Moo, my daughter’s cat had “attitude”. Discovered as a kitten in a dustbin in Dubai, his unfortunate start in life affected his relationship with humans. Aloof and distrustful - and who could blame him – the only certainty in his life was my daughter, Hayley, whom he adored. He grew into a weirdly handsome cat - large, black and white, with thick fur and an enormous fluffy tail, hinting at Persian lineage. Affection was limited to a few honoured souls. Believe me, the complement was a double-edged sword, for after arranging himself comfortably on your lap, he would start to purr loudly – in rhythm with his enormous talons digging painfully into your flesh... Prrrh/dig in...out....prrrh/dig in...out ...etc.
Imposing your will on Moo was done at your peril. Cat carriers were a particular anathema to him. For the necessary veterinary visits, or to move house, courage and a padded suit was needed to get him in one. Those terrifying talons were put to good use at such times. Unhooking them from Hayley’s bare shoulder, blood dripping, comes to mind!
Being dutiful parents, we were in Dubai a while back, helping with a house move. As with all cats, Moo was under house arrest for the first two weeks, to settle him into his new home. But.... argghh... horror – he escaped! Now this was worrying on two counts. He was miles away from his old home, a seventh floor city apartment, where his only contact with the outside world had been a balcony. This new home was on a recent development, miles away from the city lights of Dubai, in erstwhile desert. In the early stages of construction, there was hardly a soul around, just unfinished houses with empty, dark interiors, unfinished roads, scorching sun and not an oasis in sight.
Naturally, Moo’s disappearance caused total panic. Search parties were organized amongst loyal friends. Posters printed and pinned on building boards (lamp posts were in short supply) and we all set off to search for missing Moo.
Now picture this: It’s pitch black; thin beams from mobile phones eerily illuminate cavernous interiors of half built houses, as groups of people search desperately for a cat, vigorously shaking packets of feline treats, shouting “moo.......mooo.....moo, moo....” on the edge of a desert. Let this be a lesson – always think very carefully before naming your pet! Alas, the escapee remained at large.
The posters brought an interesting adjunct to this episode. There were lots of construction workers on site, who responded to the posters and helpfully collected unfortunate cats of any kind, bringing them to the door. No matter if the poor creatures were black, white, tortoiseshell, marmalade or sky blue pink. Being immigrant workers, they spoke no English, only Bengali or Urdu, so it was tricky trying to explain that just any old cat would not do. I couldn’t help wondering if it was possible financial reward, or the wistful blonde that brought this motley stream of dhoti clad workers to the door. Either way, I was most concerned for the multiple kidnapped cats, and hoped they had better homing instincts than Moo.
After a week of this we had to give up, praying that Moo had found himself a new family. The alternative scenario was just too grim. We returned to England, leaving a sad, but resigned daughter ensconced in her new home.
Three months later, sitting watching TV, Hayley heard a faint “meow...meow”...outside the patio door. No, it couldn’t be..... but yes, it was.....as she slid back the door, there was Moo, filthy dirty and much thinner, but definitely Moo. He rushed inside weaving in and around her legs, ate a bowl of food and slept solidly for a week!
We will never know where Moo went or how he survived. Did he wander the desert, or find a family? Did he just decide to have an adventure or was he genuinely lost? How on earth did he find his way back to a home he’d never had a chance to truly know. But home he was, to everyone’s delight and amazement. Streetwise now, he went out terrorizing any interloper on his territory, often returning bloodied but triumphant – but he never again stayed away more than one night.
Moo lived another ten years and died just before last Christmas.