Column Ilja: Rinus

‘Rinus was lost. Where could our aged, demented cat be?’

Rinus, the cat, had disappeared. He wasn’t inside, not beneath the deck, not in the shed. Even the neighbours, whom he visits regularly, were clueless. He used to be a real outdoor cat, but now, at sixteen, he only goes for a stroll along the path in the back garden, takes a good look around, and then returns inside to lie down on the first warm cushion he can find. Rinus was named after Rinus from the VPRO series Poesjes. In it, four kittens are filmed while voice actors record their voices. In the series, Rinus is a brave, but not all too smart, kitten (in contrast to his brother Theo, who is sickly and fearful.).

Our Rinus may not be an adventurer, but he is certainly not afraid. He is too old for that. While our other, much younger cat is always hiding from the construction workers that are still working on the house, Rinus considers every human a potential warm lap to sleep on.

Rinus considers every human a potential warm lap to sleep on

Rinus was gone for almost two weeks. During the first few days, we kept telling each other that he was probably just holed up in one of the neighbours’ sheds, but after a while, we began to panic. Where could our aged, demented cat be? We posted photographs in the street with a sign reading: ‘missing: large laid-back black cat with a bandana for a collar’. And we checked the internet: animal protection services, Amivedi, lost and found and so forth.

One day, we saw Rinus’ picture on a website for lost pets. And sure enough, the red collar, the large, yellow eyes staring into space, it was our Rinus. Found on an industrial site on the other side of the bridge. He probably hopped into the construction van to end up on the edge of town, five kilometres further.

What an adventure for such an old cat. We felt guilty and sad that he may have been wandering around for days looking for his home, even though the animal protection services said he had a perfectly good time at the shelter, had slept well and was eager to cuddle. Meanwhile, he is fast asleep on a cushion in front of the heater, and there is no indication that our worries were justified. He looks satisfied in the way only cats can. But for now, we will keep him inside.

Ilja Bouwknegt is 24, a bachelor’s student of Forest and Nature Management, and an active member of the study association WSBV Sylvatica. She sometimes does bat research at night.

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