Stowaway Brora cat takes trip to Mey
Get a digital copy of the Courier and Groat delivered straight to your inbox every week
Bella the Brora cat had her owner make an unscheduled trip north on her trail after she sneaked into the back of a delivery van.
Retired Brora woman Sally Read was distraught when her beloved Bella, a Maine Coon cross, failed to answer calls and never turned up for her dinner one evening.
"We think she crept in to the back of a M&H delivery van around ten o' clock in the morning on September the third and was gone for 13 days," said Sally.
Sally said she didn't realise Bella had gone missing until she tried calling her in later that day for her evening meal. After a while she eventually realised Bella must have got in the back of the van when it was dropping off a parcel for her.
"M&H Carriers wouldn't give me any information about where the van went after it had been to my house. They said they were extremely busy due to being short-staffed because of Covid and didn't have time."
Sally said she felt she had no choice but to "pester them" to get some information about the route the van took but M&H Carriers told her it would breach its data protection standards if it divulged details of the journey.
"They eventually said that the first stop-off after ours was Dunbeath and then at the start of this week [Monday, September 14] they eventually gave me the postcodes and we set off on the Tuesday."
Before setting off, however, she posted messages on various Caithness Facebook groups with a photo and description of Bella.
The message read: "We believe she crept into a M&H delivery van and travelled to the Caithness area – Dunbeath, Latheron, Wick, Papigoe, JohnO’Groats, Mey, Castletown, Murkle, Thurso region on Thursday 03/09/20 from Brora. She is blue/grey was wearing a collar and is microchipped. Her sister is fretting."
Together with a friend, Sally then went on the long journey north to visit every place where the delivery van visited.
"We just went around knocking on doors everywhere we went," she said.
"I just said to people I'd lost my cat and if they'd seen her. We then posted a load of leaflets through doors. A lot of people were really nice and said they'd keep an eye out for her."
After asking around Scarfskerry, they travelled to Mey and asked at a house where they knew a delivery had been made.
"The gentleman who opened the door said that when the delivery van stopped he noticed something grey shoot out. Together with the two men from the vehicle they went looking around the bushes on the other side of the road but they couldn't see anything so just left it at that."
After some time asking around the village, Sally and her friend found a man who said he had recently sighted her in his garden shed but unfortunately there was no sign of Bella.
They were about to give up when suddenly they heard a familiar sound.
"Eventually, right beside the man's house they'd delivered to, I heard her answer me. She was in the garden next door."
Sally said that when she eventually caught sight of her beloved cat, Bella looked at her as if to say "you shouldn't be round here".
"It took quite a while to entice her out but I got her at the other side of the road and then got her into the carrier."
Sally said she was delighted with the responses from people in Caithness and laughed when a local wit suggested Bella must have been trying to visit Prince Charles at the Castle of Mey.
"People have been amazing and the comments were fantastic when we posted a message saying she'd been found."
Bella is now safely back home in Brora with Sally's other pets which include Saffy the cat, a jackadoodle and a Romanian rescue dog.