His master’s voice is the only solace that provides succour

Marikumar is distraught. For the past 12 days Blacky, his three-year-old tom cat, has been trapped in his neighbour’s house and is unable to find his way out. Food is being dropped to him to help him survive. Unfortunately, the neighbour is away and the house is under lock and key.

Blacky, a sleek black feline rescued from a drain off the Koodal Azhagar Temple as a kitten, is one of many cats reared by K.P. Marikumar of Thamarai Malar Street at Mahatma Gandhi Nagar here. Blacky strayed into the neighbour’s backyard and slipped through the gaps of an iron grille on the terrace.

"Blacky is basically a coward. Unlike other cats which easily jump, leap and bounce, he hesitates a lot before venturing into any such adventure. He has fallen into the neighbouring house by accident and is now suffering without knowing how to come out," despairs Marikumar.

Ever since the cat got trapped in the one-storey house, Marikumar and his sister K. Viji have been feeding it by dropping food packets through the iron grille.

The cat is trapped around 10 feet below the terrace and cannot be accessed easily. "Even if someone manages to go near the grille, it is impossible to get Blacky out without his cooperation. He is scared of strangers and shies back into the house," Viji explains.

This is not the first time that Blacky has found himself in this predicament. It happened a month ago. Marikumar says it took him three days to trace the cat then. On the third day, the pet responded to his master’s voice and mewed back.

Desperate, Marikumar tried phoning his neighbour."I sent a detailed SMS explaining the plight of my cat and requested him to make arrangements to have the house opened.”

But the neighbour kept his phone turned off.

After 10 days, the cat was freed by the neighbour’s housekeeper. “On that day, I realised the real meaning of gratitude as Blacky refused to leave my arms and continued to mew throughout the day as if to say ‘thank you very much my dear master.’ That incident taught me that we can be moved even by a mew," Marikumar says philosophically.

But the difficulty this time around is that Marikumar has lost his neighbour’s phone number. No one in the neighbourhood is ready to give it to him. The general impression is that he’s an unemployed crank obsessed with cats.

Meanwhile, Marikumar and his sister continue to drop food to the stranded cat. But on Friday a polythene bag of curd rice got entangled on a rod in the grille. Luckily, Marikumar spotted a stick on the terrace and used it to push the bag down to the cat. Blacky responded with that familiar look of gratitude.

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