Henderson has been with us a while now … how long I’m not entirely sure without checking our records. It sort of feels like furever but he wasn’t here at Xmas … so maybe not. Nevertheless there’s been enough time for him to arrive here apparently on death’s door, rally round sufficiently for it to be sensible to microchip and vaccinate him, take him for his second vaccs 3 weeks later … and that still seem like quite a while ago.
He’s made himself at home … and is a much loved resident, despite his rather unreliable grasp of litter tray etiquette. He’s mostly been content to just snooze and eat …. and cuddle but started to show some interest in the outdoors a couple of weeks ago. It is quite literally a building site out there so not entirely easy to let him begin to explore.
We decided that the safest way would be for him to borrow Rufus’ jacket.
As a back up, Flipper was unusually helpful and definitely on his case. As soon as he was out the door she flanked him and began showing him around. It was so sweet to see her keeping an eye on him, even when she started to be a bit more subtle about it.
He enjoyed it …. so we repeated it a couple of days later and then last weekend while it was nice weather we decided he’d come out jacketless and help me clear the shed. We don’t normally use collars but we have some special ones with our phone number on expressly for the purpose of letting rescue cats out for the first time – kindly donated by Kitty Collars.
The plan initially went well and although he wasn’t terribly helpful with the shed he stayed close and supervised. Then the next time I turned round to look for him he was gone. We’ve all been there … letting cats out for the first time. The logical part of me has learned that they usually disappear for a few hours and then they saunter back as though nothing has happened. The feeling part of me is nevertheless worried sick. The therapist part of me watches quietly as head and heart battle it out, with the dice heavily weighted towards the heart.
I learn by experience that Henderson is not an easy name to shout multiple times in succession and reflect on my choice of simple two syllable names for my other cats. I plod up and down my own road and the one that backs on to ours, calling and peering into gardens. I berate myself for not having made a more careful assessment of what i suspect is partial deafness. Then again … any auditory assessment of a feline has to allow for selective deafness. Our old Sooty (RiP) could be oblivious to me hoovering round him, but hear the fridge open from 3 gardens away.
Flipper and Honey picked up on my anxiety and decided to join me in the search. Flipper chattered loudly and excitedly each time I shouted, drowing out any possibility of hearing a reply from a disorientated Hendo. Round the corner we were joined by a couple of other friendly cats who wanted to know what all the fuss was about and the daughter of a friend. I began to look like the Pied Piper and neighbours would point behind me if I explained I’d lost a cat. Then the big bully tabby from up the road joined us and Flipper stopped in a garden to argue with him. Honey and the two hangers on set off back towards home and then we encountered another neighbour with his dogs. Traffic was temporarily halted while the crowd was dispersed and cats were posted to safety through hedges.
Henderson was still not found. Difficult to get on with anything with the worry of that, but I’d force myself to do something for 20 minutes before repeating the search circuit – back bedroom window to check gardens, front bedroom window to check road, up my road, back down my road, round the corner, up the next road and back down. Strepsil to soothe the throat. Clamber over the building stuff in garden to check bits I can’t see from bedroom window.
And finally … at the end of one the circuits, Flipper shouting excitedly. I follow her and there’s Hendo at the bottom of the garden. With some effort I suppress the traditional greeting for a lost loved one … you know the “where the hell have you been …. don’t you think I’ve been worried sick ….. etc”
Poor lamb …. he was exhausted after his adventure and just crashed on the table. Flipper still wasn’t taking her eyes off him though.