It has been a long time since I have published anything on this blog.
The world has changed, moved on.
In November, last year, the 4th to be exact, beautiful, graceful Casper disappeared. It was an awful cold, wet night and there had been local early firework celebrations for Guy Fawkes night. I think he had been startled and shot off into the night. He never stayed out overnight and had never been missing before. I stayed up until the early hours, walking around outside, calling his name, listening for a response. It was two years earlier, around this time of year, that Mowgli, our stunning, black bengal cat had been killed by a motorist, just outside our house.
The next morning, I quickly made posters and leaflets and walked around the local area, spreading the word that my boy was missing. It was so out of character, I was convinced he was dead. Pippin, Casper's brother, seemed aware of his absence but didn't seem too perplexed, but Rosie, our dog, pined for him. She stayed outside for long periods, seemingly searching for Casper. She didn't give up hope. She sensed that I was worried and she wanted to help me. Again, on November 5th, Bonfire Night, I stayed awake until almost dawn, calling for Casper, praying for his return. It was so cold, and there had been many loud fireworks shooting into the night sky for most of the evening. I reasoned with myself that if Casper had just been scared, he would hide somewhere and return when all was quiet. I told myself that if he was injured, he would not survive the almost freezing temperatures. I made a deal with my God. I pleaded for Casper's return and in exchange I would be a good person, a better person...
I had only one response from the many leaflets I posted through letter boxes - a lovely man telephoned and said:'Don't give up hope. Check everywhere in the garden and house.' His cat had been shut in a wardrobe in his house for 36 hours before they realised. It was a quiet, graceful cat, just like Casper, and so hadn't made a fuss. Thankfully they found it by retracing their actions of just before it disappeared. On the evening of November 6th, I was desperately tired and had given up hope. Just before midnight, I sat on the sofa and broke down. I cried so hard - he was dead, I was sure. I called Rosie in from outside. She was camping out again listening for Casper. She wouldn't come in. I went outside and gently told her that he was gone, he wasn't coming back and I tried to coax her into the warm house. She came to the door, then went back out again. I sat down for a while, sobbing to myself. Then Rosie came to the door and barked, as she always did, for me to open the door. So even Rosie had given up, lost hope. I opened the door. She just stood there, barking at me and looking over to the hedge. I told her to come in, it was late. She barked more excitedly and again kept looking to the hedge. She was trying to tell me something. I went outside and there under the hedge was Casper. He was in a pitiful state, and his leg seemed broken. He tried to lift himself up to walk but he couldn't. I scooped him up, I was ecstatic, he was home. He was clearly poorly but he was home. I thanked God, and thanked Rosie.
After a long operation and several days in the veterinary hospital, Casper came home, complete with metal pins in his leg, and a metal bar bracing the break on the outside. The vets said that he had almost definitely been hit by a car, and that he was lucky to survive. He had to stay in a crate for four months, but he made a full recovery. My beautiful Casper came home.
In March of this year, Casper was able to wander freely around the house for the first time since he had broken his leg.
Later that month, gorgeous, playful Pippin disappeared. He went out one sunny Spring Saturday morning and never returned. That evening, we had a house full of guests, so I thought that perhaps he had been spooked by all the voices. After my guests had left for their own homes, I wandered around outside until the early hours of the morning, calling for Pip. I thought I heard a cat cry, so I went to investigate, but there was nothing where the sound had come from. During the following days, despite lots of leaflets distributed in the local area, posters and posts in national and local lost pets registers, we never found him. I just could not believe that this was happening again, so soon after Casper's near miss.
Rosie stayed out every evening, waiting for Pip to return. Pippin was really Rosie's favourite. She still likes to sit out on the lawn until late at night, waiting, listening, just in case...
A couple of weeks after Pippin went missing, a lady knocked on my door and bravely admitted that she had ran over a cat fitting Pippin's description on that same Saturday morning, just a few yards up the road from our home. She said he ran off in our direction, that she stopped with her daughter to try to find him, knocked on several doors, but all to no avail - he had vanished. She said she thought he may have limped home. How I wish that were true. It seemed the deal I had made to get back one cat, was to lose another equally precious boy.
Pippin was just a few weeks away from his second birthday, we never found him. We checked local gardens, outhouses, sheds, parks. We had several calls about possible sightings. It all came to nothing. He has been missing for over six months now. It is that time of year again. Dark nights, cold evenings. Halloween and Bonfire night, spooks and loud noises. Almost a year since Casper disappeared.
If Pippin is still alive, he is still out there somewhere. Hopefully, not homeless, hopefully someone took him in, cared for him and loves him as I did. If he died, I hope that he died quickly without pain. I pray he didn't suffer. Goodbye Pippin.
Please be aware of cats, at this time of year. Cats do not honour residential boundaries, they roam where they please. Cats don't know that suddenly the day will end an hour earlier and we will expect them to come home before it gets dark. Cats have no concept of Halloween or Bonfire Night. Cats don't understand trick or treat, or why we insist on letting off small explosives in our gardens, not just on one night but for days and nights on end it seems and why we rush in our cars because it will be dark soon...it just frightens cats, sometimes it kills them.