Feline frenzy: The time I lost my cat

Feline frenzy: The time I lost my cat

On February 26, my life came to a sudden stop. All Pawsies who've gone through the same heart-thumping terror will relate to my emotional roller-coaster ride.

June 18, 2019

I'd just opened the door one frigid winter morning to retrieve the mail when, before I knew it, Bagheera made his escape. It was -20°C. My nightmare began.

My boyfriend and I rushed outside calling his name. Reason and logic suggest that you need to stay calm and not run after your pet in circumstances like these. Wise people would call softly to their pet—not shout. I failed.

We watched helplessly as Bagheera disappeared around the corner. He wasn't found for 19 days—the longest days of my life.

We followed all the advice that you're supposed to:

  • We put all Bagheera's personal effects, including his litter, along with some of our own unwashed clothes on the balcony. We'd been told that cats can pick up a familiar scent from up to one kilometre away. We didn't skimp on our efforts.
  • While we were at it, we put out his cat tree. It couldn't hurt.
  • We left out a bowl of food.
  • We called out for Bagheera at every opportunity, early in the morning and late at night, often waving a bag of treats.
  • We searched the surrounding neighbourhoods, under stairwells, near heating vents, under balconies.
  • Each day we called the SPCA, le Berger Blanc and numerous other animal rescue shelters.
  • We had 400 posters made up (yes, 400!) complete with colour photos. We even paid extra to have them laminated. We spared no expense.
  • We posted photographs of Bagheera on Kijiji and in various Facebook groups.

Animalert to the rescue

If you're lucky, a lost pet returns home on its own accord after a day or two. But that didn't happen in our case. So we reached out to Sauvetage Animal Rescue, which provides a search service for members when their pets go missing. On March 3, a team of six people handed out 1,200 leaflets to neighbours and passers-by as they searched for Bagheera. They even broadcast alerts on social networks, in addition to contacting local veterinarians and shopkeepers. This valuable service wasn't free, but we wanted the odds stacked in our favour.

The passage of time was difficult. My Fitbit counter rocketed up from around a thousand steps to almost 16,000 per day! We were moved by human kindness, some of it from people we hardly knew. Everyone—from our neighbours to the cashiers at our local shops—asked for news of our missing pet. It was truly comforting!

Home again

Finally, almost two weeks later, a neighbour spotted a black cat on his balcony. It was almost certainly Bagheera. But there was so much snow where the cat was hiding that it was impossible to get to him.

We had to set out a cage trap containing food. We waited for two days. A friend of mine who is an expert trapper kept us company. I was almost in hysterics. Knowing that my cat was nearby but not being able to pick him up was torture.

My friend left at around 7.30 pm that evening, advising me to also go home to rest. At 8 pm my boyfriend went to check and rushed back, shouting: "Chantal, it's over. We have Bagheera!”

I cried like I'd never cried before.

We have a picture that was taken soon after Bagheera's return. Curiously, of the three of us in that photo, I'm the one who looks like she'd been wandering for 19 days!

In fine shape

In the aftermath of his winter escape, Bagheera came back thin. His paws and ears were a little more sensitive to the cold. But otherwise he was no different from before. He was content to spend his days tanning in the afternoon sunshine and in no time Bagheera resumed his daily routine: he'd go straight from his cage to his bowl of food and then back to bed in his basket.

The moral of the story? Never despair. If your pet ever runs off, reach out to the people around you. You'll discover that in times like these your neighbours truly are your best allies. My boyfriend and I are even thinking of throwing an alley party for ours in honour of Bagheera who is now the most famous cat in town!

Photo credits: doublehashtag

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