• Gisèle Schembri

What My Missing Cat Taught Me

Up to last weekend, I had the intention of talking about a particular something on today’s post. However plans often get derailed and Monday night, the unthinkable happened! I called out to my young cat Sam and he didn’t appear. I called and called and both my female cat Atleha and I looked all over the place for him. Till I remembered opening the balcony door and realised with horror that he must have somehow jumped out of it and gotten lost. He confirmed me right by appearing on the top of a wall I couldn’t reach and disappearing again, into the balcony of an empty apartment that had barred doors so that I couldn’t access them to get him back.

That night I spent an hour hanging onto a ladder from my downstairs neighbour’s yard, hoping he would jump back onto that wall from where I could now reach him. When I started to get dangerously sleepy, I got back down and had to give up for the night, cat nowhere in site.

The following morning, I went into the empty apartment where I had last seen him jump, with the permission of a workman on the site. My Sam had by then gone back off to perch on another wall that was unreachable from literally everywhere! For two whole days, my mind couldn’t stop thinking about my poor cat. I tied a sheet to my balcony and threw its other end over to the wall where I had seen him perch that first night. I put food out in my balcony as well as his litter. I borrowed a cat trap from Animal Welfare and set it up in my neighbour’s yard. I made a ‘Missing’ poster which I posted on social media and which people shared on. Then two nights in, when I called out to him, he appeared again on the wall and enticed by the smell of a tuna can I held up to show him, he managed to make the tricky jump back in between the railings of my balcony, arriving safe and sound!

I have had Sam for only some three months, yet his forward character and playful nature meant that I had missed having him around. Atleha, previously visibly worried about him, gave him the cold shoulder for making her go through the ordeal of two days apart. From his end, Sam hissed at her and expected to be the King of the Home, where he settled in as though nothing had happened and once again tried to get all the cuddles for himself.

Now that Sam is back, I stopped dreading last Monday night and instead am trying to see what lessons this ordeal has made me learn. Firstly, never underestimate a cat! I had let him use the balcony because in my head, there was nowhere he could possibly jump off to from there. Apparently cats’ tails help them make all kinds of stunts, I now got to know!

Another lesson was to give both my cats the attention they deserve. With Sam around, he always hogs all the attention. During the two days he was gone, I rediscovered my bond with Atleha and I want to never let that go again.

A third and very important lesson I learnt was to never give up. That first night when I lost him, I feared him gone for good. My conscience told me to never stop trying to get him back to safety, but my mind kept preparing me for the possibility that he was never coming back. A big ‘Thank you’ to my friends who are also cat lovers, who all gave me some input that helped me not to give up hope and also, to keep at it trying physically to get him back. I had little hope of hearing his meow when I called out to him on Wednesday night, and I also doubted that the smell of tuna (another friend’s idea) would be too enticing for him to give up on. Patiently squatting in my balcony slowly shaking the sheet so that he would grab onto it, and holding out a long piece of wood that I managed to push through the railings and towards where Sam was, I directed him to where was the access back into my balcony. In the end, my reassurance drove him to attempt the jump back, a tricky one that even a well-experienced cat carer told me was pretty tough for any cat to get right.

So there it is, my little rascal boy taught me so much this week and in the process made me realise just how much he means to me.


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