Our good old ginger tom cat Sam disappeared nearly two weeks ago.
The kids and I have looked everywhere for him, and we are fairly sure he wasn't hit by a car as we were fortunate enough not to see him dead on the side of the road.
We doubt he's locked up in a neighbour's garage either as we have asked around. Even if he was stuck inside somewhere, without water and food, he wouldn't have made it for this long in this heat anyway.
The best explanation is that he has gone away to find a place where he would be comfortable, so he could peacefully die.
He was a gentle giant, and he was getting old.
Even though we don't quite know exactly what age he was, when we picked him up from the Tauranga SPCA five years ago, they thought by looking at his teeth that he was around 8.
Thirteen is old for a cat, especially for one who loves roaming outside, and he had a fantastic life with us. He was well fed, well loved and well cared for but it was time to say goodbye.
Yesterday, I came across a story about economist Gareth Morgan, who has launched a campaign to eradicate domestic cats. He calls them sadists, and natural-born killers that destroy native wildlife.
Dr Morgan has set up a website called 'Cats to Go'. The first thing you see when you open the page is a Photoshopped image of a kitten with red eyes and devil's horns.
On the homepage, you'll see the words "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural-born killer".
The website says that in order for us to continue being a premium clean, green tourism destination, we need to start making steps in this direction. According to Dr Morgan, that starts by getting rid of domestic cats.
Dr Morgan has previously spoken out against cats. In a post on his blog in August last year, he said: "Sorry, at the risk of causing a Pussy Riot, that ball of fluff you have at home is as much a predator as stoats, rats and mice. It has to go."
He is not making many friends with these statements, but being verbal about any controversial topic will bring the haters out and I speak from experience.
The idea behind Dr Morgan's campaign is not to encourage people to knock their favourite furry friend on the head, but it suggests for people to think about the consequences on the bird population of domestic cats. It's asking people not to replace their pets when they die.
As soon as we posted the news of this campaign on our Facebook page, comments from Bay cat lovers came flying in. I had great fun reading them.
Did you know that almost half of Kiwi households have a cat (or two), which makes New Zealanders the world's biggest cat owners?
I have had cats all my life and really do love them, but I also don't think Dr Morgan's idea is complete rubbish.
Actually, it's not so much the native birds I worry about; it's the number of cats that roam the streets already. Just count how many stories we've read on the SPCA calling for help when they've had yet another influx of kittens.
There are too many cats out there and I agree with Dr Morgan that it's not just the strays that cause trouble.
The number of times I have gotten up in the night with a bucket of water to throw over a pack of little monsters that were howling at each other are just too many to count.
On rubbish day, our street looks like a war zone because the cats have been fighting over food scraps from the bags.
I will miss our Sam but I have no intention of replacing him. We have another cat in our household that we also love dearly but it's unlikely I will replace her either when her time has come.
Enough is enough.