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Editor's Note November 2013 Issue

Close to Home

The help of your neighbors can be life-saving.

Last month, I devoted this column to the brief escape of my neighbor’s orange cat, Jack, and how we were lucky to find him after a few hours. I remember that afternoon well — I was determined both to find the missing cat and also to keep my neighbor, Suzanne, as calm as possible in what was becoming an increasingly scary situation. We live in a neighborhood full of 100-year-old houses, with many nooks and crannies … not to mention basements, garages and barns.

It really did feel like we were looking for a needle in a haystack and I consider us to be very lucky that we found Jack as quickly as we did (he was huddled under a car in a nearby parking lot).

I emphasized to Catnip readers that the odds are that your missing cat is a lot closer to your home than you think; and to not give up your search, no matter what. I felt like the advice and experience could be useful to a cat owner in the future.

Well, let me tell you that it’s a lot easier to help a friend look for a cat than to experience it first-hand. Not long after that issue was sent to the printer, I woke up one morning to find my back door wide open thanks to the carelessness of a friend who was visiting the night before.

I need to explain that my cats are exclusively indoor-only. I try to make the enclosed sun porch as cat friendly as possible, and never have they so much as shown an interest in darting out the front (or back) door.

But an entire night of open-door temptation was too much for my tabby, Puja, to resist. (Luckily, my other cat is extremely bonded to me and slept with me the entire night.)

I immediately looked around my house and the neighboring properties. I tried to imagine where she might choose to hide — knowing that this little “adventure” likely started out to be great fun and quickly disintegrated into a stress- and fear-filled experience for her.

A friend came over to help, and we spent the entire day searching for Puja. An invaluable asset that I didn’t emphasize before is how important it is to engage your neighbors in the situation. They can be your eyes and ears in their backyards, or garages — places where they are more familiar and have much greater accessibility.

Sure enough, around dinner-time, one of my neighbors came by and said they thought Puja was underneath their back deck (apparently, she aroused the interest of their two dogs). I rushed next door, and with the help of a flashlight, I could see her huddled in the far end underneath this deck with very little room to spare.

After a great deal of coaxing and patience, I got her to inch toward the edge of the deck and I grabbed her — this was life and death to me — and got her into the cat carrier I brought along (safety first, so take precautions to get your traumatized cat home in a carrier, if possible).

It is very hard for me to adequately describe the sense of relief I had when I brought her back inside our home. If my personal experience can help even one single reader find his or her beloved lost pet, then I feel that this space was well-utilized.

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