Re­united with can­dle magic

Spencer was saved by the power of prayer

Chat It's Fate - - Contents -

Marta Larkin, 38, Belfast O pen­ing my arms for cud­dles, I beamed as my big gin­ger tom­cat Spencer jumped onto the sofa. Soft as a brush, he loved to climb onto my lap and rest his white paws on my shoul­ders for snug­gles. Me and my part­ner, Mick Mcgrath, can’t have kids, so our six cats – Spencer, Fei­d­helm, Dar­cie, Fletcher, Aoife and Reilly – are our beloved fur-ba­bies. Noth­ing’s too good for them. Our Belfast home is full of scratch­ing posts and cat beds, our kitchen cup­boards stocked with Felix and Dreamies. Two-year-old Spencer was al­ways the most af­fec­tion­ate – he was the one curled up on our bed at night or purring con­tently on my knee in front of the telly.

Missing moggy

So when I ar­rived home from work on 17 Novem­ber 2017 and Spencer’s whiskery nose wasn’t wait­ing to greet me, in­stinct im­me­di­ately told me some­thing was wrong. ‘Don’t worry love, he’ll soon turn up,’ soothed Mick, al­though I could tell he was just as concerned. Ev­ery time we heard the cat flap we both looked up, ex­pect­ing to see a gin­ger-and­white face. By the end of the day we were get­ting re­ally wor­ried. Spencer just wasn’t one of those cats that goes wan­der­ing. ‘I’ll put an ap­peal out on Face­book,’ sug­gested Mick. Within hours we’d got a mes­sage from the owner of our lo­cal garage, say­ing Spencer was in his back yard. But when he went out to try and catch him, our crafty kitty gave him the slip, leav­ing his col­lar

Mick and I were be­side our­selves with worry

be­hind in the process.

‘Oh no,’ I wailed to Mick. ‘Now he’s lost and he doesn’t have his nametag on.’

Spencer was mi­crochipped, but I’d al­ways rea­soned a col­lar kept him even safer.

Gone for good

sign Days of Spencer. turned into Mick weeks and with I were no be­side our­selves, we spent hours ev­ery night trawl­ing the neigh­bour­hood, hand­ing out fliers to shop­keep­ers and past­ing posters to lamp­posts.

LOST CAT: Gin­ger and white with a tubby body. Please look ev­ery­where you think a fright­ened cat might hide or be trapped. We even of­fered a

cash re­ward. Mean­while Mick, a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist, bought paid-for ad­ver­tis­ing on Face­book and a ser­vice that con­tacted ev­ery vet within a 50-mile ra­dius. We had hun­dreds of fliers printed and took out ad­ver­tise­ments in the lo­cal new­pa­pers.

As Christ­mas ap­proached, the weather turned colder. By mid-de­cem­ber, it’d started to snow.

‘How’s he go­ing to sur­vive?’ I

wept to Mick. Our baby was some­where out there, lost and alone in the sleet and ice.

We con­tin­ued to trudge the streets with a torch, call­ing his name into the dark. But there was no fa­mil­iar meow in re­sponse.

In des­per­a­tion, we found a pet de­tec­tive. We paid him £350 to search for Spencer but he also came back empty-handed.

By this time, we reck­oned we’d spent over £1,000 try­ing to find our missing moggy.

Cold christ­mas

‘I don’t even want to put up the Christ­mas tree,’ I told Mick. How could we cel­e­brate?

Christ­mas Day came and went. We tried to be cheer­ful over our turkey din­ner but the house felt so empty with­out my lovely Spencer.

Then Mick came up with an idea.

‘I’ve or­dered two can­dles on­line,’ he ex­plained one evening. ‘One for St Fran­cis of As­sisi, the pa­tron saint of an­i­mals, and one to Saint An­thony of Padua, the pa­tron saint of lost causes.’

‘What the hell, let’s give this a go,’ I thought. Nei­ther of us was par­tic­u­larly re­li­gious but it was worth a try.

When they ar­rived, the can­dles had a pic­ture of each of the saints printed on the side, along with a spe­cial prayer.

On 4 Jan­uary, ex­actly seven weeks to the day that Spencer dis­ap­peared, we set the can­dles on our man­tel­piece.

Mick struck a match and I watched as they flick­ered to life.

We’d also found an­other spe­cial prayer ded­i­cated to bring­ing back lost pets.

Christ­mas mir­a­cle

Stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der, we stared into the flames and prayed to­gether: ‘Fa­ther, we ask you to find Spencer, our dear pet who is now lost…’

We left the can­dles burn­ing all day. Ev­ery time I walked past them, I sent up an­other wee prayer.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, I was still in bed when Mick pot­tered down­stairs to make a cup of cof­fee.

Min­utes later he was back, cradling a bun­dle in his arms.

‘What’s that?’ I mut­tered, switch­ing on the bed­side light and reach­ing for my glasses. Oh my... it was Spencer! ‘He came though the cat flap as

the ket­tle was boil­ing,’ ex­plained Mick.

‘He came home all by him­self?’ I gasped in sur­prise.

‘No, I think God brought him back to us,’ said Mick. ‘It was the power of that prayer.’

Spencer was painfully thin, our nor­mally chubby moggy had lost 2kg. And he was filthy, his lit­tle white paws cov­ered in dirt. But the vet checked him over and said he was fine, he just needed feed­ing.

‘That does it, he’s grounded,’ I laughed, lock­ing the cat flap.

That was al­most a year ago and he’s never dis­ap­peared since.

We spent over £1,000 and hired a pro­fes­sional pet de­tec­tive, but in the end all that was needed was the power of prayer.

It was a won­der­ful, be­lated Christ­mas mir­a­cle!

We lit two can­dles and said a spe­cial prayer

Fur-baby: My boy was missing for seven weeks

Fully re­cov­ered: Fright­en­ing or­deal

Pow­er­ful: Prayer

Sad Christ­mas: Missing Spencer

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