Pretty little grey Amber has come a long way from the terrified newcomer in June 2011 to the slightly more confident little shadow Claire wrote about in December 2012.
Amber’s still not exactly sociable, either with people or with cats. She will allow herself to be petted, and if you’re one of her favoured humans, she will wriggle in ecstasy when the scratches hit the right place. But mostly people are aware of Amber as she shoots past – “Gotta go! Things to do!” Mostly she divides her time between the double-wide and the gate at the far end of the back garden. There is often a little row of cats sitting there and looking out at the field, and the movements of small birds and perhaps mice – I call it cat TV. But Amber doesn’t watch in company – mostly she prefers to be alone, and if another cat comes along, she will vanish into the bushes.
Last year we noticed that Amber was disappearing for longer periods at a time, and then someone reported a small grey cat outside the Sanctuary. Because she was also seen in the double-wide, it took a while before we realized that she had found an escape route, and was going walkabout, returning for meals and sleeping. The Sanctuary is sited on farmland, and the area around is home to raccoons and coyotes, so we felt that this was a Bad Idea! Finally Amber was spotted doing an athletic bit of climbing to a minute gap in the fencing, and as soon as we knew she had returned and was safely inside, the hole was closed and the general perimeter was rechecked.
Amber’s general patterns didn’t change – you got the feeling she shrugged and said “Whatever…”. We’ve occasionally found evidence of places where raccoons have got in and feasted on kibble (washing their paws in the water-bowls), but there was no evidence it was anywhere Amber could access.
Then last weekend Debbie and I were sitting on the back courtyard benches by the tree, when a little grey blur darted up the tree, looked down and laughed at us, and then picked her way along a slender branch and on to the top of the adjacent pen.
She sauntered along the seam between the two pens, obviously fascinating the cats inside, and proceeded to the north-east corner, where she sat and contemplated the universe.
There was some anxiety. She’d obviously just eaten, so likely wouldn’t be easy to trap – but med-staff Mollie went to find one and set it out in the back field. Perhaps Amber saw the trap and changed her mind, because she sauntered her way back to the tree, and returned the way she’d escaped without any further persuasion – at which point our maintenance guy, Doug, got out his ladder and his tools and cut that branch off! It looks like that tree will need a bit more pruning – but we think that escape route is closed for now. She made several trips up the tree the following day, obviously hoping that her branch had magically appeared again, and finally gave up and sulked!
I wonder where she will make her next escape!