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Friday, 25 December 2009

Herding Cat

Christmas Eve about 9:15pm, the cat decided it needed a sniff of the air. We've been slowly re-acclimatising Elbie to the outdoors for the last week, taking him first on a lead, and then as he doesn't go far or fast, just following him to be sure he doesn't get lost.

Beth escorted Elbie out, and I waited a few minutes to put on a hat and coat. I didn't bother with shoes, having my slippers on, as he wouldn't normally stay out for long in this freezing fog.

So, following Beth, we met up at a corner of a parking lot at the edge of the complex. Elbie was sniffing in the undergrowth as usual, then suddenly dived under the six foot tall boundary fence which had a 4" gap at the bottom. Nuts. I could see him through the gaps in the fence, but he was having far too much fun sniffing around and wouldn't come when called. Slowly he got further away, totally ignoring us.

Beth went back to the apartmenbt for cat treats, as Elbie can sometimes be enticed by the crumpling noise of the packet. She came back in minutes, which I had spent watching a black splodge slowly recede into the dark and fog, sniffing happily, until it vanished.

Beth followed the fence line which lead her away from the suspected cat location, while I head home for a flashlight, shoes and a mobile phone. Returning to the point where LB had gone under the fence there was still no sign of him, so I boosted myself over the fence and followed the line I thought LB might have taken. This lead me along the southern edge of a grassy field, (while Beth was making her way along the northern edge) and eventually to a corner next to a locked gate, and a couple of small trailers parked there. I use my flashlight to check under the trailers, then boosted myself over the chained gate, into a parking lot with two sheds, one of them up on blocks, and while I was checking the sheds Beth approached across a parking lot from the north, having walked rounds three sides of the fenced-in field.

There was still no sign of the cat. Our shoes were damp now, and we were not far from a road with occasional traffic. Beth headed towards the road, to follow it round to the south, while I scouted back north along the fence, still using the flashlight to check dark corners for a black cat. Nothing.

I passed through another parking lot, this time with cars and apartments round it. By this time it had become clear that if the cat was to be found by us it would be a miracle, and he'd have to return under his own steam, of be found by someone reading the nametag on his collar, which thankfully we had put on him a couple of days before.

Damp-footed and annoyed, I returned to the apartment, to discover LB sitting patiently on the mat outside, and very happy to be let back in again. I rang Beth, whio was only a couple of minutes behind me, and we were all home again in time for The Mentalist at 10pm, which turned out to be a repeat.

So we are now happy to let him wander unwatched if he wants to, as we know he can find his way home. Today he hasn't bothered to go more than a couple of yards from the door, so maybe he got a little rattled by the experience too.

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