This is tough.
I’m not writing this for sympathy or for loads and loads of comments. I’m writing this so that all the lovely people who cared about Holly disappearing know that she came home. I’m writing this so that all the lovely people who shared my FB posts or who looked for her or who offered support and advice know that she came home. I’m writing this so that all the lovely people who knew and loved Holly know that she came home.
Nearly seventeen years ago a neighbour came to me and asked if I would look after her son’s cat. The poor kitty was climbing the walls to be outside, but her son and his partner lived in such a busy part of town she likely wouldn’t have survived. So his mum came and asked me if I would take her in.
Of course I said yes, and Luke and his girlfriend brought her around on boxing day 2006. Hence her name. She was a tiny thing but she attached herself to me straight away.
Holly loved to be outside, hunting in overgrown gardens, climbing the highest trees, running through fields. We would see her on the opposite side of a massive field, just a tiny white dot in the distance. But as soon as we called her or whistled her, she would come galloping home.
The only time she disappeared was when she managed to get trapped somewhere, such as when she fell through the roof of a derelict greenhouse in an abandoned garden, or when she was accidentally locked in a neighbour’s shed. If we called her, she would call back, and that’s how we found her.
That changed eighteen months ago when Holly took ill and we were sent home with her to make her ‘as comfortable as possible’. She was an old lady by now, and she was suffering from old lady syndrome. She did survive, though. But it took us a while to realise that she was totally and completely deaf.
No longer could we risk her going out on her adventures for fear of her getting lost, because she wouldn’t hear us calling her and wouldn’t be able to call back.
She got out of the garden in February and was gone for just over a week. Some neighbours spotted her in their garden and came to let us know and with the help of pet searchers, we were able to bring her home. She shouted at us a lot as though it was our fault, but she was happy to be home. We had her micro-chipped then. There was no need before. She was unlikely to be stolen or taken and she always explored fields and gardens rather than roads.
Three weeks ago, she got out of the garden again. We thought the garden was water-tight now, but obviously it wasn’t Holly-tight. One neighbour said they thought they’d seen her trying to work out how to get back into the garden. But every time we rushed to where she was spotted, she was gone again, and we didn’t know where to direct the pet searchers to look.
By now Holly would be at least seventeen, she was completely deaf, partly blind, and she was showing signs of dementia. We started to lose hope of ever seeing her again, assuming – hoping – that someone had taken her in and was looking after her.
We were having tea on Tuesday evening when a phone call came in from an out of hours vets attached to the PDSA building in Sheffield. Three weeks after she went missing, a lovely family found her collapsed near a quarry only half a mile away from our house, and they took her to the vets, who picked up our details from the micro-chip. There was no immediate danger but she was in a bad way.
When we asked if we could come and get her and bring her home, they said that of course we could. It took us twenty minutes to get there and she was pleased to see us. They were still pumping her with fluids and giving her some food, but they were happy for us to take her home so long as she went to our own vet the next day.
Holly was happy to be home. She ran around the house checking everything, and she followed me everywhere. She had some food, she drank some water, she used her litter tray, and she told us off a few times. She was very weak, though, very dehydrated, and very thin.
She survived the night but, sadly, she didn’t make it through the next day. Our vet thinks she may have suffered kidney failure. We think as soon as she was home safe she stopped fighting. We are just so grateful that she did at least make it home.
The poet thinks that perhaps this was her final big adventure. We like to believe that she is now having her biggest and most exciting adventure ever. One thing is for sure, she would have hated being a house cat.
Run free now, you beauty. 💔