Carl Dickens
Footscray, Melbourne, 2015

 Trouble arose one evening when our dear resident three-year-old Norwegian Forest cat failed to come indoors for dinner when summoned at dusk. His owner, Annika, voiced her concern, saying Wolfie was never one to miss a meal.

Indeed, from what I’d seen, he’d always come bounding in from a day’s play outside when called, eyes wide and tail swishing like a dog’s.

He knew what time it was, so he’d nuzzle his owner’s legs and meow cheerily for his dinner, which he’d promptly scoff.

Once locked inside for the night, he’d then pick a bed or a lap (Annika’s or mine) to purr and snooze on, no doubt dreaming of the next day’s neighbourhood fence-hopping, roof-stalking and (unsuccessful) pigeon-chasing.

But this night, only silence…

A couple nights of howling wind and rain passed, and still there was no sign of Wolfgang.

We continued to holler for him morning and night, to leave food in his bowl by the door and to listen for the usual telltale jingle of his collar bell, but we only ever heard it in our minds…

Five days on and the mood at  Elphinstone Street was sombre. Annika sulked in her room; she figured someone had run Wolfgang over in the street and just chucked him in a bin. She blared Elvis Presley songs from her stereo and told of how she and Wolfgang used to sit outside together and listen to The King. You Were Always On My Mind was just the song for the miserable moment.

Suddenly, just before dusk Annika knocked on my door, asking, “Have you got good eyesight?… I think I can hear a cat up a tree across the road!”

I followed her across the street to where we could hear a low, miserable gurgling yowl repeating every few seconds. It sure as hell didn’t sound like Wolfgang; it didn’t sound like any cat at all.

As I looked up though, a few metres up the tree, sure enough there he was, emaciated, terrified and hopelessly stuck.

He kept meowing at us as we called to reassure him. Within the hour, thanks to a daring neighbour and their ladder, we lured Wolfie halfway down a branch with some food and plucked him to safety. Hugs and high-fives all around.

Traumatised by his ordeal, Wolfgang had to go to the vet and have an operation to clear a urinary blockage. He also wasn’t allowed out of the house for a week.

It hasn’t stopped him from prowling the neighbour’s rooves, but I haven’t seen him try to scale any more trees since.

How embarrassing. A “forest cat” that couldn’t find his way out of a suburban tree.

© Carl Dickens. Carl is a 27-year-old freelance writer who has reported for News Limited and the Australian Associated Press. He currently lives in Geelong where he enjoys playing violin, singing, swimming, volunteering and chatting with animals.