The neighbour was leaving and taking Ollie with her. "You can come and see him," Kay said, "I'm not shifting that far away." It was then that I thought of the song from the musical "My Fair Lady", 'I've grown Accustomed to her Face'. We were accustomed to Ollie's face and we were going to miss him.
After Ollie had gone the place was ominously gloomy. I locked the cat door - it wouldn't be used again. I replaced all the ornaments on top of the television.
I even found myself dreaming about Ollie. Early one morning my dream was particularly vivid and I sat bolt upright in bed with Ollie's yowls ringing in my ears. Except that it wasn't a dream! The yowls were coming from outside the bedroom window. When I opened the window to let him in he launched himself at me as if he'd been away for years instead of a day or so. Ollie had walked home.
Kay came to pick him up the next day. "Oh, Ollie, what am I going to do with you," she said. Ollie smirked, he was very pleased with himself.
The next morning Ollie was back - and he had a companion - Kay's other pet, a black cat named Gipsy. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, Ollie had led Gipsy home. Only Gipsy wasn't happy - he sat under a Camellia bush at the back door and meowed his heart out. When Kay arrived she had two cats to take home and she wasn't pleased. "You are a bad cat Ollie," she said.
The pattern was set for the next month. Kay came and collected Ollie on a daily basis although Gipsy didn't follow him again. Ollie was a bit like an athlete training for the olympics. His times got better and better and he got leaner and fitter. In the beginning it had taken him all night to get home but he was soon doing the run in a couple of hours.
In the end Kay gave up. She bought around a pretty silver framed picture of Ollie. In it he was sitting on the TV, yawning.
Kay gave me the picture. "I think you have a cat," she said.
That night Ollie cleared the ornaments from the the top of the TV set with a brisk swish of his tail. For better or worse he was home.