As a side issue, I have always had 'outdoor' cats since being a child, and was raised to think that keeping an animal permanently indoors is cruel. Domestic cats still have a wild streak, as do domestic humans, and if you told me I could never go outside and run and play and roll around in the grass freely, I would probably bite and break things too. There is a proposal for Canberra to become the first contained-cat city in Australia. I appreciate the arguments for this, but I just can't agree. It would be like having an animal confined permanently in a zoo with no hope of rehabilitation and no purpose of education.
To return to the point: Chester was missing. I spoke to all the neighbours; I made up leaflets and posted them in letterboxes; I put up flyers; I phoned the local vets and the RSPCA to ask them to look out for our cat (he is de-sexed and micro-chipped and wears a collar with my contact details); I posted messages on Facebook and the Canberra Lost Pet Database (a great resource, incidentally). I received many words of support and encouragement - Chester has a great many friends and admirers - but no-one had seen him. I was in despair.
We missed him desperately. We missed his adorable little face, his fluffy tummy, his soft, silky paws, and his chattering, trilling and purring. We missed him running up to us when we came home from work, nuzzling his nose into our neck, curling up on our lap and snuggling in behind the crook of our knees to sleep at night. Our house felt empty without him; it wasn't a home.
Yesterday morning I received a phone call from a lady called Sarah in a suburb 10km away, across several busy roads and on the other side of a (snake-infested) hill. She said she knew that cats generally made their way home, but she had found ours crying outside their house that morning. She had given him a drink and checked his collar and decided to give me a ring. I practically burst into tears and asked if she could keep him in until I got there, then I raced round to collect him. He had been entertaining her three-year-old son, George, who had been showing Chester his dinosaur collection and playing hide and seek around the sofa.
|Chester with new friend, George|
Chester will not reveal his adventures, so I will never know where he went nor how he survived. I only know that I am incredibly grateful to Sarah and George for being good people and doing the decent thing. I appreciate the support we've received from everyone who cares about Chester and cares about us enough to know how important he is in our lives. I realise that people aren't 'things' but Sarah and George are my newest favourites anyway. I'm thankful our world still contains such humanity. It's a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it's a massive thing to us. Thank you.