Staying out all night

At about 11pm last night we realised one of the cats was missing - Tom, who you might describe as having rather too much character for such a small cat. I often describe him using lots of other words that I don’t use in front of the children.

While this may not seem like a problem, the cats are only about 30 weeks old, and havenever been allowed out after nightfall. Their curfew has not been because we are especially worried about their welfare (there are three of them, after all); more because we are worried about the cost of patching them up after the inevitable turf wars. There are a lot of cats in our neighbourhood.

We took turns searching the house, the garden, and the nearby streets with a torch, shaking a bag of cat food as we went.

Nothing.

I volunteered to stay up for a bit - after falling asleep in front of the television, I woke with the sound of the cat flap at about 2am, and stumbled off in it’s direction. Not Tom - one of his brothers, testing the cat flap for weaknesses - we had locked it to only allow cats in.

I again walked the garden and the street one last time before retiring for bed, and was relieved in a way to find W asleep - I had feared she would be up all night.

The ambient warfare sound from the children’s bedrooms woke me at about 6:30am, and I glanced sideways. No W. By the time I got downstairs, she had obviously been up for some time - and was walking between rooms looking worried.

“He’s not back yet?”

“No.”

While making breakfasts and lunches, we talked about going door-to-door around the neighbourhood, to see if anybody had seen our missing cat. We imagined him being shut in somewhere, injured, or worse.

At about 8am I wandered to the far end of the garden, and fetched my bike. I heard a faint tinkling sound… the sound of a cat collar. Given that we have three cats, each with a collar, that I could see no cat to go with the sound, and that I didn’t know which cats were in the house, which were out, and where they were, I stopped thinking.

Something played on my mind though, as I pushed the bike towards the house. That tinkling sound was different than the others - it was slightly higher pitched. I walked in the back door, and asked W if his collar was different, and explained what I had just heard. She vanished into the garden with the bag of cat food immediately - I busied myself with brushing childrens hair, and constructing somewhere-near passable ponytails.

Suddenly there he was, in W’s arms. Tom. Adventurer of our back garden, and apparently now the surrounding area. Survivor of a night out on his lonesome. His bell did sound different.

The change in W’s mood was remarkable. Gone was the ashen face, flat voice, and frown - replaced with a huge smile, rosy cheeks and a spring in her step.

Of course Tom noticed none of this - he was too busy eating everything in sight. It’s hungry work - staying out all night.