Wednesday, 4 May 2011

i once was a crazy cat lady...

the lovely girl who handles my pr, louise,  has had her cat go missing. in trying to give her some hope he will turn up, i told her this story about when my cat went missing quite a few years ago. i thought i'd post it....

in my early 20's, when i was living in LA i had a couple of cats. first i had edie who was a gorgeous little gray tabby kitten i got from a litter owned by b-movie actress and former bride of russ meyer, edy williams. when edie (the cat) was about 1 1/2, i  wanted to get her some company, as myself and my 2 friends/roommates all worked a lot. i got a boy kitten, eli, from a pet shop. but from the minute i brought eli home, edie hated him. her entire nature changed.

one day after we had eli about a year, my roommate said in a slightly bemused tone, “i think eli is pregnant”! sure enough, “he” was. and "he" ended up having a couple litters of kittens before we had "him" fixed, which my roommates and i kept quite a lot of. at one point, we had 10 cats. i was basically, a couple of empty gin bottles rolling out from under the bed and a few strays away from being "crazy cat lady" ( there was one time when i drunkenly brought home 3 stray dogs i found crossing a busy street at 2 am in a single file line biggest to smallest, but that is a totally different story).

of both of eli's litters, although i loved all the kittens, my favorite kitten was marilyn. and when i moved to the uk, i decided to bring HIM with me.( i really had a knack for "sexing" the cats). i wanted to bring a bit of home with me. so, in spite of extortionate amounts of money and crazy quarantine laws, (6 mos he spent in there!) i brought marilyn to the uk. he was so much like a person and such a great cat i couldn't leave without him.

in conversations, when i told people i had brought marilyn with me from the states and how much it cost, they all assumed he was some sort of pure bred show cat, not just your run of the mill, garden variety alley cat. my ex, julian had never had pets growing up and after being around the kittens had become an instant cat person. he was, in fact, the one who suggested i bring marilyn to the uk and he very kindly paid for it.

after marilyn got out of quarantine, he had a good life. he got loads of attention as we both worked from home and were around a lot. he always a lap to sit on and purr. i guess as most pets are, he was a surrogate baby.  he wasn’t a “mouser” or hunter. he never went far. he was so reliable. his routines were like clockwork.

a few years after living in england, one evening i came home from a night out. it was about 1 am. the first thing i noticed was marilyn wasn't there. instantly i felt something was wrong. i waited up for him for a while then tried to go to sleep, but i just felt sick about it. julian was away in london recording an album and i called him in a panic and told him marilyn was missing. he freaked out too. he told the band in the middle of everything he had to go home because the cat was missing and just left the studio.

i called my good friend claire at about 4 am crying and sensing my distress, she came over at about 6.30 am. by 9.00am, after sitting outside the copy place for an hour waiting for it to open, the entire neighborhood was plastered with missing posters. julian knew a dj at the local radio station and called him up and he was nice enough to mention it on the radio for us. julian also called the bristol evening post and said, " i am offering a £500 reward for my missing cat, is that news worthy?" yeah.... they thought it was. so they interviewed me about it and there was a write up in the next days paper (this was my first experience with the media twisting your words because i DID sound like a crazy cat lady and they totally put words in my mouth).

also, at this time, one of my very best and oldest friends from LA, chris had been in spain and made a special trip to the uk to come see me.  i felt so bad because i couldn't think of ANYTHING other than the cat. i tried to hang out with him a bit, but i was a total emotional wreck. i think he was stupefied if not slightly worried at how depressed we were.

so, a few days went by, still no sign of him. the 2 of us were like a couple in mourning. we would walk the neighborhoods looking for him, calling out his name at all times of the day and night. the man who lived over the wall from us turned out to be a vicar after possibly after seeing the neighborhood smothered in "missing" posters, he came over to see me. i sat with him at the kitchen table, broken and emotional as he talked with me as though i was in bereavement over a family member. the whole world felt and looked gray.

