Redemption

I have been remiss in posting here of late. There are no excuses other than life taking up a lot of room in my head. Plus, a new computer distracting me, a work-in-progress I’m trying to finalize and a bunch of other (fairly major) things worthy of their own posts. More to come soon, juré, crâché. (That’s French for ‘I swear’…)

Plus, most importantly, November. My most-detested month is now behind us. It was mercifully short due to everything else going on. Now, December has come in with a bang in Central Switzerland as it has in much of the northern hemisphere. With a mood-boosting ton of snow. Schnee! Neige!

For us November ended on a rather astonishing event. You may remember that we moved last year from a house in France to an apartment in Switzerland. At that time we decided to downsize the pet population. I did not post much about this at the time as I wasn’t particularly proud of it. Basically, we decided to rehome our two cats as we were moving into a space with no direct access to the outside. My excuse was that they were outdoor cats and that surely we would find loving homes for two sweet, if senior, cats? The real reason was that I couldn’t face the idea of all that hair and being a full-time cat caretaker. Mea culpa.

A very kind friend who lives in a neighbouring town offered to have the cats at her place for the interim. Within weeks, we had found an adoptive family for the elder male cat and other other, a female, had run away. Guilt-racked, we posted notices all around the village, called the local animal shelters and went out looking. But as anyone who has ever known a feline will attest, cats do not come when called. And when they’ve decided to go into hiding, they cannot be found.

The winter was cold last year with a ton of snow. I sometimes pictured Bianca having graced herself into a new home, or alternatively I imagined her hanging out in a barn with a whole herd of cats. At worst I assumed she’d been hit by a car. Sometimes I dreamed about her, feeling like I’d abandoned a child. After several months, I gave up worrying. We got rid of all the cat accoutrements.

You feel it coming, right? Out of the blue last week I got a call from a German-speaking woman, who fortunately also spoke English.

“Mrs. Lewis? This is the Tierheim Allenwinden. We found your cat.”

Shock. Silence. Brain scrambles. “Which one?”

“You do have a cat?”

“Yes. I mean no. That is, I did have a cat, two in fact. The female ran away over a year ago.”

“A year? That’s amazing. When are you coming to get her?”

I went that afternoon. She was dirty and matted but in pretty good shape, all things considered. We decided somebody in the area must have been feeding her. She had been turned in by a woman who apparently found her just a block away from where she disappeared.

The vet shaved a big wide stripe down her back to remove the worst of the mats. They were amazed at how well she had survived as a feral cat all those 14 months.

She has forgiven us and we have decided she deserves to stay. How’s that for redemption?

Happy December!

Update January 2022: We ended up contacting the woman who had turned in Bianca to the shelter to thank her. It turned out she was the granddaughter of a 90-year-old woman who had been feeding our cat for the better part of last year. As the grandmother had to move into a nursing home, she had not wanted to just abandon Bianca. We sent her a bouquet of white roses and a photo of Bianca just before Christmas. Yesterday we heard that the grandmother sadly passed away. 💔

22 comments

  1. margaret21 · December 2

    My daughter can top that story. Last year, their cat, who disappeared seven years ago, and whom they assumed had been run over was returned by a family who’d been feeding her, took her to the vet, who read her microchip. And they all lived happily ever after.

    • MELewis · December 2

      How strange that must have felt for your daughter! And I wonder why the family turned her in after all that time? Unless perhaps she had been moving around during the 7 years and only been recently fed by the family…? Our microchip crossed a border so it was all the more amazing they were able to trace us. Glad we both had a happy ending!

      • margaret21 · December 2

        No, Elli’s cat had only recently turned up to the people who eventually reported her. How lucky that yours got back, despite the lack of passport!

  2. midihideaways · December 2

    What a delightful story!! An early Christmas present for you??

    • MELewis · December 2

      It does feel like a gift to be able to make up for losing her after all. And the fact that she not only survived but seems more or less fine is a bonus. Even the dogs seem to accept her presence. But ask me again in a few months when her lovely white coat has shed all over the apartment! 😉

      • midihideaways · December 4

        I love cats but am highly allergic to them, unfortunately 😦

  3. Katherine Wikoff · December 2

    What a lovely story! It sounds as though you are meant to be together.

    • MELewis · December 3

      It does sort of feel like that. Reminds of that famous poem, Desiderata: ‘If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it is yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.’

  4. Dale · December 2

    Awww. I’m glad you decided to keep her after all. Sometimes, life makes our choices for us!
    Happy December! And yes. Buh-bye November (though, to be honest, ours wasn’t all that bad, after all).

    • MELewis · December 3

      Life does indeed point us the way. 😊 Glad to hear November wasn’t so sad in your parts, Dale. You are rocking that new profile pic, BTW!

      • Dale · December 3

        It does! And, yeah, it took longer for the leaves to fall. Frankly, this first week of December feels more like November!
        Why thank you, kind lady! 🙂

  5. Becky Ross Michael · December 3

    That’s quite a cat story!

  6. Ally Bean · December 3

    Oh what a wonderful story. It has a happy ending, and confirms my observation that cats find you regardless of what you want to happen. Bianca looks content in the photo.

    • MELewis · December 3

      To be fair, that photo was from before the move. 😉 However, she does look pretty well the same now that all the knots are out of her fur and she’s back in her comfort zone. Bianca is still adapting to her new situation while totally reveling in being among her people (even including the dogs) again. For whatever reason, and despite our wrongs, she has chosen us as her family, which is what cats do as you so correctly observe. Thanks for the moral support!

  7. Colin Bisset · December 4

    There’s many lessons in that, I suspect – karma, don’t count your chickens, etc, etc. It’s rather marvellous… I had to leave my cat behind when I moved to Australia. Even though I was never a cat person, Augusta was quite dog-like and rather wonderful. But the guilt of getting rid of her… I mean, re-homing her was crushing. Thankfully my sister came to the rescue and Augusta lived out her final years happily stalking field mice in a big garden in the north of England…

    • MELewis · December 4

      How heart-wrenching to have to leave your cat behind when you were so attached. Yet how nice that she stayed in the family and got the big garden! I can relate to not being a cat person as we love dogs and the cats were originally our daughter’s. But they were part of our family. Bianca is really a sweet cat and has clearly been starved for affection so we are doing our best to make up for lost time. Karma, as you say!

  8. Vanessa in France · December 4

    I’m glad Bianca’s story has a happy ending. Cats are amazingly resilient. Our own Bella went walkabout a couple of years ago. We had given her up, but she returned a fortnight later, ravenously hungry but apparently unscathed. We think she was shut in somewhere but had access to water, if not food. Since then, she never strays far from the house. I hope Bianca will appreciate her new home.

    • MELewis · December 4

      Glad your Bella made it back! They really do seem to have nine lives, don’t they? We are keeping Bianca inside for now but I do see her eyeing the outdoors with interest. Hopefully by the time she begins to go out on the terrace in a few months she will feel enough at home here not to wander off.

  9. Garfield Hug · December 5

    I am so happy that Bella got home after 14 months! It is a Christmas miracle indeed. I am glad you are reunited with her and that she will not wander off every again.

    • MELewis · December 5

      Thanks, Garfield! We are keeping Bianca under close wraps for a few weeks until she gets used to us again. For now she seems to be enjoying the warm underfloor heating and the steady food supply! 😻

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