I went round on foot again, looking for Joanie, and this time, Cow and Bunny followed me. About four houses down, Cow was there in the drain, and seemed to be telling me something, so I quickly got down into the drain and looked. There, about 4m away was a cat, and it was tabby.
I know there are at least two more tabbies on the road (they are Tiger's friends) so I wasn't sure if it was Joanie. I called her name, and the cat looked in my direction. She was inside the drain, but under the driveway of a house, so it was too dark for me to know for sure if it was Joanie.
I called several times, and she looked in my direction. When I approached her, she would move further away.
As I was alone, there was nothing much I could do except to wait, and I used my handphone to call my daughter to come and help. Perhaps we could block off the drain on both ends and "corner" her until she comes out.
My daughter was still asleep and did not hear the phone.
I must have stayed in the drain for 15-20 minutes. The cat looked at me and did not budge.
Finally, I decided to quickly run home and get my daughter.
We got a can of mackerel and got into both ends of the drain. The cat was still there. My daughter shone a torchlight at her, but still, we could not be sure if it was Joanie.
Knowing a cat has tremendous patience, I decided to crawl into the drain and get her while my daughter would block off the other end.
The drain was incredibly slimy and very narrow, and I could barely get in. I was on my hands and knees and there was rough concrete debris, animal faeces and "other things".
I must have crawled about 4 m into the drain when I encountered pieces of wood supporting the pavement above from collapsing. These pieces of wood hampered me as it made the space half the size now, and I could barely get through.
I had to use my hands to clear off the cobwebs, but I was very near the cat now. I saw that familiar marking on the head. It IS Joanie!! And I saw the white paws too (on the hind leg). I was quite sure it was Joanie and was so excited.
Just then, she made a dash through the pieces of wood, and zoomed past me. Before I knew it (it isn't easy to move about inside the drain), she had whizzed past me and run off.
We tracked her for awhile after that, still inside the drain, and by the time I got out of that slimy drain, Joanie was no where to be seen again.
My daughter carried Suki down the road with the hope that Suki's scent or mewing might attract Joanie out and make her come home, but there was no sign of her still.
If a cat wants to come home, she will.
If she doesn't, there is no way any human can force her to.
My hands and knees are lacerated (from the concrete debris), and I have just taken a bath.
It is raining now, though not very heavy.
Joanie, if that was you, I really hope you know what you are doing.
Perhaps Joanie prefers the feral life, living in the drains where she feels more comfortable.
Sometimes we think sleeping on a soft blanket and being served mackerel and Hill's Science AD is a grand luxury. For us, maybe, but not for the cat.
They know what they want.
I hope that cat was Joanie. At least I know she is safe and independent.
It really looked like Joanie, though. I saw the familiar unique marking on her head and the white paw, and she did look each time I called her name.
The rain is getting heavier now.
Joanie, where are you?