Sasha, you’re found!

On the morning of Monday, October 17, 2005, I was leaving for work. I noticed a cat outside my Seattle apartment.


My 7-year-old Maine Coon tabby Sasha, whom I've had for 6-1/2 years, saw the cat and became very excited.

Sasha had always shown a certain amount of desire to go out, and I'd been able to hold him back successfully. But this time was different: Sasha shot out the door after the other cat, and they started scuffling. They worked their way around to the front of the building, then around to the side opposite my front door. I ran around and didn't see either of them. I walked around looking and calling Sasha's name. . . I didn’t find him by the time I needed to go to work. My previous kitty Ashbury, whom I had from 1976 to 1994, had gotten out a couple of times and stayed away for only a few hours, so I actually wasn’t too worried about Sasha being outside at the moment. At work I arranged to take the next day as a vacation day, just in case I didn’t find Sasha right away.

When I got home from work that night and didn't see Sasha as I searched. I got much more worried. I emailed the news to several of my best (and most cat-empathetic) friends, partly because some of them are on my pub trivia team, and I wanted to let them know that I'd be unavailable for the duration.

One of my friends, whom I've known for almost 25 years sent me the link to Melody's website, and recommended it highly. I began reading the webpages and started to feel that I should just have called my supervisor and said I wouldn't be in that day. I had reached an emotional low point. . . I wanted Sasha home safe inside with me.

I decided I would call Melody, and it was the beginning of her giving me five days of good advice and emotional support. I learned that the site doesn't include everything there is to know about finding lost pets because, in Melody's judgment, the sheer volume of material would scare people off. She gave me a lot of uggestions specific to my situation. Not all her advice was intuitive--left to my own devices, I wouldn't have gone about it in the most effective way. She told me that Sasha probably hadn't gone far, perhaps not even off the property, and she was optimistic that he'd be found. My feeling was, "Maybe he will be, but I'll rest easier when he is."

Over the next few days I began blanketing the neighborhood with leaflets. I'd prepared a leaflet, but Melody was kind enough to prepare a better worded one in MS-Word and email to me. I looked for Sasha day and night, and she gave me tips on the best way to go about it. I continued to see the cat that had scrapped with Sasha, and Melody said it might be keeping Sasha at bay. She went on to say that as I'd adopted Sasha from MEOW (Mercer Island-Eastside Orphans and Waifs) in Kirkland, Washington, MEOW would very likely help me, and quickly, by bringing out humane cage traps to attempt catch the cat who had scrapped with Sasha, and hopefully Sasha. Linda, a local woman with links to MEOW, arrived quickly with the traps.

As it happened, I was able to catch the cat with my hands. I still left the traps set in hopes that Sasha might find his way into one.

As you might guess, this was a tough period for me. As I don't have a wife, girlfriend, or children, Sasha is the one being in the world I deeply love. I cried every day. Melody kept saying
prospects for finding Sasha were good, but I got a bit more nervous with each passing day.

At least when I looked for Sasha, or distributed leaflets, I felt that I was doing something. I was a bit relieved when Melody told me that once I'd leafleted a big enough area, "letting the leaflets work" (her words) would be an effective approach, and I wouldn't need to comb the streets block by block day and night.

Fortunately, two friends of mine were willing to come out and help search for Sasha with me, and one them, has a home-based business and once had her cat go missing, offered me free xeroxing for leaflets. Melody said I was fortunate, as many people in my situation don't have anyone to help them. Melody also got in touch with Annette Betcher, an animal communicator.

As it happens, I live on a mixed-use commercial-residential block, and my bedroom window looks out on a business. I'd been friendly for a few years with Walt, the owner, and he was one of the first persons I gave a flyer to. He said that he'd ask an employee of his, Larry, who comes to work very early in the morning, to keep on the lookout. He also said his son was a cat person and had seen Sasha many times on my windowsill, so he'd know what cat to look for.

Around the end of the week I got a couple of tips of Sasha sightings, but none of the produced Sasha.

I spent some time on Saturday, October 22, leafleting in the area Melody thought I should leaflet based on the direction I'd last seen Sasha go while scuffling with the other cat.

At the laundromat I normally use is in this area, I had an opportunity to leaflet while my clothes got clean. While leafleting I got a call from a man named Tom who'd seen one of the leaflets. He thought he'd seen Sasha, and as a cat owner, he understood what I was going through emotionally. He said that he'd keep an eye out for Sasha and try to capture him and bring him to me, and he wouldn't ask for a reward, although I was offering one. The outgoing message on his answering machine said, "You've reached the home of Tom and ..." and then named his cats, so he must love them the way I love Sasha. It was very encouraging to learn that there are so many caring people, some of whom I didn't even know a week earlier, and I came to feel that there were probably more of them out there waiting to be discovered.

At roughly 4 p.m. I was just getting back from the laundromat, and my cell phone rang. It was Larry, saying he thought he'd found Sasha. (This is my first cell phone, I've had it for 6 months, and I was sure glad I'd gotten it!) I went over, and Sasha was holed up on the floorboard in the cab of a non-working truck belonging to the business. Larry had actually been seeing him for a day or two and been putting food in the truck cab to keep luring him back, but he'd held off calling for fear of giving me false hope. If Sasha was glad to see me, he was too stressed to show it--he hissed. I went home to get his cat carrier, and Larry lent me a pair of work gloves. This struck me as a very good idea, and my hunch was right: as I was pulling Sasha out of the cab, he clawed and bit the gloves, hard. I didn't take it personally under the circumstances! Larry said he'd once had a dog go missing, and no one had helped him.

When I let Sasha out of the carrier at home, he climbed up onto my loft bed, where he's always spent a lot of time. I gave him maybe an hour or an hour and a half to decompress, and then I cuddled him. He snuggled up to me and purred, same as always! He weighs 13 to 15 lb, and any weight he lost in 5 days wasn't obvious under all the fur, but he did look a bit scruffy when I found him.

At this writing Sasha's been back home for 25 hours, and it's almost as if it never happened.

It's SO wonderful to have him back--chokes me up! As I write this, Sasha is sprawled on the loft bed looking pretty relaxed.

Undoubtedly. . . the two most helpful things were finding Melody's website, and asking Walt and his employees to watch for Sasha. Even if I hadn't needed any technical help with the search, the emotional support I got from Melody, my friends, and Bonne VeVea of MEOW was invaluable. This is one story with a happy ending! If you have a pet that is missing… keep looking for it, don’t give up.

Andrew & Sasha