We called him SsDF -- Siamois sans domicile fixe. He turned up at our home 10 months ago, very bedraggled, very wary of humans and clearly in need of a lot of TLC. All our dogs and cats have been strays who either just turned up on our doorstep or had been rescued by the local animal protection society. On one occasion we took in a gorgeous pedigree Irish setter abandoned by a neighbour in a field on a diet of dried bread in mid winter. He had basically been left to die after a road accident had badly crushed one paw. The neighbour was puzzled that we would want to look after his dog. "It's just a dog," he said. Well yes, he was just a dog. But even a dog deserves proper care.
All this to explain that of course we fed this new cat, gave him somewhere to sleep in the dry and generally looked after him.
A quick visit to the local vet to consult the national cat database and there he was, not SsDF but Toto from the Ardeche. Last night his owner rang, hardly able to believe we'd found her cat after all this time. Over the moon doesn't describe it. "En une soirée , j'ai récupéré ma joie de vivre en même temps que l'espoir," she said.
He had run away last year while they were on holiday a good hour's drive from our home. They had done everything to find him, sticking up posters in nearby villages, posting on the web and even, his owner admitted, consulting a radiesthésiste (diviner) who told them he had been stolen but not where he was.
Today she and her husband drove the 160 km from Aubenas to fetch him. We shall miss him.