‘I swear I’m telling the truth.’ My daughter rang one night to tell me she’d received a message from the Animal Emergency Centre in Glen Waverly. Someone had brought in her cat, hit by a car, and dead on arrival.
My daughter was stunned. She had gone away overnight with her husband and children and had left their indoor cat at home, locked in as ever. Had they by chance left the door open when they were preparing to leave, and the cat snuck out?
‘Where was he found?’ my daughter asked.
‘On Caroline Street,’ the woman at the other end of the phone said. ‘In Hawthorn.’
‘That’s a long way from home,’ my daughter said. She lives in Northcote. Then the penny dropped.
‘What did the cat look like?’ she asked. The woman described a grey cat with white trimmings. My daughter’s current cat is ginger. All over.
‘That’s Chan Cho,’ we both said over the phone in unison. A cat who disappeared over twelve years ago when my daughter was still living at home.
‘It’s possible,’ the woman said. Usually because the cat is registered whoever finds it returns them to their rightful owners, but ‘in this instance someone might have decided to keep the cat for themselves.’
We had long thought Chan Cho was taken. We rang the council at the time and no such cat had been handed in, dead or alive.
Chan Cho was an especially gregarious and docile cat. A fine pet. A gift to my daughter from her first boyfriend when she was only nineteen years old.
‘I feel cheated of my twelve years with Chan Cho,’ my daughter said. ‘I’m so sad.’
I resolved then to make enquires on the local Boroondara Facebook page to ask if anybody had noticed a grey cat missing.
A little sleuth work might unveil the thief. Though what is the point?
That evening on my walk with the dogs I found myself in Caroline Street. I looked at the houses, gentrified workers cottages. Now manicured back to all their Victorian elegance with bull nose verandas and ironwork lacework. On the other side of the street, a row of two storey boxy apartment complexes, all chocolate brown or brick veneer from the 1960s or 70s. Unlikely to house a cat, but who knows? They might have kept Chan Cho indoors and one day he escaped with no road sense.
Chan Cho had lived on our side of a major road for at least two years. He was old by the time he died. And we miss him all over again.
On my walk that night through Caroline Street, with our two dogs on their leads, someone had left a small coffee table on the nature strip, free to a good home. I took the table under my arm. The table is out of keeping with my style of furniture, but something my daughter might like to use in her lounge room. More her style.
Not the cat she lost, and inanimate, but still a find in face of her loss.