Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Find Your Lost Cat: Don't Despair

Last Monday our often evil cat Henry went missing.  I have since revised my statement about him being evil since I was devastated by the loss, depressed  much of the week, and was certain of his imminent demise.

You see, Henry is 100% an indoor cat.  He is also 100% scared of EVERYTHING.  When people come over to our house he hides the ENTIRE time.  He likes to go in the backyard but never leaves the patio because he’s scared of grass.  He also doesn’t really like to be out there if Cooper and I aren’t out there too.  He’s even kind of scared of JMan even though he’s lived with us nearly two years, since he was a kitten.

Though JMan does sometimes try and shoot the cat with a bow and arrow.  So maybe Henry being frightened of him is warranted.

Anyway, last Monday I had gotten up earlier than normal to get to work and get all caught up on a bunch of things I was behind on.  So I let Henry and Cooper out into the backyard like normal – and Henry wandered around on the patio like normal.  That is, until the sprinklers went off.  Since I was up earlier than normal, Henry had never been outside before when they went off.  And he FREAKED.  All I heard was a big thud which I assume was him ramming into the screen door trying to get inside, and then he was gone.  

At first I wasn’t that worried.  I looked for him everywhere I could, and figured he’d come right back.  JMan and I drove around the neighborhood looking for him – called for him, and I stayed home from work as long as I could waiting for him to come back.  But as the time passed the more worried I got.  He’d never been outside unsupervised before, never left our backyard before, never even left our backyard PATIO before, had never encountered another cat, squirrels, raccoons, other dogs besides Cooper, etc.  I was WORRIED.

But I went off to work, and hoped he’d be back when I got home.  But he wasn’t.  But this story has a happy ending, and he did come back, but not for a FULL WEEK folks.  So this is a story less about how to find your cat, since none of my tactics really actually worked (except waiting), but more of a story about not despairing.  Because I COMPLETELY despaired, and thought he was probably dead.  But HE CAME BACK.  

So here’s how to find your lost cat:

1)  Look!  Obviously.  I was a crazy person about looking.  I completed only one workout last week (besides Hood to Coast) because all I did was walk around the neighborhood calling and looking for Henry.  Even the one workout I did involved a 6 mile run around the neighborhood looking for Henry.  I looked morning (before work), evening (after work), and night (right before bed when it was dark and quiet and he was most likely to come out).  I called (here kitty kitty kitty kitty), jangled his toy which makes noise, and meowed (we have this thing where I meow and he meows back).  He never came.  Annnddd the neighbors definitely think I'm crazy now.

2) Put up signs.  I put up signs the very night he went missing.  I kept them mostly to our close-by neighborhood though.  When he wasn’t back by Wednesday (2 days later), I put up more signs in the surrounding neighborhood areas.  Not one person called though, and I think our neighbors would call if they saw him.  So he was HIDING and seriously no one saw him. 

JMan thought it would've been better if we'd removed the "tag" part of the "rabies tag":

3)  Put out food.   

4)  Better yet - put out STRONG SMELLING food. 

5)  Listen at night - when it's dark and quiet and the cat is most likely to come out of its hiding spot. 

6)  Check Craigslist and your local shelter / vet.  This is more likely to apply if your cat is a wanderer.  I was pretty certain no one was actually harboring my cat – I was mostly just worried he was going to starve to death or die of thirst because he was too afraid to come out of his hiding place.

7)  Wait.  Be patient.  Don’t give up hope.  Cats have survival skills (apparently) and can last longer than you’d think without food or water.  They’re scared and they probably won’t respond to your calls even if they normally do.  They’re probably close by (some say a 3 house radius for scared indoor cats, bigger if they’re outdoor cats).

 He's alive!

I was SO hoping Henry was going to be there when I came home from Hood to Coast Sunday evening.  But he wasn’t.  And that made me REALLY sad.  But it did appear that some of the food I’d put out had been eaten.  This gave me hope, even though obviously it wasn’t certain that it was actually HENRY that ate the food and not some other animal.  But then, later when I went to get the mail, I saw something move around my neighbor’s bush.  And a flash of white.  AND THEN I SAW HIM!  He was there! 
It really looked like he might have been headed home anyway.  He appeared to be very frightened and wouldn’t really let me approach him.  I herded him under a car and a few other places before he finally went in our backyard and then in the backdoor I’d left open.  HE WAS HOME HOORAY!  
And was he every glad to be home.  Given that he’s often evil and not that friendly, he was exceedingly loving and meowing and wanting to lay in my lap and be petted.  He wouldn’t leave me alone!  We’re joined at the hip.  

And that’s how an awesome weekend became even more awesome.  If you’re reading this because your cat is lost, I HOPE YOU FIND HIM!  And Hood to Coast tomorrow, I promise.

Have you ever lost your cat?  How did you find him?  Any suggestions to add to this list?