Disaster has struck.
I was upstairs, peacefully wrapping presents, and when I came down, there was no sign of James. He hadn't gone near the sitting room door before. Could he have left the room?
Yes, he could.
Could he have gone into the kitchen and found the only gap in the plinths (kick-plates) and crept under or behind the cabinets for the sink, the dishwasher, and several cupboards?
Yes, he could.
How did I know this so quickly? Were the two whiskery bouncers standing guard over the tiny gap a dead giveaway?
Yes, they were.
As were the occasional growls from Millie whenever she put her head into the gap. This hole has been a favourite for all the cats, especially after they came rushing in from outdoors, cat flap swinging wildly behind them, as though they were fleeing mortal danger - through the back kitchen, into the dining kitchen, taking a huge swerve into entry position for accurate hurtling through small gap, then silence, in there amongst the pipes and hoses. Heaven knows what they did once inside the space. As the kitchen was constructed without insulating the walls first, it's perishing cold down there, with the air brick adding to the arctic ambience.
So I wrenched the plinth away from its moorings, a difficult manoeuvre, as it's the longest single piece in the kitchen, and a tight fit. In the furthest corner sat a small scared looking little James, as well as a long-lost bright orange nylon mouse covered in fluff and cobwebs. A thin potholer might fit in there to retrieve James; there's no way I was going to even try. And then James shifted position to behind the drawers, well out of sight.
So I've left them all to it, Scooter and Millie rather over-excitedly on patrol, and I've come back upstairs trying not to worry too much, thinking that even a scared cat won't let itself starve or freeze to death under the sink, and pretending I haven't seen another hole, well out of reach, that may or may not lead into the crawl space beneath the entire ground floor of the house....
I thought I was doing so well with that boy, cage-free in no time at all. Pride cometh before a fall.