It's not funny lying in bed night after night dwelling on why you so called "rescued" a cat from the SPCA, brought him to his "Forever Home" where he was promptly terrorised (in his mind) by the Black Sniper, and finally ran away to a life of garbage bins and sticking out ribs. Nightmare.
What was I thinking? The phone had rung endlessly during the days that Benjamin, the fat ginger cat ran away. I now knew the existence of every ginger cat, large and small, old and young, thin and fat, between my home and the Bombay Hills. I could almost hear the sound of endless shed doors being opened and kindly people searching amongst old prams and gum boots for my traumatised cat. It was embarrassing to say the least.
Well, "never again", that what I was thinking. Poor cat. Poor Lilo whose prima donna status had been, albeit briefly, challenged. Poor me, who was now stuck with a lifetime of guilt on a mega scale. Toss turn. Toss turn. Lilo meantime did look particularly at peace as if a huge (fat) weight had been lifted from her glossy shoulders. She looked serene. In control. Satisfied.
On night number five, sleep finally came and deeply so. It was during this blackout that I awoke to a tumultuous event occurring on the bed. The duvet was rising and falling, twisting and turning like something straight out of The Exorcist. I shot to sitting and turned on the light - and there he was - kneading - purring - dribbling in ecstasy. I could not believe it. It was wonderful.
Benjamin's waiting bowl of biscuits was empty so he must have been scoffing mightily whilst I was asleep (he has strong food priorities). Lilo had also come into the bedroom and was sleeping in her "bedroom" bed (as opposed to her "office" bed or her "sitting room" bed). She had come to join in. So there we were, all happily reunited in the small hours of the night.
The next day everything was calm, Benjamin seemed to have learnt that the grass (or birds/mice) was NOT greener on the Other Side and Lilo was simply Not Bothered. Benjamin was sporting an abscess on his tail - so - there it was - the reason for his disappearance. Not the black Sniper with the long legs and clacking teeth but an Enemy Cat in Benjamin's new territory. He must have had a fight and whatever happened afterwards probably involved - fear, hiding, hunger and maybe even getting lost. But he made it home and thanks to Lilo's capacity for new learning - life is going on happily ever after.
Initially, when outside (Danger Zone) Benjamin made himself blend in with the garden. He seemed to know that this was a good strategy. Lilo would trot past him, unawares, as he imitated a garden ornament. If he heard her coming he would slither into the shrubbery until she passed by. Sometimes he would sit on a wall and watch Lilo trying to work out where he had gone. Eventually he gave up all that stuff and Lilo couldn't care less anyway.
Many weeks have passed and Lilo and Benjamin, like many married couples, totally ignore each other and get on with their daily lives in peace and harmony.
It has been a wonderful learning time and in the long run we are all better off. Lilo is still Queen Bee but has company, Benjamin has a home, I have learnt something new about how fat cats and snipers can co-exist and the neighbours have spring cleaned their garden sheds.
So, all's well that ends well.