When a garden shed was broken into, the Aberdeen owners were left scratching their heads about who – or what – was to blame.
The store’s door had been prised open and paint tins had been opened, with thick black paint thrown all over the floor.
There was, however, an important clue which gave the game away: tiny paw prints.
It turned out the damage was caused by a mischievous moggy named Bubba who had managed to sneak into the shed and cause quite a bit of havoc.
The cat’s owner, Sarah-Anne Meldrum, said: “Bubba was missing for three days and I was so worried about him – and we had no idea how he came to be covered in black paint when he came back.”
She added: “When the owner of the shed got in touch, it all became clear what had happened to him on his adventure – and explained how the damage was caused.”
According to Sarah-Anne, 46, of Coull Green, Kingswells, Bubba is popular in his neighbourhood and regularly gets attention from friendly faces while on his travels.
The eight-year-old is a creature of habit and comes home each night – but panic set in on December 12 when he failed to return home.
Sarah-Anne, who works in financial services and also runs a ‘jazzercise’ exercise class, said: “I was very worried. The next day, I put out lots of appeals for help on every social media page going.
“One of my neighbours had a Sky engineer out for repairs and I spent quite a while tracking him down so I could check the back of his van in case Bubba had hopped in, but he wasn’t there.
“I printed flyers and handed them out to lots of people – I even made some new friends at Kingswells Library while searching.”
As Christmas got nearer, there was no sign of the return of Sarah-Anne’s feline friend – until he strolled through the door on December 16 looking worse for wear.
Sarah-Anne said: “I felt so relieved and happy to have him back home – but I noticed he was covered in black paint.
“It became a problem when the paint started to dry. He was trying to lick it and I was worried that he might fall ill. He already has a serious heart condition.”
Sarah-Anne took Bubba to Town and Country Vets in Kingswells where he was sedated while the paint was removed and his nails were clipped.
“The vets were absolutely brilliant and did a great job.”
Since then, Bubba has been ‘feline’ fine. How Bubba came to be covered in paint remained a mystery until Sarah-Anne’s neighbour got in touch on Saturday, showing her pictures of paw prints all over his store cupboard.
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She added: “He is a painter who lives on the next street and told me he had seen one of my flyers about Bubba. He couldn’t quite believe how Bubba managed to open the door or get out again.
“He didn’t know what had caused all the mess. The paw prints were the only indication.
“He had quite an adventure!”