To find a lost pet, you need to think like a cat.
Recently, I was doing some weeding in my garden when I heard a familiar female voice calling, “Jackie! Jackie! Jackie!” I knew that this was the nickname (spoken with a slight French accent) of one of the cats that lives next door.
I quickly caught up to Suzanne, my neighbor, who was frantically searching up and down the block for her missing cat, Jack. The elderly orange-and-white fellow apparently made a dash out of the slow-closing back door, and was seen by another neighbor wandering down the street.
Unfortunately, this information was conveyed a few hours after the fact; and as Suzanne and I looked up and down the block, counting the number of places where he could be hiding, we realized that we were probably in for a serious challenge.
I went inside and grabbed a box of dry cat food (knowing that the familiar rattle might be helpful), and we checked out every backyard and garage that we could enter. No Jack. I returned to Suzanne’s house and made a run-through of every room – from my own experience, I have “lost” a cat for a few hours in a sock drawer or a particularly cozy section of a linen closet. Still, no Jack.
Then I remembered the “cat house” down the street. A kindly woman lives in the sprawling house with a wrap-around porch, and she provides a number of local feral cats the opportunity for a safe place to nap in the sun, and some shelter too out of the snow. They aren’t friendly, but they are certainly healthy looking and well-fed. The perfect place to beckon a disoriented and lost cat.
So I made my way down the street and cut through the parking lot where there were a number of parked cars. I was scanning under the cars, looking for a hiding cat … when there he was. Huddled next to a tire was a scared-looking Jack. And while the shake of the food interested him slightly, you could tell that his level of disorientation and fear kept him motionless. Luckily, Suzanne ventured upon this scene and told me to run back home and grab a can of wet food. Apparently, Jack could indeed be bribed.
I got the can of food, and also grabbed a cat carrier — knowing that Jack would probably be hard to carry home without inflicting some claw damage to Suzanne’s arms.
Ten minutes later, Jack was back home, looking none the worse for wear. But we did learn a lesson that day. Your beloved pet is not going to respond to his name when he feels like he is hiding for his life. You should try to look in places where a cat would feel safe and hidden. And most importantly, he may be a lot closer to home than you think, so don’t give up!