We borrowed traps from MEOW Cat Rescue the first day she was gone and started setting and baiting them immediately, putting in catnip and the smelliest food we could find. We set and checked traps around the neighborhood for weeks. We reported Roxy as missing to the microchip company. We put up huge pink LOST - PLEASE HELP posters all through the neighborhood so that no one could miss them. We put up "Lost Cat" alerts on social media sites and in specialty groups on Facebook (Lost Cats of King County, etc.) We bought an infrared camera to try to catch sight of her next to a trap. We tried to hire several pet detectives to come out and help us search (none of them would come to our part of Washington). We hired a man with a cat-sniffing dog ($300) who could not find her. (If you have a lost cat, we strenuously do not recommend this service -- he will probably end up chasing your cat further away, which is what happened to Roxy.) We performed two house-to-house searches, one in our neighborhood and one around my friend Wendy's house where Roxy was spotted. We put out traps and food near Wendy's house (Roxy didn't touch them). We borrowed a drop trap and stayed up two nights running with it trying to catch Roxy (she didn't come near it). We printed more than 1800 flyers asking people to help us find Roxy and hand-delivered them to every single house in the neighborhood. (If people had "No Soliciting" signs up, we took note of their addresses and mailed the flyers to them, so nobody was missed.) We went through the neighborhood at night looking for her, sometimes silently, sometimes calling softly. We bought an e-book from a pet detective in Texas to try to figure out things we weren't already doing. We changed our voice mail message to mention we are looking for Roxy and checked the phone multiple times a day for leads. We followed up on every lead every time someone called to say "I think I saw your cat." We asked people to check their security cameras for signs of Roxy. We offered $50 to anyone who could provide a verifiable picture of Roxy within the last 24 hours. (So far, no one has.) We created a Pawboost alert for social media that went out all over the greater Seattle area. We put up "lost cat" ads on Craigslist. We checked and continue to check the shelter websites every night and morning to see if Roxy has been brought in. We gave flyers to local vets, pet stores and MEOW Cat Rescue. We let all the local shelters know we were looking for Roxy. We left water and a little cardboard "kitty house" next to the door in case she found her way home. We left the door open all day and night in case she found her way home. We prayed, had many others praying for us, we fasted for Roxy, and I put a cat's name on the temple prayer roll. (I'm not sure if it's allowed, but I did it anyway.)
All in all, we have spent nearly $2,000 so far to try to get Roxy home. We've also lost many hours of sleep and I dropped about 10 pounds from constant worry. And nothing has come of it. Roxy remains missing, and we are trying to come to terms with the fact that we may never see her again.
Yes, it hurts. Every day. And yes, I'm bitter about it. If you went to this much trouble to find a lost pet and had absolutely no success, I guarantee you would be too.
While the traps didn't work as we'd hoped, they did yield some surprises. We caught two different opossums in various locations. We also started leaving a trap baited in our front yard in the vain hope of catching Roxy if she found her way home again. And while we didn't catch Roxy, on the morning of July 11 we found something interesting in the trap.
He appeared to be a little street cat, but he wasn't feral -- he didn't hiss when humans approached his cage...
|I'm just gonna leave this here|
|"Hi! You got treats?"|
Now, our county has laws about what to do if you find a stray cat. You can't just say "o well, finders keepers" and merrily yoink him off the street. The law stipulates two options: either you take him to the county shelter, where they try to find his owners for THREE WHOLE DAYS and then put him up for adoption, or you can keep him in your own home at your expense for A FULL MONTH, advertising him as a found cat on local bulletin boards and on the shelter website so that his owner -- if there is one -- has every chance to come forward and claim him. Once the month has passed, you're then free to pay the licensing fee and keep the animal if you want. Because we're kinda dumb (and because he was really cute), we chose to do it the hard way and foster the cat in our home. (And if you're reading this, it means a full month has passed with no contact from an owner.)
So was this a cheap way to get a cat? Well, not the way we did it. This kitty has already been to the vet five times -- to scan multiple times for a microchip, to find out why he was coughing, to check up on an enlarged heart (his heart is unusually big, but it works just fine)...
|Alas, the Cone of Shame.|
If you'd like to know why, read this.
This cat has been through several name changes. Because we trapped him on July 11, which in the USA is 7/11 (aka Free Slurpee Day at the 7-Eleven convenience store chain), we first called him Slurpee, but we soon decided that was an insufficiently dignified name for a masculine cat. Then, as the call of the wild began to tug at him and he came up with novel, loud and annoying ways to attempt egress from the house at 2 a.m. ...
|"Some day, window. Some day."|
It's still possible that Roxy will come back. If she does, we'll need to find a good home for Charlie. While we think Charlie is social enough to tolerate another cat, Roxy is far too timid to handle other animals in the house. But if she remains missing, we intend to keep this guy. He's stopped trying to escape (well, mostly), he's well-fed, well-groomed and flea-free, he gets to play with toys, randomly attack the sofa, and chase Tigger (a catnip-filled knitted tiger toy)...
|Local street cat makes good. Film at 11.|