Sunday, 15 January 2012

Ozzy and Smudge

Our sweet wee young tabby cat named Ozzy went missing in July 2011, six days after we moved across the island into our new rental. Already a feisty outdoor cat, she was not quite used to her confinement in the new digs when on a hot sunny day with lots of friends around, the door was left ajar. She never returned in spite of our searching door to door, calling her name in the forest, returning to our old house repeatedly, placing signs and notices everywhere. As the weeks mounted on, in spite of the most sincere and vigilent efforts of friends and neighbours to keep an eye out, we began to feel our hope fade.

 ~ OZZY ~

Then, one warm and dark windy evening, as summer itself was fading, a friend called and told us she thought she had Ozzy in her back seemed possible, yes, the cat was small and fluffy...and our friend's home was within route of our old place.....our hearts raced, we all jumped into the car and whirled over to her yard, and shone a flashlight into the bushes...only to discover an entirely different cat staring distractedly back at us, avoiding direct eye contact, skinny, matted and feral in nature. Still, she trotted happily toward us for a sniff, and didn't try to flee. Her fur, though in awful shape, was ultra silky, soft and long. It had a very smudgy quality to it, a blend of caramel toffee, black and beige in a smeared collage.Our friend owned two dogs and couldn't take her we did. We put up signs, photos and notices, called the local pet find but there had been no reports of a cat of her description missing. I had planned to smudge our new home with sage the weekend we found this  tortoise-shell stray, and since my intention to do so was heralded by the arrival of this appropriately smudgy creature, I dubbed her Smudge. Every day for a week or so after we brought her home, we put butter on her paws, as we had meant to do with Ozzy but never had.  Come what may or may not have, now Smudge is plump and healthy, with a thick puffy pelt, and very affectionate.  She's an outdoor cat, but she knows this is her home. Perhaps, on one of her excursions into the woods, she'll bring Ozzy back home to us. Until then I will try to believe that Ozzy perhaps met the same fate, and is cosily nuzzled in a warm lap in another forest cabin, and that she may show up one day, any day, to take Smudge back to her home too.


Apparently there are quite a few stray cats on Gabriola island...the natural forestland which is relatively free of predators...(well, there are eagles and raccoons, and even a rogue cougar has shown up over the years, but that is very rare)...offers a tempting wander for cats who enjoy chasing little things and climbing trees, sprinting across fields and lapping up rainwater. Many of the people I've met here have taken in stray cats. The local Cat Find folk also have some encouraging stories to tell of cats who have traveled from one end of the island to the other, and some who took months and months to travel full circle and eventually show up on their old stoop. It is very sad when a cat goes missing but somehow, here on Gabriola, there is the sense they have at least been welcomed and even likely sustained by their natural surroundings.

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