The following details were written by the staff at the vet's surgery onto a small filing card over the phone on 13th January.

 ‘LOST: Tabby cat, no microchip, no collar, no distinguishing marks – 4 years old.’

 

The caller, full of hope, desperation, anxiety, sadness, wanting to find their cat …. or, in the worst case, find closure. Then the veterinary nurse placed the little card in a box along with details of other missing cats and dogs, snapped it closed and put it away.


Tabby O'Malley aka MontyIn late January this year, a tabby cat appeared on the patio of Tom Cat Towers, his face staring intently in at me before eating the food left out for garden guests. The cat was clearly ravenous and would gobble down as much and as quickly as it could then just melt away like a ghost.

From then on, quite late, in the dark, the worried face appeared night after night for a feed, having first stared in for a minute or so as if checking up on something. The patio window was opened and more servings were placed out for the new garden guest who was becoming rather a regular and seemed to have quite an appetite!

I called him Tabby O’Malley. O’Malley was clearly a very much loved cat who must have got lost or perhaps been left behind when his owners moved. O’Malley was beautifully marked with a gloriously shiny coat. However, no-one knew anything about him. No-one had seen him before and O’Malley was not going to be caught, running away to hide under trees when approached.

O’Malley then started to come during the day, as first thing in the morning the patio was loaded up with goodies for the various garden guests who trundle through the garden in need of a feed while I’m at work. So far I have 5 regular strays and some wannabee cats who chance their paw before running off. Plus, a fox, blackbirds and some hedgehogs who all come to dine. It’s a case of first come, first served when the food goes out! And O’Malley made sure he was first in the queue every time!

Still very skitty, very cautious, O’Malley would start to hang around the garden, under the bushes, always watching, but would disappear if I approached.

Last week something changed. When the kitchen door was opened, Tabby O’Malley rushed in and wolfed down all the food on the feeding station served up for the resident felines of Tom Cat Towers and rubbed round my legs. From then on she, (for indeed Tabby O’Malley turned out to be a girl, not as originally suspected a tom), then focused on me.

She would leap the 2 metre gate to follow me, meowing and crying all the way to the shops and back. She would sit on the wheelie bin, staring into the kitchen through the window, or walk along the kitchen windowsill announcing her presence. She was either clamped to the patio waiting for food or on the roof where she would patrol all house exits and windows from there in case I appeared. A furry head would pop out over the roof tiles mewling greetings, hoping for food.

She also, last week, then allowed herself to be picked up off the wheelie bin and tipped on her back for some love. She burst into joyous purrs as her tummy was tickled!  She was desperate for love, desperate for a home. We contacted Neighbourhood Watch and printed off photos in the hope that someone knew who she was.

Tabby O'Malley with vet nurse On Friday I managed to get her into a cat cargo carrier and straight down to Saint Ben of Park House Vets in Stafford. O’Malley was scanned. No microchip. My heart hit the floor. Surely this magnificent moggy was much loved and being missed by someone?

Then the nurse had an idea and fetched a small plastic box with cards in, as she flicked through them she found one which read:

 “LOST; Tabby cat, no microchip, no collar, no distinguishing marks – 4 year old.”

Ben looked at the cat and felt that she was younger than the 4 years old detailed on the missing cat. My heart hit the floor again. Also the lost cat on the card lived some distance away.

The veterinary nurse called the man who’s phone number was detailed on the card. She said he was overcome and shaking, almost tearful hoping that this was his cat, but didn’t want to come down in case it wasn’t his cat. He didn’t want to build his hopes up. So he sent his family who arrived with a computer tablet with a photo of their cat on it, but they weren’t hopeful.

Tabby O'Malley with her rightful ownerAt first they weren’t sure. But as the nurse enlarged the picture and went through various markings, comparing them to O’Malley, it was quite obvious that this was their missing cat whose name was Monty!

What had caused the confusion was that Monty, now sitting on the vet’s examination table, was rather larger and considerably porkier, than when she went missing, but as Tabby O’Malley, she had been first at the patio food each time it was put out!

They did comment that people thought she was a tom!

From 6th April 2016, it will be law that all dogs are now micro-chipped. It is sad that this law doesn’t extend to cats too. The chances of reuniting unmicro-chipped cats are slim, very slim. O’Malley’s owners, or rather Monty's family had contacted just three vets in our area back in January, one of them just happened to be the Sainted Ben. He wasn’t their vet and Tom Cat Towers is at least 3 miles directly as the crow flies, from her original home. It was suspected that she may have got into a vehicle that accidentally took her from her home turf.

Tabby O’Malley, aka Monty, was put into a cardboard cat carrier and went off home with her family, to be spoiled, loved, and to spend a luxurious night on a duvet instead of on the dirt under some trees   ….. and hopefully to be micro-chipped so that this never happens again to her again

So this was a tale that ended well. The garden is quieter, almost empty without Tabby O’Malley. But I’m sure the jungle drums are now beating out along the feline telegraph that there is now a vacancy at Tom Cat Towers for yet another garden guests in need of a free feed!

Carol Lake

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