Life in the Loire 28th February 2021. Cat-tastrophe!

High drama in Vallée de Vauvelle on Tuesday afternoon.

Returning from pruning Nigel was met by a group of neighbours all anxious to know if he’d seen Pesto. As he stood by our gate the look of anxiety on their faces was clear.

“Have you seen Pesto?” they asked.

Not the best thing to hear. “No” replied Nigel, “but she’s definitely out not in”.

A slight surge of panic and then – immediate relief as he opens the gate to see both Pesto, and Bigi (the little black cat from the house opposite that seems to rather like our garden).

Phew! Pesto’s ok but clearly something is going on.

The little girls that live two doors down had been playing in the caves next door to our house and heard miaowing coming from a well. Yes, ding dong dell, Pussy’s in the well. Not good news. The well is 80 feet deep.

The Pompiers were called out to the rescue and little by little, everyone with a cat in the immediate neighbourhood began to appear.

“Have you seen Monza?”

“Yes he’s ok”

“Have you seen Mascara?” (Monza’s brother)

“Yes, he’s around”

So Bigi and Pesto, Monza and Mascara are all accounted for. That leaves Ernest, the little cat we call Tigger. “Have you seen Ernest?” someone asks our neighbour opposite.

“No, and I think I recognise his miaow. I think it’s Ernest”.

And so we wait. It seems to take an age as the Pompiers attach a series of ropes to an old press just in front of the well and down one of them goes with a lamp on his head and a bag to retrieve the cat.

The rest of us wait patiently at the top, imagining the worst but hoping for the best. We make polite conversation but know we’re all thinking the same thing. Is he ok? Has he injured himself?

“I”ve found him” says the Pompier. “Hang on a minute, there are two cats down here!”. Two cats down the well. They must have been fighting.

Up comes the bag with the first cat inside. One of the Pompiers carefully takes the bag and places it gently on the ground. He unzips the bag slowly as everyone holds their breath.

Out pops Ernest like a jack in a box. He darts off under the Pompiers’ van as if nothing has happened. All four legs intact, he has just a small scratch on his head. Our neighbour gathers him up for a cuddle. One up and one to go.

Back down goes the Pompier. We hear a bit of miaowing. This one seems to be a bit tougher to retrieve.

Up he comes again with the bag. Everyone looks from one to the other. Whose cat is it? Everyone that has a cat is present and all our cats are accounted for.

Slowly the Pompier unzips the bag and out he jumps like a coiled spring. Does anyone recognise him? We do. It’s Bigi’s Dad. He’s semi wild and runs off straight into the back of the caves where we can’t get him.

Smiles all round. Grateful thanks to the Pompiers for coming to the rescue so quickly as they gather up their ropes and equipment and go about their day.

All’s well that ends well (if you pardon the pun). It’s hard to believe that two cats could fall 80 feet and both of them come out of it with barely a scratch.

Drama over. Talk about nine lives. I think they both lost one of them that afternoon.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the well is now safely closed off. It was in an area that belonged to everyone but noone.