Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Kidnapping of Mr Cheeky - the final chapter

It has taken me most of the day to process what has happened, but ultimately I wanted to say more than a few words on Facebook.

Today at 11.50am, as I was cleaning the windows in our flat, the telephone rang.

It was Emma from Wilbury Vets, Hove. A ginger cat had been brought in. It had been hit by a car round the corner in Cromwell Road, Hove.

Sadly it could not be saved. They scanned the cat and found a match with Mr Cheeky's details on the PetLog database, hence the phonecall. I asked if she was absolutely sure and she asked if he had any other distinguishing features so I mentioned the chipped upper right fang, She asked if he had had a collar and I said yes, he had a yellow collar on when he was kidnapped. Much to my astonishment he still had a 'gold coloured' collar on. She asked what I wanted to do as they could organise cremation if I wanted. I said could I pick him up after the weekend as I didn't think I was in a fit state to drive. She said she understood, They would put him in their cold room for the weekend until I was ready. She knew all about Mr Cheeky and sounded quite emotional herself.

So our baby was alive for 7 weeks and 6 days following his kidnap and was killed only today when he finally escaped (or was released). Clearly disorientated and with no idea where he was, he panicked and ran across a road, sadly to be unlucky. I wonder if his captors lived on Cromwell Road? It is also a mere 0.9 miles from our flat in Brunswick Street East. So near and yet so far!

I have been in bits all day thinking about it. He had such a tough start to life, abandoned as a young cat, barely out of kittenhood, living on the streets and rescued by Lost Cats Brighton (where we got him) and then only two and a half years of happy life with us before he was kidnapped by those utter slimeballs, for who knows what reason.

My last memory of Mr Cheeky was earlier on the night he was taken. I was sitting on the sofa in front of the TV and Mr Cheeky was lying on his back on my lap reaching up with his paws to try and brush my hair with his claws. It was one of his little things. He was fascinated by hair. But it was also a perfect moment which I will treasure always.

He was a tough and independent cat most of the time, (let's face it, he ran the neighbourhood in catly terms!) but just occasionally he would be as soft as a marshmallow and allow a big cuddle, usually when he was tired. Or if I let him sleep on our bed (big treat) he would start by sleeping nonchalantly at the bottom and gradually work his way up the bed through the night until he had wedged his head under my chin gently purring and bunting me with his nose until I was so hot I had to get up and relegate him back to the living room with his food and litter tray.

So farewell my brave soldier, the most fearless cat I ever knew. You wouldn't hesitate to look a dog straight in the eye or boof a canine nose which got too close. You even managed to cow an American bulldog two doors down and visit and walk around that flat as if you owned it. You had a paw in every door (little children loved you) and you followed us to the local pub too. You even tried to follow me up the street to get the bus to work and were a regular visitor striding up the aisles at the Sunday Assembly in Waterloo Street! You've paid a high price for being so independent, friendly and fearless, (or perhaps because of your resemblance to 'A Streetcat Named Bob'), but you could never have been an indoor cat. It just wasn't in your nature. I'm so glad you got a last taste of freedom, albeit tragically brief. God bless you my furbabe, until we meet again.

Thank you so much to all the Likers and Sharers and Messagers and well-wishers. You've been phenomenal. As have our dear neighbours. I only wish I had a happy ending - for all our sakes.

But if you are local and want to pay tribute to Mr Cheeky and help other lost cats in Brighton and Hove, there IS one final thing you can do.  I had been arranging a Mad Catter's Tea Party (dress code: Crazy Cat Lady or Eccentric) to raise funds for Lost Cats Brighton. (where we got Mr Cheeky). This will take place on Sunday 19th February (6pm-9pm) at Patisserie Valerie on Western Road, Hove. It is £25 a ticket - £12.50 for late afternoon tea with buffet and beverages (lots to suit vegetarians too), with the rest going to Lost Cats. Plus we have exclusive use of this gorgeous venue on two floors, so it would be amazing to get away from screens and mobiles for a bit and meet some of you lovely people in real life. Something to look forward to on this darkest of days. As you may know Lost Cats sadly lost their founder Ron Ayres last month and may shortly lose their rented premises, so it is vital they find new rented premises asap in order that their valuable work can continue (it is estimated Ron helped up to 200 cats a year in his 17-year post-retirement calling.Tickets here (even I as the organiser will be buying one!). It is a registered charity, so Lost Cats can also claim Gift Aid on anything we raise.

