It is no secret how much I love my cat family. Hugo, Patch, Jessie & Batcat.
I’m so boring when it comes to my cats and I can almost feel everyone’s eyes roll into the backs of their heads when I start to tell yet another story about them. If I work with you, if you’re my friend, neighbour or family, or a stranger in the street, you will hear me talk about at least one of my four cats during an encounter.
This one is about Patch.
I used to have a beautiful black cat called Scarlet but she took it upon herself to leave me and I never saw her again. She just never came home and since then, I have been dreading the day that I notice I’m a cat down. It may be less stressful to keep them inside, but I feel like it goes against their natural behaviour.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my cute but scraggly Batcat, had her momentous achievement of getting into the house through the cat-flap (it had been months of trying to coax, cajole and con her through it). Since then, not only does she come in, but she goes out too; she’s a fully fledged cat-flapper-cat.
Alas, a few days after the cat-flap breakthrough, Patch decided that the day had come to put me through the same as Scarlet.
Although Patch is one of my more aloof Kitties and only comes to have the odd bit of attention when no other cat is about, I can always rely on her come meet me in the street when I home from a night-shift.
On the fateful morning of April 12th I didn’t get my usual fussy Hello. A little worried, but also aware of my tendency to over-react, I went to bed knowing I would be up in an hour or two for my new internet upgrade, and she would probably be home by then.
Less than two hours later I was awakened by my horrifcally loud door-bell and two very polite, smiling internet engineers.
“In there fellers,” I directed them to the living room at the back of the house, “help yourselves”. I stuck my head out of the front garden gate and gave a short whistle for Patch. Nope, still no sign (“don’t over-react, don’t over-react, don’t over-react”).
After a few trips in and out of the back garden, the odd whirring of drilling and stapling of wires, they were done “Bye, love” they say, and they were off.
Still, in the hours to come, there was no sign of my fur-baby Patch. Thoughts of all the horror stories I had ever heard were beginning to race through my mind and by tea-time I had resided myself to the fact that she wasn’t coming home or she was cold, injured and hiding – alone and frightened somewhere.
I went out several times into the night looking for her. Every moment that passed only convinced me more that she was gone for good.
By the next day I had over 50 shares on a Facebook post, had driven about Hull with my sister following up on any dead cat sightings people posted, and replied to several comments and messages from well wishers and cat lovers alike providing me with comforting advice (which surprisingly, actually was comforting).
"She may have been spooked and is hiding until it's safe to come back"
"She may have just gone exploring, Cats do this from time to time"
"Mine was missing a whole two weeks before she came back, I know what you're going through, try not to get too upset at this point"
Other comments included advice about when was best to go and look for her and different ways to lure her back.
The next day at work, I was worrying the whole time. It was so nice to hear from people and what their experiences had been. I was trying to convince myself that this was a normal thing that could happen and maybe I shouldn’t bee too worried at this point; it had only been a day (this was not me over-reacting by the way).
By the end of the day, one of my posts had racked up nearly 80 shares. That may not seem a big deal to some people but to me I was so grateful that there was a whole 80 people that wanted to help me out.
It was a late finish from work and it wasn’t until 11:30pm that I rocked up at home with a frog in my throat when I realised for a second day that she wasn’t home. All the comments and well wishing that had kept me calm through the day didn’t seem to mean much when I didn’t see her trot up to me in the street.
It was a little after midnight when I went back out shaking my treats, with no real expectation of seeing Patch… but who comes trotting around the corner like nothing had happened?
Of course I spent the next 20 minutes sobbing uncontrollable tears of joy and Patch did nothing but try and wriggle free wondering why I was being so clingy.
She hasn’t done it since. In fact, in the last few weeks since she has even taken to sleeping upstairs with the rest of the cat-fam. I aren’t complaining.