we closed most of the doors to conserve heat, calling her, narda, not a whisper.
Now this is a very unusual situation, normally me calling her will gain at least a chirp of recognition, so I wandered downstairs in my tee-shirt, and started checking the downstairs rooms, nothing…. By this time, John has also got up and is helping me hunt, knowing I won’t sleep till I know where she is.
Heart in my mouth, I go and check the cat flap, certain that I have checked it, and it was locked, but that “just in case” doubt was starting to flower in my mind. It was locked, so I returned to searching the house, calling, and offering bribes to try and get a response, still nothing. By now I was starting to get a bit upset, and John and I were going back over the evening, comparing notes on when we had last seen her, when we last had the door open, etc.
Having both searched the house, twice, to no avail I go back upstairs on leaden feet and start to get dressed. As I think it was Sherlock Holmes once said, “once you have checked all the possible, it is time to check the impossible!” – Logically we both knew she couldn’t have got out, but we couldn’t find her in the house…
I did two circuits of the house, calling like an idiot, checking under bushes, rattling treats, even wandered down the lane to see if she was down there, no small cat, I came back in, and started turning the house upside down again, while John, watching my growing distress took over looking outside despite my protests he should go back to bed.
While he was outside, I even checked the rabbit hutch, despite her being terrified of Brambles, just in case… such was my desperation at this point. It was on my dozenth check of the spare room I suddenly spotted that one of the wardrobe boxes we moved with had its door slightly open. Hope flared in me, I moved the boxes around it to be able to look inside, and who should be curled up, sound asleep on one of my old coats in the bottom of the box, blissfully unaware of the tears and tantrums she had caused, but the demon cat herself.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the look of “do you mind I am trying to sleep” she gave me had me almost to the point I could have happily throttled her if I hadn’t been so relieved about finding her safe and well. It was with many tears (of relief this time) that John and I finally headed back to bed, cursing the softly snoring cat in the box.
Moral of the story, when searching for a cat, ALWAYS check the boxes!!
I promised that I would tell you the story of how the princess, otherwise known as Izzy came to be mine, or rather, how I came to be hers!
She lived on our estate, belonged (and I use the word loosely here) to a family that lived opposite us – but from a very young age, almost day one in fact, she was kept outdoors, all her meals were given to her outdoors (which frequently meant she had to fight off the other neighbourhood kitty’s) and no matter what the weather was doing, she was denied the luxury of a warm, safe, dry home.
Personally I had never understood the point of them having her in the first place, I mean, surely if you get an animal, you want to interact with it more then just to stuff a food bowl under its nose twice a day?
Me, being soft as I am, couldn’t stand to see such a small creature out in all weathers, and it wasn’t long before (despite the strict “no pets” clause in my rental agreement) I was encouraging her to come in to my home for a little while now and again for some comfort and company. I was good, I never fed her – I would never feed any animal that I knew belonged elsewhere, and when she asked to go back out, I never refused her, no matter how much it tore at my heart to watch her slink out into the foul weather once more.
I was often found outside, playing with her, making a fuss of her, and talking to her – she seemed to enjoy the contact as much as I did, and regularly came running over when she saw me come home from work, or follow me to the bus stop of a morning to purr around my ankles till my bus came.
She also took to darting inside whenever the door opened, much to the annoyance of my then boyfriend who would then spend his morning trying to catch her and put her out before he left for work too. One particular day, he was running late, and she refused to go back out, hiding in out of reach places so he couldn’t persuade her. There were some leftovers from the night before’s supper on the side, which he had forgotten about in his rush to get out to work. I got home before him, and opened the door, went upstairs and saw a trail of pastry crumbs up the stairs, confused, I followed them, to discover a very sleepy little black bundle of fur curled up in the centre of my bed, with the remains of what had been a very tasty looking chicken and ham slice on the covers around her.
It wasn’t till I started to giggle that she cracked open an eye, yawned, stretched, chirped as if to say “so, you’re home now huh” and came over to headbutt my hand by way of thanks for her bed and board for the day before jumping with her customary thud from the bed and trotting downstairs to ask to go out. I nervously searched the house for mis-haps but much to my relief, there wasn’t a single puddle or pile to be found.
It was with a heavy heart I watched the family pack up and move, knowing that my time with Izzy was running out, but hoping that they would finally start to treat her like part of the family (not that they had shown any inclination in the 18 months I had known her). At first, I missed seeing her around dreadfully, I missed our interaction, despite me being friendly with several other cats in the area, but as the days went by, although I still missed her, the weight lifted somewhat.
About six weeks after they moved, after several weeks of severe weather, I was coming home from work in the dark, not really paying attention, lost in thought, when I rounded the corner to my front door. It was only when I heard a tiny squeak (she still hasn’t learnt to miaow properly) which was instantly familiar that broke me from my thoughts. Peering closer into the dark of my lawn, I saw a very thin, very sad looking little black cat – her third eye-lid mostly over her eyes, and generally in a very poor state.
I called her and she came over, warily nuzzling my hand before skittering off again, the weeks since I had seen her hadn’t been kind to this small waif. Hurriedly I unlocked the door, and tried to call her in out of the rain, she sat, looking longingly at the warmth just in her grasp but too afraid to trust the offer. I was at a loss, what had possibly happened to this confident, carefree little cat to make her so timid.
I ran up the stairs to my kitchen (it was one of these fancy maisonettes with most of the rooms on the second and third floors) and started rooting through my cupboards for something to offer her, all the time calling to her down the stairs and hoping she wouldn’t run off before I got back down to her.
Snaring up a tin of tuna, and a bag of those pre-cooked chicken bites, I hurried back to my front door. At first I couldn’t see her, but then came the same sad little squeak, and I crouched down, tearing open the chicken. It didn’t take long for her nose to start twitching, she was obviously very hungry, and gradually she came to me for the food.
My boyfriend came home, and hopped off his bike, and she ran. I sighed softly, loosing her quickly in the dark. He apologised and offered to go look for her when I explained what had happened. I refused the offer, hoping she would come back of her own accord now she knew there was food here. Over the next week, I repeated the same steps, most days she was waiting for me, or when she wasn’t the local kids (who knew she was back and without anyone to care for her) would knock and tell me where she was. I would go to her, feed her, talk to her and coax her near to home.
One night about a week after the first time she arrived on the doorstep I was feeding her titbits at the door when my boyfriend came home. Seeing what I was doing and giving me a resigned look, “Well,” I said defensively, “I can’t just leave her…”
He smiled, agreed, and snuck past us to go upstairs, leaving me to continue feeding her and tempting her nearer and nearer the door. When she was within reach, and seemed to be a bit calmer, I gently swung her up in my arms, backed through the door and kicked it closed.
At first she was nervous, but she soon found the chair and curled up to doze. While she was sleeping I snuck over to my friend’s house to beg some cat litter from her, I explained the situation and she was only to happy to donate some for me.
The setup wasn’t very sophisticated, an old Avon box lined with a black bag was her litter tray that night, and I shut her in the kitchen as I wasn’t sure she knew where the box was before I went to bed. She howled and howled to go back out, completely confused that this was now her home, I hardened my heart and ignored her, telling her softly that it was for the best this way.
It was a long night, and the start of a fairly rocky couple of weeks for us, but also the start of a life long bond that exists between us, something really special. But dear reader, I have taken up enough of your time for one blog – there is plenty of time for me to finish the tale for you, and many others to share with you too – so for now, I will say “until next time”