we got a lot of phone calls from people from the posters. we would come home and the answering machine tape would be full of calls with people saying, "i think i saw your cat over in the such and such area". so we would run over there. Or they would say they saw him in places that were so, so far from where we lived, it was ridiculous. or  we’d get a lot of " hi, i don't know where your cat is, but a similar thing happened to me and my heart is with you etc...". a few more days went by. i think at this point it was nearly a couple of weeks he'd been gone. it was the not knowing that was killing us. so... i had what i thought was a BRILLIANT idea. we should go see a psychic.

i looked through the phone book for psychics. there were more than i thought there would be. i saw this BIG ad for a guy who had been featured in the "daily mail" newspaper and had been on "richard and judy" or something similar. i thought, "well, he’s got a huge ad…he's obviously successful...he's the one! he's bound to be good." i think it was like £40 or £50... so...not cheap. we made an appointment and went to see him. julian had the idea of bringing marilyn's favorite pillow with us.

so we get to his house. the psychic was like an older russell grant type. he led us into this  study and sat at a large antique wooden desk. he wore a monocle. there was a slightly musty smell in the air. he had one of those "phrenology" heads on the window sill with a paisley cravat around it's neck. On one wall, i noticed a couple of very yellowed, disintegrating newspaper clippings in frames. proof that he HAD actually been in the daily mail...back at some point in the 1960's or 70s. so...obviously not a lot of coverage since!

in our initial chat, we gave him a bit of background, where we lived etc... as we sat there talking to him, choking back the tears, he pulled out the oldest A-Z street guide i had ever seen. it was in black and white (rather than colour) or more like black and a similar shade of yellow to his newspaper clippings. i wasn't even sure our road was on it. then he gets out a pendulum and very intently holds it over the A-Z and watches it start to circle. 

in an almost ghostly, going into a trance-like voice he says, "i am getting the vibe he is in the landsdown road areaaaaaa." i thought," well, we just TOLD him we live there. No miracle there." He uttered a few more kind of non-informative, non-descript, vague ramblings. which we just didn't know what to make of. then my most memorable part of the whole experience happened. I turned to julian who by then was absolutely wailing. he started pulling frantically at these few bits of marilyn's fur left on the pillow, and in desperation begging/pleading, to the psychic he said, "can you get anything off THIS ?!?!?" something about his hysterical emotion snapped me slightly back into reality. i think i then totally saw the ridiculousness of the whole scene. through our desperation and depression we had hit a SERIOUS low! we left, feeling £50 lighter, our hearts, probably heavier.

a day or two later, we had pretty much given up hope of ever seeing marilyn again. We were trying our hardest to get on with our lives and went out to a gig. we got home about midnight. as we walked up to the door, we heard this faint "meow". we looked up on the fence and there he was! i was absolutely elated. i hugged him for hours. we think he must have got shut into someones garage or trapped somewhere where he couldn't get out. it's a total mystery.

a few years ago, he disappeared again and after a few days, it ended up that he was trapped under someone’s decking. he is still around today and nearly 20 years old.


  1. So sweet! It's so good he came back. Once I was up making breakfast when I heard a scuffling sound coming from the bin, I looked in my hamsters cage (right next to the bin,,, bad idea) and he wasn't there, so I opened the bin, and there he was inside a Pot Noodle pot. Still no idea how he got there. Similar problem with the gender issue though, he was called Sandy because I thought he was a girl! (luckily it applies to two genders!)

  2. OMG! I remember when that happened, but didn't know all the details. What a great story. Also didn't know Marilyn was still alive.

  3. Aww, I hope your friend's cat turns up. I have a similar story (don't all cat owners?). My old cat Cookie went missing for 2 weeks an we thought she was gone for good when she turned up at midnight one night, a little bag of bones. We assumed she was trapped too because cats can normally find some food, but she obviously hadn't eaten much. She had to stay with the vet for a few days but lived until old age.
    You are so funny Jakki, you definitely march to the beat of your own drum lol.