It was late that afternoon, actually early evening,
when I drove into “my Motel”, as I liked to call it. It
was a small establishment run by an Italian couple who
were extroverts and very service minded. The rooms
were large, clean and the air conditioning was powerful
but without the usual noise I had to put up with in other
motels. After a long and hectic day I always looked
forward to turning my car into the driveway of my
favourite motel, which I considered my ‘second home’.
The sun was setting behind the town’s fruit orchards and
glowing deep crimson, the red soil was getting darker
and the cicadas supplied the music to this, now tranquil,
With the expectation of a restful evening, I had parked
my vehicle in the motel’s car park. Preparing to go to
reception, I suddenly had the sensation of not being
alone in my car! I glanced back at the interior of my
station wagon, typically filled with lots of samples and
catalogues, and immediately looked again: there was a
cat sitting in the back seat, staring at me! It was a large,
beautiful, tabby cat, her long luxurious fur well groomed
and she was wearing a red collar, studded with metal
‘tips’. What a shock! I said the most stupid thing that
came to my mind: ‘Where did you come from?’
No answer came from the cat, just a stare and a blink.
I could not imagine how that cat had entered my car nor
how long had she been there, but I could see that she was
well fed and obviously somebody’s darling. There was
no doubt that I had to find the owner the next day by
driving back to all the places I had been!
As tired as I was by then, I had to drive to the nearest
supermarket and buy cat food, kitty litter and milk and
search for a cardboard box for a toilet - the works!
I laid out everything in my roomy station wagon as
animals were not allowed in motel rooms. I spread out
the blanket that I always had with me and my cushion,
which normally supported my back whilst driving, all
the time calmly observed by the cat. When I had finished
preparing the cat’s toilet, she reached into the box,
scooped up a paw-full and let the fine grain run through
her claws and seemed to be satisfied with my set-up.
Wishing her a ‘Good Night!’ I gently closed the car door,
leaving a window open slightly for fresh air.
The following day saw me calling on everybody I had
seen the previous day, only this time with a cat under my
arm. But everywhere I went, people waved a ‘No’, and
suddenly some seemed less friendly then the day before.
In fact, they made me feel as if I were peddling cats!
Country town after country town, shop after shop,
architects, government departments, hospitals - I
re-visited them all with the cat. Finally, it turned out to
belong to the very first shop I had called on! The owners
of the cat were - yes - Frank Cleary and his wife Sue. At
first, Frank Cleary looked surprised to see me again so
soon. But his face was long and serious. When he saw
the cat he transformed into the happiest person in the
world. It was his cat and since he and his wife had no
children, the cat obviously was a much-loved member of
Whilst I had been showing him new samples, running
back to my car several times and taking things out and
into the shop, the door must have been left open when
‘it’ happened. The cat had obviously jumped inside and
spent the whole day sleeping in the back seat behind me!
Only at the end of my day did it awake and start to stare
holes into my back.
Mrs Cleary was phoned and told the good news and
she arrived at the shop within a few minutes. When
they discovered that their cat was not hungry and they
realised how well I had looked after her, they could not
thank me enough for the trouble I had taken.
Despite having lost a whole working day, which I had
to make up somehow, I left feeling on top of the world.
If I could only I could have delivered lost cats to their
loving owners on a full-time basis - it would have been
my paradise on earth!