7:20 p.m. I'm lying in bed, nursing Soëlie and trying to get her to fall asleep; Julien is with us. The weather is quite warm, so we leave our door open for air as well as for our cats to come and go as they please. We don't hear the gate open, nor steps on the wooden stairs, but suddenly:
CL: Is anybody home?
J jumps out of bed and goes to the door; recognizing her, he says: Thank you for coming!*
CL: Oh, you shouldn't have worried. The cat is at my house.
J: That's good news. We were really worried something bad had happened to her. We put up lost posters this afternoon--
CL: Oh, you shouldn't have done that. He's been at my house the past few days. I started letting him sleep inside.
I go to the door, happy to hear N'djema is safe, looking around, expecting to see her on the stairs or landing. I say: So glad to hear you have our cat! We put up posters and asked all the neighbors...
CL looks at me, shocked: There was no need to worry. She (CL points at the nearest house, where the shutters are closed and have been since we got home) knew I had the cat at my house.
I: Well, it's the other lady across the street who was feeding the cats for us, and she told us N'djema disappeared Monday. That was five days ago.
CL: I was thinking that i need to ask you some questions. I need to know what his name is, how old he is, and how he lost his leg in case I have to take him to the veterinarian.
J and I exchange a startled look.
CL, oblivious, continues: If I adopt him, I'll definitely need to know those things.
Another startled look between us, and J says: Well, her name is N'djema.
CL: Oh, it's a female.
J: Yes, and we aren't sure of the age, but when we lived in Mayotte, we rescued her and the vet believed at the time she was 9 months old, which would make her about five. We had to amputate her leg because she had eaten off her foot to escape being tied up. We also spayed her and had the vet give her a microchip--
CL's shoulders sag: Oh, she has a microchip...
Apparently, she knew the cat was "ours" but was thinking that we hadn't bothered to tattoo her, so fair game?
CL: She sure likes it at my house. (she then begins to list all the things N'djema can do like get on the furniture, sleep inside, eat all the paté she wants--not good for any animal to get fat, but especially not one with only 3 legs--and she told us about N'djema likes to be with their dog and how she and her husband kiss both dog and cat before going to bed...in short, pretty much making us feel like we are the worst cat owners in the world.)
J: Well thank you for taking such good care of her. If you don't mind, I'll bring her home now....
CL mentions adopting again, but I say I need to put S to bed and J repeats that he should go and get the kitty now...
Tiboy was thrilled to see N'djema back home and insisted on PLAY, PLAY, PLAYING with her.
On a related note, I mentioned that Tiboy was traumatized, but I didn't mention how the other humans reacted. J wasn't unduly worried because he thought she had gone walkabout and would be back any day. I had a bad feeling since we lost Max and couldn't quite shake the fear that tragedy had befallen her. I was on the verge of tears most of the afternoon, which had a striking effect on Soëlie. She is usually such a smiley, flirty baby; strangers and her doctor are always commenting on that. But yesterday, she was so sad and serious. It wasn't until I made an effort to hide my fears over the kitty that she gave me some halfhearted smiles. It was a trial getting her to go to sleep last night...until CL came around. Once we had N'djema back at the house, I must have relaxed greatly because Soëlie was asleep soon after despite appearing to be wired for sound but a minute before.
* As I said in my last post, we asked someone to speak to her on our behalf.