To the extent that anything can be regarded as having a clear beginning, this saga began with my holiday last August. I returned to find that my home loving Sooty was out. Lets cut short a long story of tears and jet lag, and walking the streets with a torch looking in hedge bottoms for what my worst nightmare ….. and cut to the chase where the wonderful Moggy Maid who had been caring for the gang whilst I was away, came back for an extra shift, and found a very live Sooty in a garden on the next road.
We were one cat short the following day too, and the next ……. and eventually we rumbled that Sooty had a girlfriend in the next street who was feeding him evaporated milk. Initially, apart from the consequent tummy upsets, it was quite cute and amusing. He’d spend the day in the garden with his lady friend, then I’d pick him up on the way home from work.
Come the colder, darker days it became less funny. The lady for some reason was shutting him in her conservatory and then going off into the house leaving Sooty alone and unable to leave. I’d get home from work, tired out, only to find Sooty was yet again missing and would have to go to collect him, leaving the others resentfully waiting longer for their supper. The lady would often not answer her door, and would never listen to my pleas to not give him evap milk. She’d swear she’d given him nothing, in spite of the creamy white evidence around his mouth, and the er …. well the other evidence in the litter tray when he got home.
Loathe to fall out with neighbours, especially someone whom Sooty regarded as a friend I tried to just get on with it. We tried locking the cat flap and keeping him (and our course everyone else) in in the hope of breaking the habit. That didn’t work – the other residents started to go stir crazy and argue among themselves, and as soon as the cat flap was open Sooty was off for his evap!
I did wonder if he was really unhappy at home and this was his way of telling me. However each evening he seemed happy to see me and purred all the way home whether that was in the car or just on my shoulder being carried.
Frustration turned to worry and serious annoyance as Sooty’s health deteriorated and the girlfriend continued to ignore my pleas to not encourage him to spend time at her house. Detailed descriptions of his health problems and consequent vet bills were simply lost on her. Suggestions that she adopt one of our rescue cats instead were refused … as she didn’t want a cat!!!!!
The issue spread into the rest of the neighbourhood when my immediate neighbours caught the girlfriend peering through my windows and trying to entice Sooty away with her whilst I was at work. I wondered if they were exaggerating things a bit until the day when I was home but the car wasn’t on the drive and I witnessed this first hand! My friend and her daughter, who live midway between our house and the girlfriend’s got involved in intercepting their liaisons and returning Sooty to post him through the cat flap when I was out at work.
We hit crisis point when this friend came round and said that they’d driven down their road and found Sooty lying in the road outside the girlfriend’s house … just having a nap!! Thank goodness it was them and they drive slowly and are cat-aware. Her daughter (our little helper who child proofs our kittens for us) remembered that Sooty was deaf so wouldn’t hear the car, and got out and scooped him up and they drove him home.
I don’t like to curtail his freedom. Being deaf and black is a risk going out, but on balance we decided to take it in the past. Until the girlfriend got involved, Sooty would just have a little potter around his garden and then come in and snooze happily all day. I’m so cross that she’s spoiled this for him, put him at risk, caused me so much stress and make the lives of our other cats so much more difficult over recent months, and completely refused to listen to what I’m saying about the problem.
What of the cat flap you might ask …… if you read the title and are still valiantly reading …….. that’s coming in episode 2