I'm at work this morning - of course, because that is where I am *every* weekday morning - and I receive a call from a private number on my mobile phone.
It's the headmistress of the primary school at the end of our street, and as she says in a serious tone "I think I have two of your cats ....", my heart pounds hard against my ribcage and I catch my breath as she goes on "...here in my office at the school" and I breathe an enormous sigh of relief as I realise that she is talking about two live cats and not two squashed ones.
She explains that some of the children saw Podae and the Fatpuss wandering up the laneway next to the school, and Fatpuss was doing his massive caterwaul - you've never heard a caterwaul until you've heard the Fat One doing it, it sends shivers down your spine. It sounds like he's starving to death, or being slowly cut up into a pile of tiny pieces, or something equally horrific.
In fact, this caterwaul usually means one of two things. It means either "Hello! I have missed you! And I'm hungry! Give me a pat!" or it means " I am hungry! And give me a pat!".
Usually Fathead does his caterwaul when he greets me on the street after I return home from work in the evenings. I can only guess that if he was doing the screech next to the school, he was in fact not distressed, but seeking attention. Silly Fathead!
And of course Podae would have been along for the ride, and he would have been all "Hello children! How are you? I'm Podae, I live up the street and this giant beast beside me is Fatpuss, he's my fat friend. We live in the house together with another puss, but he's not here today. Are you having a good morning? What's happening? Are you having fun? Can I play too?" etc etc. He is a very sociable creature, the Podder.
So the headmistress scoops them both up and gives me a call to explain they were worried the pusses might have wandered from a far distance, and they wanted to make sure they didn't get run over, and so she has secured them in her office and would we like to come and collect them?
I explain that we actually live in the street and she asks if perhaps we've moved in recently and that might be why the cats are upset? And sheepishly I tell her it's been nearly three years and in fact it's just the pusses' way of being friendly. Ooops.
I ring My One True Love and while he sighs heavily, knowing he'll miss an important meeting, he jumps into a cab and goes back to Northcote to retrieve our furry babies. Once home, he locks them inside for the day so that they don't repeat the performance.
On one hand I'm seriously relieved that the pusses are ok - because as a long-time cat owner I've been through the horror of car-related deaths - and on the other hand I'm a little cross at them for misbehaving. But on the third hand (I am turning into Ganesha now) I'm also just a tiny bit proud that they are nice cats and wanted to make new friends.
Most importantly, I'm very gratified to know that the headmistress is the sort of person who cares about little creatures - which I suppose is to be expected given that she looks after a school full of what are effectively baby animals - and I'm pleased that now, having made their acquaintance, if the pusses wander down there again the school administration will know what to expect.
Apparently as My One True Love was carrying the pusses out of the school (Podae over his shoulder and Fathead crammed into a carrying cage he's really too big for now), he was mobbed by the school population who all declared their undying love for Podae and the Fatpuss. It's nice to know they've got friends there now who'll look out for them.
God bless feline-friendly headmistresses and all the children they command.