As I walked out the front to call the kids in for dinner, our neighbour across the road appeared on our stairs. She had a favour to ask.
Turns out she's looking after another neighbour's cat, a cat who had evaded coming indoors for two days and missed two insulin shots in the process. The cat, it seemed, had cottoned on to the folks being away and was keen to stay out, even jumping off the top of their porch last night to escape capture. The neighbour hoped the disregard was personal, and perhaps I'd be able to wrangle old Fergus.
As we approached their porch, we could see him sitting on the top step. He's a decent sized cat with his fluffy, ginger coat in all it's dry glory, though I dare say with a drenching he'd lose half his size. His head turns towards us as we approach, his green eyes setting upon us, not another muscle moving. We agree that I'll head up and she'll cover the exit, or at least the one down the stairs. I step smoothly, moving in one fluid motion up three, five, eight steps. I bend as I come close, getting my hand to him right away and moving to scoop him up. Clearly this is not what Fergus is thinking, a with a quick claw to my hand and surprising spurt of speed, and he was under a chair and perfectly positioned out of reach. Seems he was happy to sit it out.
After some sweet talking and gentle cajoling, he came far enough to enjoy a scratch behind the ear. Almost within my grasp again, I leaned in fast as he scooted away faster, right off the side of the steps and leaving both want-to-be captors wide-eyed. After searching around into the back garden, we declared ourselves beaten and agreed to keep an eye out in case he showed again. By this time, the worry for his health was mounting. Nobody wants to lose a cat on their watch.
As we finished reading an hour or so later, my eldest asked if she could come and see if Fergus was back. As we approached his porch, torch in hand in the near darkness of the early evening, we saw green eyes glint out from behind a pot. We quietly turned the key in the front door, switching on a couple of lights leading to the laundry where his food lay waiting. Miss Eleven whispered for me to hold tight, Fergus was on the move and heading in the right direction. As he sauntered past us, he looked us in the face, meowed loudly and even paused to rub up against a leg or two. One final look, and he was on his way to dinner with all the swagger of a cat who knew that whatever was going to happen here, it was going to happen on his terms.
Dinner eaten, shot given, and he curled himself up on his mat and promptly shut his eyes. I guess he was done with us. We let ourselves out.