As springtime progressed and the hours of daylight lengthened, Pushkin was ever more in evidence. She seemed to be waiting for her breakfast each morning and then happily came out into the yard whilst I did the morning routine of goose feeding and pony mucking out. She would potter about next to the wheelbarrow, pretty cool with the very noisy and rather spiky geese.
When the clocks changed at the end of March and the days began getting longer even more rapidly, very often there was no sign of her in the early evening. But, she was touching base overnight as her food plates were clean each morning. And then, with lighter mornings, she obviously couldn't be bothered to wait for me to appear with breakfast and was off and away across the fell as soon as the sun came up. This went on for a good few weeks and I saw her less and less. In early May I went on holiday.
There had been no sign of Pushkin for a whole week - she was not even returning for a bite to eat. (I had devised a method of putting out crunchy munchies in a pattern, so that I would know whether any had gone. Bit sad and obsessive, but short of CCTV it seemed the best way to keep tabs on her!) I designed her plate with dried cat food, made sure there was plenty of fresh water and asked my neighbour to keep an eye out, just in case. I wasn't too concerned as I knew there were hundreds of baby rabbits about and the usual toothsome little mice. Fat Ginge brought in evidence with monotonous regularity, leaving glistening bits of gizzard on the hall floor as an early morning gift. Thank heaven for slippers…
Of course, I’d picked the wettest week to go away. It poured and poured. Thankfully, it was pouring at home too. There is nothing worse than being away in the rain knowing that the sun is shining at home. Anyway, it wasn't. It was doing stair rod rain and everything had turned to sog again. But, there was a plus side. Two days into my holiday I received a message from my vigilant neighbour telling me that Pushkin had returned and was being über friendly. In fact, she was ‘craving human company’. Well, if that was the case, it is a bit difficult to keep something company that chooses to live over the other side of the valley. I suspected it was more to do with the rain, but it was good to know she was about and topped up on cat food and looking pretty good.
By the time I got home, the sun was shining and Pushkin had returned to the wild. Apparently, this is not at all unusual for rural cats. Many of them leave home for weeks in the summer – in fact, I have had cats that have gone off for at least six weeks during baby rabbit time.
Since then there have been a few sightings and some evidence of corpses down beside the tree line. I still leave crunchy munchies in the barn and of course, Pushkin’s baskets are all ready for her return. I really hope she does choose to come back but meanwhile I am pretty confident that she is OK - living wild, as she obviously wants to, but with the option of a cosy barn when the going gets tough.
I'll keep you posted!