Panther, our magnificent black male cat, who’d been with us for over seven years, has been missing since last Thursday night. He never turned up for his morning feed on Friday and hasn’t been seen since.

I held out vain hopes that he might just have gone for “a bit of a wander”. He’s done this before, as explained here. So over the last few days, I’ve been half-expecting him to show up at the back door or the study window, yowling and demanding entry and sustenance. But he never showed.

This morning, I decided that it would be best to draw a line under the prolonged absence and to accept that Panther is permanently missing. It was with a heavy heart and a moist eye that I took Panther’s basket, blanket and bowls and put them in the garage. Maybe he’ll come back to reclaim them. But most probably not.

Suffice it to say that Panther and I bonded over the years. Not in a way that might cause one to be locked up or anything, but we were the only two blokes in a house otherwise full of women. We guys had to stick together in the face of almost insurmountable adversity…;-).

I could write a book about Panther and all his adventures, but there does seem to be something a little “unseemly” about a middle-aged man eulogising a cat, so I’ll just keep my memories to myself.

I have a load of pictures of Panther taken over the years. I’ll probably put them up on Facebook at some stage, but not right now. It’s all bit distressing.

Panther, in himself, is irreplaceable. At some point in the future, maybe in the Spring, I’ll see if I can find another black cat to take his place, although there is something to be said for the freedom that not owning a pet offers. Not to mention the cost savings. We’ll see – it’s far too early to make a decision on this.

If there is a cat heaven, Panther is definitely there…