Saffron, my orange cat, immortalised in song and my furry friend since 1993 (it sounds like he’s died, doesn’t it? He hasn’t…) has lived in at least ten houses and two states. He is, it seems, quite adaptable. He is also, on occasion, quite stupid. A month or so ago our landloard wandered by with his old, semi blind, and generally decrepit Alsatian dog. The dog decided to wander up on to our porch, where Saffy was waiting to defend his abode, the trailer, from any approaching enemies.
M later described Saffy’s method of attack as ‘a furry out of control orange rowboat’ with slashing paws instead of flailing oars. It was interesting, to say the least. The dog yipped and ran for the driveway, while I apologised to our landlord.
“No problem,” he shrugged, “the dog has to learn that it’s not his territory.”
He sounded equable, but I suspected that he might be secretly planning Saffy a simulated ostrich-kicked demise. First he would use woodworking skills and create a lookalike ostrich foot, stamp Saffy to death with it, and then leave him near enough to Jake the Ostrich to be absolved of any blame. Yike!
So last night when Saffy didn’t respond to repeated calls for him to get his furry arse inside NOW! – we began to have those little tingly nasty feelings. I went outside with the torch at about 10.30pm whistling for him. I asked Matilda, the horse, whether she had kicked him to the other side of the paddock and had just neglected to tell me. She looked at me with soft eyes and a long face that said, “Where’s the carrot? Aren’t you supposed to give me a carrot whenever we talk?”
I wandered around to Jake the Ostrich, but he is never too forthcoming, and I couldn’t imagine that he would divulge his badness. I decided that Saffy might have got locked inside Jim’s house on the other side of the hill, as there is a small child there that would probably like feeding him. I based my assumption on the time in Seddon when we lost Saffy for more than 24 hours – until he came home sleek and brushed, with a vague waft of perfume. I imagined he had been sitting in some aristocratic lady’s powder room helping her select which diamond earrings to wear, and that he had allowed her to use his furriness to powder her décolletage. Anyway, I digress….
M looked and whistled. Made cat food tin noises. Rattled the dry cat food bag. No cat. We went to bed. Mow, in his special status of the One Remaining Cat, was given special dispensation to sleep at the end of the bed. I had Saffy dreams. We woke up. Mow was still in place. Saf was nowhere. M went out and did more whistling, and then came in and made breakfast. I wandered, in pajama pants and thongs with a bowl of porridge, around the edges of the paddock looking for orange fur. M pulled on his boots and prepared for a proper investigation (which I was putting off, because it meant that there really was a missing cat).
I had headed over to Jake the Ostrich to trade my porridge for information, when I heard M.
“I found him!”
I galloped around to the front of the trailer. And there Saffy was, only a bit more dishevelled than usual.
“Where did you find him?”
M shook his head.
“He was locked in the van all night.”
“Locked in the van?”
“Locked in the van.”
I looked at Saffy, who purred at me.
“Couldn’t you have said something?”
I looked inside the van, which still had the mattress in it from our trip to Maldon. On top of it was my coat, with a small cat shaped indentation and some wisps of orange fur. I think he still has at least seven lives intact.