Last week, my two year old black cat, Mac, gave us quite a scare when he didn’t come home one night. Mac’s the kind of cat whose life and its timings are ruled by his belly so he is always home for his dinner, usually within a few minutes of us walking through the door. And you should hear his cries and yowls if we’re not fast enough getting his meat into his bowl. In fact, Mac’s the only reason we’re still forking out for tinned cat food – the other two would be happy enough with just biscuits and the odd treat but not Mac, no sir-ee!
So when he failed to come home, we were worried. Still, we reasoned, next door’s teenagers were having a party while their parents were away and since we would have preferred to be anywhere but in our house, maybe Mac would come home once the noise stopped (if it ever would).
I don’t know how many time I woke up in the night, but despite Horatio’s best efforts to convince me that Mac was home (most nights, Mac wakes me up in the darkest hours by chewing my toes if they fail to stay beneath the safety and protection of the duvet) by gnawing on my foot (the one and only time he has ever done that) but once the sun rose and banished a sleepless night, Mac still wasn’t home.
Mac - 29 April 2009
B and I kept telling ourselves that he was probably locked in someone’s shed but as I set off for the farm, it was hard to stop myself from wondering if I’d ever see the greedy guts again.
Once I’d fed the pigs and chickens, I rushed home, got changed into my work clothes and headed off to earn a crust, still thinking the same gloomy thoughts. I have to come home at lunch to let the dogs out, and was able to persuade work to let me work an extra hour that day in exchange for a two hour lunch break so I could look for Mac. There are 40 or so houses on our block. I know this, because I knocked on most of them, asking whoever answered if they’d seen a black cat, and to check their sheds to see if he had been locked in by accident.
Most people were lovely and offered to check immediately but it was embarrassing to find out how many people knew our cats intimately.
“Oh yes, they’re yours are they? We always have black cats in our yard, we wondered who they belonged to.”
“Now, is that the older looking cat, quite small? Or one of the bigger, younger ones?”
“Oh no, sorry to hear that. Is is the one that’s all black, or one of the ones with small white patches on their chest? And is it the one with the bigger patch or just a few hairs?”
Thankfully, just as I was getting my lunch ready, desperately hoping that my efforts would be rewarded, Mac strolled in through the door, almost without a care in the world. Apart from one, that is. He headed straight for the biscuit bowl and tucked in, as though he hadn’t eaten for twenty-four hours.
He ate and ate and ate, had some water, greeted his brother, said hello to Snipe, and then the three cats headed off outside to enjoy the sunshine.
Many, many thanks to Margaret for posting about her experiences when her cat, Pebbles, went missing, as that’s where I got the idea to knock on our neighbours’ doors and ask them to check their sheds.
Interestingly, neither Queenie nor Horatio left the house for more than a few minutes at a time until Mac came home, which was very unusual as the day was hot and sunny, the perfect weather for cats to be out and about. They knew something was wrong, and they weren’t leaving until Mac came home.