I promised you the story of Louisiana, brother to Mississippi, our cat who died last year, and easily the cat our family has owned for the shortest time.
These two cats, brother and sister, one black male (Lou) and the other a brindled female (Missi) were bought from the Cats' Protection League on June 5th 1999 (Megan was only 3, Haggis just 2 !). They were brought home and let go indoors, with the cat flap bolted shut. They did what new cats always do - fled upstairs and hid under the single bed in the spare room, scrambling up into the bed frame from underneith and hiding from the humans, the 2 dogs and the existing big ol' ginger tom cat, Kalamazoo.
No sooner were they in than a huge thunderstorm rattled through, crashing and banging; the poor little mites must have been terrified. The humans were cool with this and let them be, putting down food and water and waiting for them to calm down and emerge of their own accord. It can take a few days before curiosity gets to them and they come out and explore. In a couple of days the brindled girl did indeed start to sneak out and explore upstairs, but nothing was seen of the black one.
In one more day, the humans were getting concerned, as the brindled one (Missi) was now out regularly and still no-one had seen Lou. Dad lifted the bed up and found.... no cat. The house was searched, to no avail. The only way the cat could have escaped that night was out of the tiny bathroom upper window - a 10 foot drop to the concrete. Things were looking bad. The thunderstorm might have sent him fleeing but then he'd be wet and totally lost, not having had any kind of time to familiarise himself with his surroundings.
The humans were frantic - searching the local area, getting sheds and outbuildings opened, notifying the local vets and police, signs up in the paper-shop and tied to local lamp posts, neighbours helping etc. It was hopeless, and after a few days, the search was called off. Missi settled in and became house cat and companion to Kalamazoo, learned to cope with the dogs and learned all the local territory, fortunately showing no tendency to venture into the front garden or cross the busy road out front.
Lou became just a sad tale of "the other cat we got the same day". 18 months went by.
Then out of the blue we got a phone call from the local vet. Did we own a black cat with only half a tail? Brindled? No, definitely black. "A lady" has brought one in and we've scanned it for micro-chip and it's coming up with your name and address (which is something CPL do before they give you the cat).
To cut a long story short this lady who lives over the road and half a dozen houses further up(who Mum and Dad now know quite well) had taken in a stray about 18 months before, which had started begging food and seemed to have no home, and had eventually moved in. She had taken him off to the vets for something and had learned of his "other life". She was now very upset (in tears even) to think that we might think they'd stolen our cat and would want it back.
Dad went over to see the lady, and explained the story about the collection night thunderstorm and the short-lived cat. Obviously it was now plain what had happened, and only that neither cat dared cross the road, stopped the brother and sister meeting up and comparing notes! Dad, of course, "gave" the lady the black cat, explaining that we had never really owned it, and did not know it or feel it was missing in any way any more.
The lady was relieved and delighted (and, as I said, Mum, Dad and these two have now got to know each other a bit more), the papers signed, the database and microchip updated and everyone lived happily for ever after..... at least until both cats passed away in 2008, Missi of general collapse of hind end, Lou of kidney failure. Both had had good lives since rescue, in loving families, and a cat can't really ask for more than that, can it?
The moral, if there is one - a terrified cat in new surroundings in a thunderstorm, can escape through an upstairs, upper window and you will probably never see it again.