UPDATE 29/01/17: The lady who was alerted to Mr Cheeky's body in Cromwell St and who took him to Wilbury Road vets round the corner has been in touch with some further information and it looks as if our cat may have been being kept by someone in the street, very close by. Have just updated Police and asked them to investigate. It would be good to get a prosecution for pet theft if possible.

I leave you with a few of my favourite piccies of Mr Cheeky, some of them with his playmate Django, who has been doing his catly best to cheer up a weeping Mummy all day.

The male Marilyn of cats

You may rule the neighbourhood but I rule the cat flap! Mwah ha ha.

Mmmm we love fresh linen!

We also love Daddy...

Polishing cars with Django

Chilling in Bottom's Rest pub

I'm King of the bag!

You're not going anywhere Mummy and Daddy!

Chillin' after a hard day's catly duties

I saw this new fridge first ok?

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Kidnapping of Our Cat Mr Cheeky

It's been some time since I blogged, probably the longest time since I started this blog in 2007.

Aside from battling two bouts of the flu, back to back, nearly all my spare time has gone into the hunt for our beloved cat Mr Cheeky, who was kidnapped from our front courtyard in Brunswick Street East, Hove, by a young couple on the night of Sunday 4th December 2016 (caught on neighbour's CCTV).

We didn't immediately know that this is what had happened to Mr Cheeky as our neighbour opposite had been away for a few days and it was only when he was checking his footage (my partner Ollie had asked him to see if he could see in which direction our cat had gone), that he made the horrifying discovery that Mr Cheeky had not just wandered off, but had been deliberately taken. Quite a dramatic end to what had been my partner's birthday celebrations.

Naively we felt relieved that at least our fur babe had not been knocked down by a car, and now we knew what had happened, it must surely be only be a matter of hours or days until we got him back.

Nearly six weeks later (seven since the kidnapping), we seem no closer to finding him, despite all the publicity, the social media, the postering and flyering and offering a substantial reward.

Regrettably the CCTV footage was not quite good enough to identify the couple, although it was picked up by the Brighton Argus newspaper (click link to watch footage) and BBC/ITV regional news.

Mr Cheeky has left a huge hole in our lives and I worry that he may think we have forgotten about him or given up on him. I wish I could find a way of letting him know that we still love him and will never give up on him. Our other cat Django has been wandering around like a lost soul wondering what has happened to his leader and staring out the window forlornly, hardly venturing out. Their black cat pal down the road, Monster, also doesn't seem to know what to do with himself. Mr Cheeky ruled the neighbourhood. I am constantly stopped by small children in the street asking where Mr Cheeky is. He had a paw in every door it seems and visited most of the neighbourhood. For a short time, he was possibly one of the most famous missing cats ever - his story even appeared on The Sun online and The Mail online!

He had over 1000 shares on social media, particularly via a wonderful local facebook group called Brighton People. Mr Cheeky now has his own Facebook page called Find Mr Cheeky here.  Streetlife website have also been very good.

In fact we have been overwhelmed by the number of shares, likes and lovely messages, plus offers of practical help and tip-offs that we have followed up (sadly all other ginger cats, until now). We have truly seen the best side of social media and been reminded of all the good people in the world, at a time when we could easily have become fixated on the bad people in the world. We also have amazing neighbours, many of whom have put up posters in their windows and cars.

We have no idea why Mr Cheeky was taken, except that apparently there has been a spate of ginger cat thefts since the success of 'A Streetcat Named Bob' book and film.

One thing that I have particularly appreciated is all the stories people have shared with us about their pets miraculously reappearing weeks, months or even years later. Only this weekend, I met a young woman who used to volunteer at the RSPCA in London who told me that a cat was brought in because his elderly owner had died. They then scanned his chip and found to their great surprise he was a cat who had been reported missing more than 3 years before. Evidently the elderly lady had found him, assumed he was homeless and taken him in without making too many enquiries (or vet appointments). Needless to say his real owners were stunned and delighted in equal measure, having long since given up hope of ever seeing him again.

Fingers crossed it will be our turn for a miracle sooner rather than later.

Meantime the founder of Lost Cats Brighton (where we got Mr Cheeky two and a half years ago), Ron Ayres, sadly died a fortnight ago. Funds need to be raised for a new shelter to continue his legacy as the charity will soon lose their rented premises.

I am therefore throwing myself into organising a 'Mad Catters' Tea Party' to raise money, hopefully at the end of next month. Full details as soon as I have venue confirmation.