21st April

Teddy Tales.   I can’t remember now who thought having a cat was going to be a good idea. Whichever one of us it was, they were wrong. After much duvet washing and disposing of disembowelled mice, the latest drama confirms what we all suspected all along, I was never cut out for parenting. The few minimal skills I may have had, dissipated seamlessly when my children grew up and now the poor cat is left with a hopelessly inadequate mother who even manages to leave him behind on the family holiday.

There is a precursor to this, many years ago when I was a teacher and took a school trip to the zoo, I managed to leave the most difficult and unendearing child behind when we left. Poor Teddy, you can pick your friends but not your family, and for a cat that little saying is pretty accurate.

Here’s the story. We are going to Foxton Beach for Easter and joy of joys, Laura is coming with us. So we set off late, it always takes ages to get Brian up, dressed and ready to go anywhere.  The traffic is horrendous and the car starts overheating in the traffic jam that reaches from Plimmerton to Paekakariki. Then there is the tension around it looking like we are going to run out of petrol. We can’t get out of the traffic jam to do anything about it and the cat is squawking in his cage the whole time. Brian sleeps, I fume and sweat and Laura reads her book.  Happy families!

A break at Peka Peka seems a good idea and we head down there to visit a friend with a house in the sand dunes. We get out of the car and for some reason, known only to other bad parents, I let the cat out of the cage. He shoots off into the sand dunes and we haven’t seen him since.

He has now been homeless and sleeping rough for three days.  This may have some parallels with the time we took the teenagers on holiday to Whangamata and they shot out of the car as soon as we got there, headed to the beach and were not seen for days either.  However, they did return when, much later, and after much sweating and fretting by the anxious parents, they were too hungry to take it any more. I hope the same thing applies with cats.

 My poor friend Sue is spending countless hours calling, banging a plastic bowl to mimic the feeding bowl and emailing forty neighbours. She has got the whole neighbourhood hunting for him and even put it on the radio. Last time I heard, she was planning laminated pictures for the lampposts.

 But Teddy is nowhere to be found. Why do I feel a secret sense of relief? No more duvet washing or buying of stinky and expensive cat food and the sofas will stay clean.   But I miss him. I miss him round my feet and seeing him sleeping on the sofa and skirting round the edge my vision the whole time.

 I hope he finds a nice family somewhere and that he is not just busy impregnating the whole neighbourhood. My pick is he will come home when the free and easy life starts to pall, after all it always does.