Our Hecuba, when I was about ten, went missing very thoroughly, and we all went out to look for her for days and days and days, calling and searching, and eventually after about a week gave up and thought she was gone forever, thanking our stars that we still had her daughter Cassandra and were not catless; almost two weeks later she came home, dragging herself by her forepaws and in a terrible state. We put her carefully in a cardboard box so she stayed flat (she cried horribly when she was moved at all) and took her to the vet, or rather my mother did, and her account was “He said, She has broken her pelvis, and I thought, Oh dear, poor Mrs Purr, she is going to have to be destroyed, but then he said, But she’ll be fine once I have set it, all you have to do is keep her immobile for six weeks.”
She was fine, too, except that she could no longer jump, and her hunting days were over. It was a terrible blow to her: she was a famous mouser, bringing one or sometimes several mice to the back doorstep every night for my mother to find in the morning – or sometimes, if she got hungry, just the teeth, which was a considerable surprise the first time because we couldn’t make out what they were.
A few weeks after her recovery I was looking out of the window on the stairs, which had a view straight down between the rows of raspberry canes to the Jerusalem artichokes, where there were always mice, and saw Hecuba in careful negotiation with Cassandra over a mouse which Cassy had just caught; then Hecuba picked it up and carried it proudly to my mother where she was forking over the vegetable patch ready for some peas to be planted, and presented it and got all the praise which had always been her due. Then she took it away back to Cassy, who ate it.
After that she sometimes brought a mouse, always very publicly, and was always praised, and I don’t think she ever worked out that we knew exactly what was going on. But she also brought bits of bread she had caught under next-door’s bird table, and those really were her own catch.