We are, and always have been, reasonably early risers. By 0730 yesterday we were up and doing and Portia was anxious to go out. Since we do not appreciate having to clean the floor after one of her "accidents" (she frequently misses her box) her freedom is one of our morning priorities, and so with collar donned (to operate the cat-flap) the door was opened and out she went. That was about 0745. By 0830 she had not returned, but that in itself is not unusual. As we were ready to go out ourselves then we left food and water, and the cat-flap open. We arrived home at about 1130 to find the food untouched. So far as we knew Portia had not eaten since the night before, had certainly not had her daily drugs and was now missing. Again!
And so began again the search of neighbour's gardens, the woodland which surrounds our property, garages, outhouses, undergrowth and anywhere we could think. Nothing, but this time at least the search was in daylight. By now it was gone 2 o'clock and a little light lunch beckoned, but before we could indulge the phone rang.
A veterinary practise some 8 miles away said they'd had our cat brought in and had traced us through the microchip she sports. Portia had been found wandering in a reasonably distant and remote part of our neighbourhood (a good ¼ mile away) evidently confused and obviously old and ill. Most vets are closed at the weekends and so the very kind lady took her to a vet within the store Pets at Home who traced us. We raced to rescue Portia, forsaking lunch, and brought her home with, unusually,
Another neighbour identified for us the kind lady who had taken in Portia, and we were able to phone and thank her. Fortunately she is a cat person who also runs a sanctuary in Greece and herself has two Maine coon cats. She leaves the country in another week - we dread to consider Portia's fate had her adventure been a week later.
We are resolved to not let Portia have free reign again, she is not safe anymore. The aperture in the back gate is blocked and her forays into the garden, which is otherwise enclosed, will be supervised. She no longer jumps high enough for the top of the fence. This morning was instructive. Portia was not happy at the new restrictions on her freedom, but over time she'll get used to it. We are not happy either at the new restrictions on our freedom but it is necessary for our sanity. We shall continue to monitor her progress and her adaptability to the new arrangements, which may become easier as the weather cools. We love her, and want to keep her with us for a lot longer yet.