Although this is not the actual cat… it looks very similar!
We had already done a full morning’s voluntary work for the animal centre… a dog, three rabbits and a cat had been transported to the vet’s surgery for treatment.
We had done the shopping for the mid-morning break for the workers at the centre. We had driven to the other side of the city to deliver instructions the the sign manufacturer, and had been to the carpenters’ shop to collect two large sacks of sawdust for the small animals.
It was time to head home to our own dog to take her for a walk along the Loughor Estuary. It was lovely and peaceful and she had a good run around whilst we enjoyed the views and the spring sunshine. Just as we were returning to the car, the mobile phone rang. It was the centre’s manager. They had a very sick cat which needed to be driven to the vet.
We were due to return to fetch the morning’s animals so we left early to fit in the extra passenger, a lovely ginger cat who was put into the ambulance in his cat carrier by a member of staff, and covered with a blanket as he was ‘not a well boy’.
Dave was driving, and when we were just half a mile from the vet’s, the cat started mewing. Without turning round I reassured him that we would soon be there, and not to worry etc., etc…… as you do when carrying nervous animals.
The next minute there was an extraordinarily loud screeching from beside my right ear. (In the small van there is no guard between the cab and the back of the van)
I looked round to find myself face to face with a very cross cat! He had somehow escaped from the cat basket! Scared of losing him, we stopped and sidled out of the cab and into the rear of the van and eventually managed to persuade him that he really did have to go back in the box! We double checked that the gate at the front of the box was secured properly this time, puzzled that a reliable handler could have made a mistake in not fastening it first time.
When we arrived in Walter Road in the Uplands area, we got out of the van and started to walk towards the vet’s, chuckling at our good luck in being able to secure him before he could get out of the van itself.
We still don’t know how he managed it, but suddenly, the box shook, the blanket which was over him twitched, and with one bound he was out!
There he was on the kerbside of the busy main exit road from Swansea towards The Gower. Astonished, we dropped everything and made a dive, but it was too late…. like a streak of lightening, he shot across the road, narrowly missing cars on the way.
Safely on the other side of the road, he took refuge in St James Gardens (lots of long grass and trees). After the pair of us had risked life and limb to cross the busy road, Dave tried to climb the metal railings, but thought better of it and followed me along to the side road and into the Gardens through a hole in the railings there. But the cat was narrow enough to pass through at any point he chose…. and he did … several times …. in several directions. There was the usual abundance of cars parked all along St James’ Crescent and he must have hidden under every one of them at some point!
We were joined by a lady who had witnessed the problem from her office window, and by a young boy from the nearby school who was certainly physically better equipped than either of us to bend down and look under the cars to pinpoint “Houdini’s” constantly changing hiding places . (Its not actually so much the bending down but, rather, the getting up again that becomes difficult)
He didn’t stick to one side of the road, either. He swapped sides constantly, and we had to leap out in front of cars to slow the traffic down.
Suddenly Dave shouted: “This way, quick!” and he was off, one tiny ginger streak followed by two puffing OAPs and a panting secretary.
Eventually, six roads, scores of cars and several gardens later, he turned into a blind alleyway. Not a small alleyway, but certainly more restricted than the open highway!
He was about to make his final bid for freedom via a twelve foot high stone wall covered in ivy, rather like the one in the picture above. Dave shouted to me to dive on him…. ..”NOW!”…. but I knew I couldn’t bend far enough or quickly enough. So I hesitated and it paid off. As he mounted the wall and reached my face level, I managed to get my hands around his middle. Dave quickly arrived and took a more secure hold of him and we managed to find our way back to the vet’s without being scratched to peices. There they quickly found us another, more reliable, basket and after some persuasion, he agreed to go into it.
He didn’t look too much like a sick cat. He sat there purrrrrrrring.
I think it was the best adventure he had had in ages… or maybe he was just amused reminiscing about the sight of us running for miles around the Uplands faster than either of us has moved in years?
And the obviously faulty cat basket? Scrapped!