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My Tabby Cat, Lost and Found - Why you should give your pet identification.
If you have a cat, even if they never go out of doors, even if you live on the fifth floor of an apartment building and you just know you kitty could never possibly escape to the outside word, give Kitty some form of ID. A collar, a microchip, a tattoo. Something. It could be the difference between your lost kitty coming home or sitting in a cage waiting for you, or anyone.
One day I saw a Tabby Cat make its way across my yard and into my neighbor's. Not an unusual site. I thought nothing of it. I live in a quiet neighborhood. At least a few families let their cats roam around, myself included. A week or so later, Tabby Cat was back. My cat seemed less than pleased to be sharing his domain. He crouched and growled as he watched the other cat. So I hurried Tabby Cat along as not to upset my cat any further. I assumed Tabby Cat headed promptly home. A few days later, Tabby Cat was back. And this time not planning on leaving anytime soon. Tabby Cat was following my cat around the yard as if trying to make a new friend. My cat is a sweetheart and would never dream of causing a fight. He just kept sheepishly walking away. Perhaps going with the "ignore it and it will go away" strategy. I took a closer look at the little Tabby and noticed that it looked a bit thin. I let my cowardly cat inside where he could get some peace. This time I did not shoo Tabby Cat away. I got a little cat food and offered it. Tabby Cat ate every crumb and looked for more. I offered just a little more and got a closer look. This cat was definitely thin and starting to show signs of an outdoor life. Great. A stray. Now What? At the time, my cat seemed to be coming down with a cold. I did not want to bring Tabby Cat into my house lest the two cats get each other any sicker. So I let Tabby Cat digest lunch and once again shooed the cat away.
The Search Begins
Well as everyone knows, feed a stray once and they will never leave. The next day Tabby Cat returned. Looking for food no doubt. I offered up another small meal. As nervous as the cat seemed to be about a stranger approaching, food was more important. Tabby Cat clearly had not been fed since the day before. It was becoming obvious to me that this cat was not returning to a home at night. Knowing what it is like to be missing a pet, I figured I would try to reunite Tabby Cat with its owners. I went inside and got the phone book. I began calling local vets and shelters asking if they had any inquiries about a missing Tabby Cat. I also left a description and my name and number with each one. Just in case a call came in at a later time. Tabby cat quickly got in the habit of visiting me twice a day. Waiting patiently at the back door for breakfast and dinner. I was scolded with a quiet meow if I failed to notice my guest right away. If I happened to sleep in, and Tabby Cat grew tired of waiting, all I had to do was call and my little friend would appear. Each meal time Tabby Cat looked up at me with the same gentle, grateful eyes.
A New search
I decided on the name Princess. I don't know why I even picked a name. It just seemed to fit. Not knowing the sex of my little friend I figured if Princess ended up being a boy I could always change it to Prince. As much as I wanted to bring her inside, I was right about my poor kitty. He came down with a cold and I could not risk them swapping germs. I was not too worried about her spending time outside as the weather was mild. I continued to feed Princess twice a day. She didn't hang out much after mealtime. Perhaps there was somewhere else she wanted to be. Or perhaps she knew she wasn't quite welcome. With each of Princess' visits, my cat would watch from the doorway, sulking. Never agressive but clearly not pleased. I continued to call vets and shelters. A few places had some descriptions of missing cats, but nothing quite matched. By this point Princess trusted me enough to let me pet her. I was able to determine that she was a fairly young, spayed female. The incision from her surgery was just about healed. Princess was becoming quite attached to me. And I was falling in love with her. My cat still seemed a bit put out by the invasion. Like an only child that is less than thrilled to welcome a new addition to the family. I scanned the local papers for ads. I looked around the neighborhood for signs. I even put up a sign of my own hoping somone would see it and know where Princess belonged. No Luck. As much as I wanted to reunite Princess with her owners, it was starting to look like my chances were slim to none. So I switched my efforts to finding her a home. No Luck. Not even close. I was met with various responses, most popular being that there was simply no room at the inn. I considered adopting her myself. She so clearly wanted me to be her new mommy. And she adored my cat, though he seemed less than fond of her. But this was not a decision I could rush into. I was recently unemployed and extremely low on funds with no income. A vet visit for a new cat and an extra mouth to feed were not going to help my situation. Perhaps I could at least foster her until I could find her a home.
