| 3.5°C Dublin

The mystery of the missing kitten


The Covatti family are cat enthusiasts: They already had three cats, when Willow arrived as a gift from a friend just a month ago. They were aware of the social tensions that happen when a new kitten arrives, so after making sure that the adult cats accepted Willow, they decided to leave the cats on their own with her in the main living room.

The idea was that the cats would be more likely to learn to interact with each other if humans weren't around.

After a couple of hours, it all sounded peaceful in the living room, so they went back into to see what was happening.

The adult cats were calm and relaxed, but to their horror, there was no sign of Willow.

They looked everywhere but there was neither sight nor sound of the kitten. She had completely vanished.

Then they noticed that somebody had left the window open in a side room that led off the living room. At this stage, they were frantically worried.

Their new kitten had escaped, and she didn't know the neighbourhood at all. She would panic and run and the outside world was full of hazards.

She was certain to be cold, wet and hungry, and she could be hit by a car, attacked by other animals or suffer some other dreadful fate.

It was a damp autumn Sunday afternoon and they set up search parties to check the entire area with friends. They combed the streets, knocking on doors, asking people in the neighbourhood if anyone had seen a kitten.

They contacted all the local vets with the kitten's details, including her microchip number and photographs. They also put posts up on "lost and found" websites and social networks.

They spend all day on Sunday trying to track down the missing kitten, but it was no use. She had completely vanished.


By the end of the day, the whole family was feeling sad and angry with themselves for not checking that all the windows had been closed. As night fell, they tried one last search outside on the streets, calling Willow's name.

As before, there was no response. She had gone. At this stage, they were all in tears, thinking about the poor lost kitten, cold, hungry and homeless.

Just as they were about to give up, Iano's father came rushing outside. Willow had reappeared in the living room, unharmed, calm and relaxed. She had been hiding in the room, all along.

There was an upright piano in the corner of the living room, with a small hole in its base that leads into a larger space. The kitten had crawled inside. She'd slept contentedly in peace while everyone else was panicking.

This tale of a kitten that had gone missing had a happy ending, but it's a useful reminder of the importance of taking special care to look after cats at this time of year.

Halloween is a dangerous time for animals, with fireworks and bonfires going on.

There's a peak of missing pets over Halloween, with many animals bolting in panic after getting a fright, and others being physically injured by thugs.

Take special care of your pets over Halloween. Make sure that your cats - and your dogs - are microchipped, and to be safe, don't let them out at night over the next few weeks.

And if you keep your pets shut inside, don't forget to check that all the windows are closed!

Owner: Iano Covatti from Bray

Animal: Willow, a 4-month-old female Norwegian Forest kitten

Problem: Willow went missing from the Covatti family home