Cats are brilliant and troublesome creatures. For those of us who love them, they fill a vital need, entertaining and comforting us throughout our lives. Losing your beloved furball can be a heart-wrenching experience. Cats, domesticated only six to nine thousand years ago, retain their wild nature. This disobedient attitude is part of their charm, but it is also the reason why so many cats refuse to wear a life saving collar and tag.
According to a recent survey in a southwestern Ohio city, 71 percent of lost dogs were returned as opposed to just 53 percent of lost cats, while 48 percent of lost dogs had a tag or a microchip and just 18 percent of cats had either identifying device. Cats, in keeping with their nature, were five times more likely to return home on their own than dogs. More than half of all reported lost cats returned at their own discretion.
Cats are notorious for perplexing disappearing acts. While a dog’s over-enthusiasm is easily found to be the cause of its accidental displacement, a cat’s motivations for disappearance are more difficult to assess. Similarly, cats have been known to reappear without explanation, sometimes years later. However, cat curiosity can sometimes land your feline in situations which can carry them hundreds if not thousands of miles. You cannot always count on your cat to find his or her way home.
If you own a cat, you must make it wear a collar with a tag or implant it with a microchip. Which method is best is debatable. A collar and tag is easily visible, but some cats absolutely refuse to wear them. On the other hand, a microchip is permanent, but the cat must be caught by the right people in order to be identified. According to MSNBC, one such cat, by the name of Sneakers, was recently reunited with his family after 10 years of separation, by means of an implanted microchip.
In my own traumatic experience with my lost cat, it was a collar that saved him from a feral future. Momo disappeared one day, amidst the chaos and feline tumult resulting in the release of the most recent victim of the trap, neuter and return program my wife and I had brought to the stray cats in the neighborhood. The young orange tomcat, fully recuperated from his surgery and now to live outside again emerged from his cage and proceeded to run back towards the house. Momo, my cat, gave me a pouting, upturned look, and in a kitty huff, walked between garages out of the yard.
Later, I would not find him, and within two days of catlessness, I went berserk. There were flyers, and there was the obsessive searching. I found leads, chased them, and came out disappointed every time. In utter desperation I called a pet psychic. I didn’t believe the pet psychic. I knew she was just guessing, but when she told me that he had gone to the nearby cemetery, it seemed plausible.
After searching the sprawling hilly acres of the long established cemetery for days without success, I began to devise more ingenious means. I began using my humane cat trap, the one utilized in the neutering program. I set the trap in a new location every night, hidden in wooded areas and under bushes. Every morning for a month I checked and reset my trap in the sylvan burial ground. I caught five stray cats who were not mine, a baby raccoon, a skunk, and the same possum twice. I released all of them when I found them. They were all fine. I know it was the same possum twice. Just trust me.
Finally, my hope crushed, I resigned my cat to his apparent fate. Whether dead, in a new home, or wandering homeless, his chances looked slim as a cruel Midwestern winter prepared to pummel the area. It was almost a year later, in the blinding heat of summer, when a strange call about a cat wearing my phone number on a tag awoke me from what seemed like a decade of grief.
I had been through so many failed leads, so I was cautious, but the description matched perfectly and I couldn’t help but nurse my hope. My cat’s saviors, who had been feeding him as a stray for months, said that he was reclusive and preferred to live in the ceiling of the garage. We headed straight for the backyard garage and began to look for Momo, who was not in sight.
Since Momo was a kitten, I’ve been imitating the mother cat call. It’s sort of like a bird chirp, only you make it by vibrating your tongue like you were rolling an “R” and projecting a high pitched noise. I began calling my cat with my chirp, and suddenly from the garage I heard a high pitched, “Eooow!” I found him in the garage, sitting in a tiny 3″ by 3″ hanging loft space. The woman who had called me said Momo had slashed her husband when he tried to bring him in their house, but Momo practically jumped down into my arms and began to purr.
Never give up hope on your cat. Make sure they wear a tag or a microchip. Hey; why not both? Cats will get into the dumbest situations. After we learned where Momo had been, about thirty miles from our house in a neighboring town, we realized how he had gotten there. He had crawled into our neighbor’s moving truck and got an unwelcome free ride.
Momo is alive and well, living with George Meluch in Cleveland