Everyone at the farm, as well as dozens and dozens of people in Vauxhall as well as across social media, spent almost a full month worrying about Howard when we realised he’d gone missing…
Arriving at the farm in Summer 2014, at roughly 12 weeks old, he was a semi feral kitten, that had been born at the bottom of a garden, before being taken in, castrated, and vaccinated by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and then rehomed to Vauxhall City Farm.
For two years we couldn’t get anywhere near him. He hunted mice and rats, he clearly called the farm his home, but he did not want to spend time with people, and he definitely did not care for any of our fanciful notions of flea treating him, or trying to make him take a worming tablet that one time…
And then, almost over night, Howard decided that maybe people weren’t the enemy after all. He started coming into the volunteer den and sitting next to the table, watching the volunteers have lunch. He’d wander around the park, investigating picnics, and letting people stroke him as long as they fed him ham or cheese while they did so.
Over the next three years he became tamer by the day, until in December 2018 he sprained his backleg and had to stay at a staff member’s house for 6 weeks, on “bed rest”. When he returned at the beginning of 2019 we suspect he had already decided that being a house cat was a lot better than being a farm cat, trying to spend more and more of his time in the farm office, spending his time on the info desk where he could be fawned over by volunteers and visiting public, and roaming further than his usual strolls in the Pleasure Gardens.
Cut to March 2020. The streets of Vauxhall are as quiet as they have ever been. And one day, Howard didn’t come home.
We put up posters, we patrolled the neighbourhood, we rang local animal shelters as well as Lambeth council to find out if they had found a dead cat on the road, matching his description. Luckily they hadn’t! But a grim phone call non the less. And while we didn’t give up hope, the repeated sightings of ginger cats that always turned out to not be Howard did bring everyone’s spirits down.
And then one day we received an email from Mary, saying that someone had pointed out the “wanted” posters to her, and ‘didnt that picture match the ginger cat that visited her house 2-3 times a week?’
Howard had crossed Kennington Lane and was living his best life, Six Dinner Sid style!
Everyone was overjoyed to learn that he was alive, unhurt, and we couldn’t wait to collect him. However we had realised that Howard would not settle back into the farm-cat-life. He probably had half a dozen people that were feeding him on a regular basis all over the neighborhood – we reckon he’s put on 5 pounds while he was away! With lockdown continuing, and the roads staying quiet, nothing was to stop him from wandering off again. Even more daunting to think about, potentially nothing would stop him in future, when the roads start being busy again.
So in the end, Howard has been rehomed with a member of staff, after six years of fantastic service at the farm, keeping the rat population in control and the human population happy. Thank you Mary for getting him back to us safely! Thank you to everyone, who worried about him while he was gone.
We know Vauxhall will miss this gorgeous boy, but we hope everyone will understand our decision, and wish him the best of luck in his new home.