It looks like I won't be getting the ransom, kidnap kitty may well officially be mine. Some time back I accidentally steal my neighbour's cat and she has been living with me ever since, quite happily. I have bumped in to the neighbour a few times and she has shown interest in the welfare of Panda cat, as I named her, but no real enthusiasm to get her back. My assumption, entirely unfounded, is that she wanted a cat but her partner didn't and having Panda cat move in with me resolved the situation.
I really didn't mind having Panda around. She didn't know how to use a cat-flap or scratching post to start with, but soon got the hang of both, and although she was a little wary of affection she has become quite cuddly. Panda didn't like her head being stroked and when she felt threatened she lashed out quickly and harshly, giving me quite a few scratches for my mistakes. But she has calmed down incredibly and is now acting much more cat-like in her affections, and when she tires of being stroked she no longer digs her claws in before running away but bats me lightly with her paws to say 'no' and we both carry on as normal.
I have my own cat, Kenickie, and have been concerned about his being comfortable more than welcoming the new cat in to the household. Panda shows some admiration for him, generally wanting to sit or sleep where he is. I considered the possibility that Panda is trying to exert some dominion over Kenickie, but as she tends to see where Kenickie likes to be and only goes there when he vacates the area I think Panda is being taught cat-like behaviour by example. And Kenickie is wonderfully tolerant and really doesn't seem to mind Panda's presence. They eat their food next to each other, sleep next to each other, and are happy to live together without any complaints. There are a few scraps, but it is never anything serious and generally seems playful. And it is awfully sweet to see both cats come out to greet me when I get home some nights.
Now I find out that my neighbours are moving out, one already gone and the other to follow. There have been no questions about Panda or requests to arrange a time to collect her, it's almost like she's been forgotten. To be generous, I think they are satisfied that she is happy where she is and quite settled in. Learning of the situation has had an odd effect on me, though. I have occasionally pondered what would happen with Panda if I moved out, thinking it to be awkward to simply assume she would come with me, but now it seems that I officially have a second cat. I feel so much more responsible now, but somewhat irrationally so, as I don't think I am now any more responsible for Panda than I have been so far.
I also wonder if Panda realises what has happened, if she ever visited her old home, and whether her current affection and propensity to cuddle up with me is a reflection of the disappearance of her previous owner or if it is my own realisation making me more sensitive to Panda's attentions. At least it is clearer now that Panda lives with me rather than just being a permanent lodger, if such a distinction can be made. And I like having two cats, particularly two adorable cats. It all seems to be working out.