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
News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor