When the cat’s away: new system allow owners to track their errant moggies' movements

A new way of tracking the movements of elusive felines is launched – much to the relief of Tom Cox

Is there a more heartbreaking sight to be regularly seen on a suburban street than a lost-cat poster? You get lost-dog posters, too, but they’re nowhere near as common. Right now, if you live in suburbia, there’s a good chance there will be a lost-cat poster within four or five roads of your house, and, unless you’re made of steel, it will be accompanied by the inevitable, aching questions.

Was the cat run over? Did someone steal it? Perhaps it’s locked in a garage? How do the cat’s humans feel right now? Every time I pass one of these posters, it’s all I can do not to abandon whatever I’m doing and round up an ad hoc search party.

I have four cats and I’m lucky: these days, none of them often strays far from home and, on the rare occasions they do, they always send me a text to let me know what time they’ll be back. However, the most mercurial of them, The Bear, who is now heading towards his 18th birthday, was responsible for several disappearing acts in his youth. He once vanished for six weeks, returning smelling of death and cabbage and looking like a malnourished stoat.

The Bear, who is better known to many Twitter users as @MYSADCAT, has deep, soulful eyes, which seem to hold all the world’s sadness. He has a way of looking at me like he knows stuff, big stuff, and I often wonder if much of his wisdom was picked up on these excursions. I’m tempted to speculate that during his six weeks away he went on an Orwellian trip, seeing a brutal side of life in soup kitchens and dosshouses, and realising he had it pretty good with me after all.

When Caroline Paul’s cat Tibia  returned, looking remarkably plush and well-fed after going missing for a similar amount of time a few years ago, she decided – with the benefit of new cat-GPS technology – to find out exactly what he had been up to. I won’t spoil the story, as she’s written about it in a beautifully quirky new book called Lost Cat, but her findings about what Tibia got up to when not under her supervision turned out to be very surprising.

I’ve recently been on the opposite side of Caroline’s scenario, being regularly visited by a ginger cat. My assumption, from the condition of this cat, which my girlfriend and I named Graham, was that he was feral. We managed to trap him inside, then take him to the vet’s to be castrated and tested for cat Aids. After a further, fruitless attempt to befriend him, he escaped, and hasn’t been seen since. I’m pretty sure Graham was feral, but I have no proof. What if a family are now wondering a) where their ginger cat went for several months, and b) why he no longer has testicles? I now have  microchip catflaps to keep feral cats out; these are better than magnetic catflaps, which I was told by my aunt and uncle not to get because “our cats kept getting  stuck to the fridge”.

Monday has been designated the first “Catwatch Day”: an attempt, set up by SureFlap, the company that made my catflaps, and the Royal Veterinary College, to get owners to track their cats and report their findings. I plan to join in with this (see sureflap.co.uk/cat-care if you want to do so), but I’ll have to be crafty. I’m convinced that while I am out, my cats hold all sorts of wild parties,  invite their friends over, and hide my socks, but they’re very sly, and I have my doubts about whether I’ll catch them out. We tell ourselves our cats are little furry people, and that we know them, but that’s perhaps complacency. The truth is, we can probably never really know them, just as, in a way, we can never really know each other.

Tom Cox is the author of the cat  books ‘Under the Paw’ and ‘Talk to  the Tail’ (Simon & Schuster). Follow his cat, The Bear, on Twitter: twitter.com/MYSADCAT.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power