It could happen to anyone.
Your beloved cat disappears at the hands of a complete stranger after you entrust it to your local vet, and a desperate search reveals the existence of another a tortoise-shell coloured cat with a very similar name. The horror!
So, how do you tell Tara from Lara?
You could go back in time and demand that the stranger buys a black cat, and persuade them not to call it Lara.
Tara sounds like Lara.
Tara looks like Lara, when scribbled by even the most loving hand.
But we can’t go back in time.
If that were possible, we could train our beloved Tara to remain indoors. If so, our cute little kitty would not have escaped into the back garden and jumped the fence of the stranger’s home. She would not have survived on a diet of native Australian birds and animals which would enable her to remain at large for days, weeks, months or years.
For Tara can devour a species of native wildlife during her lifetime. She and her kin ensure that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world.
But, of course, we can’t go back in time, and this plan is far from foolproof. What if Lara isn’t house trained either and is free to roam day and night destroying wildlife? How would we ever tell them apart?
Instead, we must focus on getting Tara back safe and sound. Back into the loving arms of her distraught owners. For there is no more noble act in life than rescuing a pet.
How do we do this?
We could employ the intrepid investigative reporters at A Current Affair to scour the streets and conduct uncompromising interviews with everyone from concerned neighbours to the local barista. We could trust the same bastions of journalistic integrity to conduct a ruthless door stop at the veterinary clinic in a fearless attempt to uncover the truth, regardless of the risk to personal safety, and regardless of more pressing global issues vying for coverage. We have a cat to find.
We could lure Tara home with the familiar scent of a dressing gown, or we could import a truckload of native wildlife and let Tara chase and kill them all until she tires of this game and saunters home for cuddles and two square meals a day.
But even Multicare Stress Urinary Dry Cat Food won’t stop Tara from hunting the few remaining lorikeets and rosellas clinging to life in suburbia. And what if our local councils finally head the call of our precious wildlife, and impound Tara until a fine is paid?
Then just call her Lara.
First published in The Beast magazine, October 2022.
Image: Jae Park