No sooner did I consider taking Princess in to foster than the weather took a turn. Late fall in New York can be bone chilling at night. It became obvious that Princess was not going to be able to continue staying outside. A decision had to be made. Immediately. That evening I coaxed Princess into my kitchen for her dinner. She wasn't shy at all about coming in. Actually she had already tried to sneak in on a few occasions. Clearly, she had decided that inside my house is where she belonged. She was perfectly at ease, letting me pet her, even pick her up. Purring the whole time. Considering she was recently spayed, I was pretty sure she had all of her vaccines. I was sure my cat was up to date on his. Regardless, I was not going to take any chances by letting them have contact with each other. Princess was restricted to my office overnight. An informal quarantine. As much as I hated to put her back out the next day, out she went. Until evening when I once again brought her in for the night. I spent a little extra time with her that evening. She even sat on my lap. I thought with sadness about the family that must be missing her. She had such a sweet tempermant that it is clear she was from a loving home. And then something strange and heartbreaking happened. My nose started running. My eyes started watering. Yup. You guessed it. Allergies. I am allergic to cats. Yes. I know I own one. I have always owned at least one cat and never experienced anything close to the sniffly wattery eyed mess that Princess seemed to induce. How is this possible I thought. Even my boyfirend, another one infliced with the dreaded cat allergy, can be in my house a good 20 minutes before his first sneeze. Five minutes with Princess and he was done for. Sadly, my decision was made for me. Princess might have picked me as her new mommy, but my health said a resounding no to the new relationship, even on a temporary basis. I stepped up my efforts to find Princess a home. I even asked out of town friends and family. No luck. Not even for a foster home. No one I knew was able to take her even if just for a while. And the local organizations were either full or needed proof that she was fully vetted. Vaccines and wormings were not in my budget. It really hurt for money to be a factor. But I had to be practical. The purse strings were that tight. Paying my car insurance won over paying a vet bill for Princess.
A New Home?
So what became of my sweet little Tabby Cat? I had no choice but to take her to a local shelter. They scanned her for a microchip. None. So much for that idea. Considering her sweet nature, young age, and apparent good health, the staff was convinced she would find a home quickly. It broke my heart to leave her there. Waiting until someone decided she was good enough to bring home. I feel like I betrayed her. I still miss her. I wanted so much to keep her. I try to convince myself that I did what was best for the both of us. As awful as the idea of a shelter is, it is better than freezing outside. And the shelter seemed nice enough. Not like those horrible places that you see on TV. To this day I do not know if Princess got the home that she deserved. I can't bring myself to make that call to check. I just hope that she found a good home. A better one than I could have given her. With a mommy that can afford to feed and care for her, and maybe even a playmate that wont walk away. I will always wonder. Did I do enough to find her owners? Could I have done more to get her a new home? I tell myself I did everything within my resources, which unfortunately were not much. Had she been wearing a collar or had a microchip perhaps this story would have a differnent ending. But like so many pets, she was without ID. I cannot stress enough the importance of ID for your pet. You never know what could happen and your pet will be outside, alone, anonymous. Only to join Princess and the others waiting to pick their new owner, if they ever come along.
P.S. As I mentioned in this hub, I allow my cat to roam outside. He isn't the adventurous sort and stays pretty close to home, when he even goes out. However, if I had my choice, he would not go outside at all. It is healthier for pets, and for the local wildlife, for pets to remain indoors unless on a leash. But that is another story.
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