Epic pet journeys: Ford took the long way home

Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
LOST AND FOUND: Jenny's cat Ford.

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It's nearly twenty years since my daughter bought a tabby kitten from a Lower Hutt pet shop. She named him Ford - after Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Ford quickly made himself at home at Pukerua Bay. But then Jenny moved a few kilometres away to a flat in the country district of Pauatahanui. She shut Ford inside with a bowl of cat food and a litter tray and warned her new flatmate not to let him out.

Alas, the flatmate opened an outside door and Ford got out.

Jenny went around the neighbourhood calling his name to no avail. She wrote lost cat notices for public noticeboards, lamp posts and shop windows. No sign of Ford.

Several months went by. Eventually Jenny had to admit that he probably wasn't coming back. And she missed having a cat around. She rang the Cats' Protection League at Pukerua Bay and arranged to drive up there and inspect the cats and kittens looking for new homes.

The night before she was going to choose a new pet, she had a phone call. It was a Pukerua Bay friend who lived just across the road from Jenny's previous home.

"A rather skinny tabby cat has just turned up," he said. "And I think it's Ford!"

Yes, it was definitely Ford, bedraggled but happy to see her. In Pauatahanui again, he was shut inside for several days. Plenty of good food and lots of loving attention soon saw him back to his usual self.

I was impressed with Ford's cleverness at finding his way back to his old Pukerua Bay home. Jenny tended to disagree, pointing out that although he did get there, it really wasn't very far and he'd taken several months, so what was he doing all that time?

Ford moved house a few times after that, living with Jenny in Pukerua Bay once more, as well as Auckland and various parts of Wellington. He was still with her when she married and became a mother.

He remained a wanderer but after that epic journey between Pauatahanui and Pukerua Bay he always found his way home. Once, when still in Pukerua Bay, he went missing for two or three days, eventually turning up with a badly mangled paw. We never knew what had happened. There was a farm next door, so maybe a horse stood on his foot or he got caught in a gin trap. After surgery at the vet clinic he learned to adopt a pathetic limp when it suited him.

Ford died two years ago at the age of 17.

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