Although we haven't yet got a cat flap installed, now that she's had all of her jabs and things, Minou is allowed to wander freely outside for as long as:
-> we are at home
-> the back door is open
-> it's still light
Actually, she doesn't seem to wander very far at all, and she quite often sits in the garden yowling until someone comes out and plays the stick game with her (it's a very simple game really: you take a long twig from the bush in the garden and then the cat chases after it for several hours). After all that time of only being allowed out into the garden with a chaperone, I think she quite likes the company and isn't so sure about wandering too far on her own.
That's not to say that she doesn't wander though... oh no. She's quite a brave little thing and will fearlessly try to see off cats of twice her size when she thinks that they are encroaching on her territory (which now seems to extend outside the garden gate and out to the two cars parked immediately outside). Occasionally she will disappear out of sight entirely, only to reappear at the kitchen door every 20 minutes or so, as if she's checking that we're still there.
After getting up early to drop C. off at the station after her taxi let her down, I let the cat out the back whilst I was pottering about in the kitchen making breakfast, putting the kettle on and getting my football kit ready. After about 45 minutes, I was thinking about having a shower, but was getting a little concerned that I hadn't seen the cat at all. I went out the back and had a quick look, but no sign at all of the tell-tale "tinkle tinkle" from the bell and the tags on her collar. Hmm. I went back inside and fetched the tube of prawns and her bowl... a tink on the bowl and a rattle of the tube usually brings her running. Today, nothing.
I checked my watch. Nearly time to get showered and go to work. Now I was starting to worry... and then something caught my eye and I heard a faint "tinkle".
I looked up and saw that Minou was standing on the windowsill of the house over the road. On the *inside* of the window.
I'd seen the owner leaving about an hour before, so I knew the house was empty. I picked up the tube of prawns and found my way around to the back and into the garden. A kitchen window was open and there was a cat flap on the back door. As far as I know, Minou has never used a cat flap before, so I assumed that she had climbed in through the window. I quickly realised that she wasn't going to come back out through the window and that I was going to have to try and coax her out through the flap.
Was she having any of it?
Was she hell.
I rattled the prawns and called to her, and all she wanted to do was to wander about, clamber on the furniture and eat a second breakfast from the catfood that had been put down on the kitchen floor for the owners two cats (where the hell were they to protect their patch?). At one point, Minou yawned, and I really thought that she was going to curl up on the sofa and go to sleep.
I must have been there for about 30 minutes in all, trying to coax the damn cat to the catflap with a prawn and to either grab her, or encourage her through. No joy. She was keen on the prawn alright, but seemed wary of the catflap, and was doubly wary after a couple of failed attempts to grap her.
In the end, she came out under her own steam, looking a little skittish about the whole experience. She wouldn't let me get close enough to her to pick her up, but dashed out of the garden, down the alley and over the road until she was right outside our back door, where she mewled to be let in.
As soon as she was in, she mewled to be let back out again.
No chance sunshine.
It's a stressful business this cat ownership thing. This definitely wasn't in the manual.