(Missing for 5 long months)

March 29, 2001, was one of the happiest days of my life. After 11 ½ years in the frozen tundra of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I was finally back in Bremerton, Washington, land that I loved and where I consider my home. My joy turned to sorrow on April 3, 2001,

when my favorite cat, Waylah, got outside. I can still remember the way he turned around and looked at me as I called him, and then he left. I’m sure he was angry with me because of the long ride from Michigan in a cat carrier. 

After the trip, he needed to get out and explore. I thought, “he’ll be back by tomorrow” but neither one of us realized that he would be lost, because he had no scent to follow. Several times each day and especially at night, I would be outside calling “Wahlahhhhhh, Waylahhhhh.” Then the realization hit me that Waylah was LOST! And I didn’t know what to do or when or "IF" I would ever see him again. Because of my severe anxiety and depression, I spent the next several weeks in bed. We also moved to another home, away from the area where Waylah had become lost.

When I felt well enough I looked in the yellow pages for places to call. I called Bremerton Animal Control, Kitsap Humane Society, PAWS, and The Consolidated Lost Pet Line. My Waylah Journey
I looked on the internet everyday at their websites for my kitty. Whenever I saw a cat that looked like it could be my Waylah, I went to that shelter and looked. I went as far as Seattle to see a look-alike who was listed as a male but turned out to be a female. I walked door to door in my neighborhood with a picture of a cat that looked like my Waylah.

Once again, I spent another few weeks in bed due to the emotional trauma I was experiencing because I really needed my cat who is more than a pet to me. My best friend Waylah who let me cradle him in my arms like a baby, and kiss him on his mouth was gone. No more sweet meeeews. I was totally distraught from his absence for the first time in the six years of our togetherness. I was a witness and assisted in his birth, he was my son! I was more than sad without him. I cried so much I became physically ill. I would holler in grief “WAYLAAAAAHHH.”

Then I would look some more. I looked at www.Pet-Ark.com everyday. I wrote down all the phone numbers of people listed there locally and called each one to find out if they had found a kitty. One of the people there told me about the Pet Detective,,, but I didn’t take it seriously. Although I would soon find out that that Melody the Pet Detective is very serious indeed abut her commitment in reuniting people with their missing pets. While surfing the web one day I came across her website at www.pet-detective.com. I read her story about her missing kitty, Norman, and the great lengths she went through to find him. I read about other pet owners’ reunions with their pets with help and support through the pet detective. I saw that she could list my missing cat on her website, I emailed her asking her to do, as had countless others. We exchanged phone numbers. She gave me emotional support, in person help, some great tips, and she told me how to go about passing out flyers. I asked, “how do I make flyers?” She said if I gave her pictures of Waylah she would make them for me. Looking at pictures of Waylah was not something I wanted to do and it was very difficult as I looked at pictures blurred by my tears. After deciding on a picture I met the Pet Detective one day which was really neat because we both have the same first name, and we had spent so much time on the phone already it was exciting to finally meet her in person. She had the flyers made within two days, which I thought was incredible because she is a very busy lady helping others in their search for their missing pets.

My Waylah Journey So I went through the neighborhood passing out flyers at homes, posting them on telephone poles, bus stops, a store, anywhere I thought someone could help.
With the assistance of the Pet Detective we set up alive trap there with some tuna IN OIL, a washcloth with catnip, and a big bunch of my hair that I cut off because Waylah always loved my hair. 

I trapped several cats, but none were my Waylah. I was getting sick again so I needed to take a break. Each time I needed to take a break I either phoned the pet detective or emailed her. During time I took these much needed emotional breaks, she would continue the search for my Waylah. When I was ready to return to searching again I alerted her once again. I received call from person nearby that they thought they might have sighted Waylah, so I moved the trap to his house and again, trapped several cats but not my Waylah. This person turned out to not be very nice and threatened harm to the neighborhood cats so I removed the trap. I periodically walked around the neighborhood to let people know I was still looking for my cat as the pet detective had advised me to do. I received some calls from different people about possible sightings, but those all turned out to be female, not one neutered male.

At times I was feeling pretty hopeless and frustrated but every time I spoke with the Pet Detective she was very encouraging and turned my feelings of hopelessness, into hopefulness. At times I really wanted to quit but at those times, I would just withdraw from the searching for periods of time.The pet detective had told me that when a kitty becomes frightened and lost they often no longer mouse, because they feel they are now the preyed upon in unknown territory to them. Often not able to sustain themselves enough, that they lose weight and their health during their time of being lost. But, I convinced myself that Waylah was a good hunter and keeping himself fed and living the good cat life. I tried to rationalize that he was happier living the carefree life outdoors the way cats like to be. Even so, I would never let myself totally quit looking for him. I felt guilty about taking breaks from searching, but I knew if I didn’t take care of myself I wouldn’t be able to look for and take care of Waylah.

Once while visiting the Humane Society I remember seeing a male at who was not neutered and maybe if I closed my eyes and checked again his testicles would be gone because I so desperately wanted him to be Waylah.

Friday, August 24, 2001, I received a phone call from a lady, Lola, claiming she could see my cat laying in the road basking in the sun and My Waylah Journey
while we were on the phone, her husband went out to the street, got the cat, and took it inside. So once again, I am on my way to someone’s house to see a cat that probably isn’t going to be Waylah anyway but I still have to go see for myself. 

Keeping my emotions in check, not getting my hopes up too high, as it probably would again not be my Waylah.I knocked at the door and was invited inside. I saw Bob holding a cat and I knew right away it was Waylah. I remember asking the Pet Detective once, “what if I don’t recognize him?” She said, “you’ll know your kitty when you find him, the face never changes.” I saw those emerald green eyes, he let me kiss him on the mouth as I had been doing since he was born. The final test was checking to see if this cat was a neutered male. I was shocked when I looked and saw that it was a neutered male. This cat passed the 3 tests...the eyes, the kiss, and being neutered. I fell to the floor on my face and cried and cried right in the middle of these nice people’s kitchen floor. I had looked at so many cats wishing that they were Waylah and now that I found Waylah, I was wishing that it wasn’t him. I was not emotionally or mentally prepared for what I saw. I really believed that Waylah was taking care of himself by hunting, but instead he had been literally starving to death. He went from a huge 14 pound ball of fur with a raccoon tail to an emaciated skeleton with some fur there but a lot missing weighing only 8 pounds. And that’s counting the fleas he picked up! He was not able to take care of himself, the way I believed. I knew that when I found him he would be very matted and have some fleas and scratches, but I was living a fantasy believing that. I cried for how terrible he looked, I cried for not being able to protect him, I cried for not having him for the past five months, I cried for how hard he tried to survive. He wanted to be found, he wanted to be cared for and pampered, he missed me as much as I missed him. I took him to the vet where he was treated for his severe infestation of fleas which caused him to be anemic. He had sores under his fur where the fleas were just eating on him.

Right now as I write this, I am so thankful to see Waylah in my room again. I am so happy to have him back in my life. I am saddened by his appearance but the vet expects him to fully recover. I am grossed out by the amount of fleas falling off of him as they die. I have him in my bedroom with the door locked, he’s got his own litter box, food, and drink and plenty of attention from me. I am really blessed to have him home, and so happy that I never gave up looking for him.

I learned a lot of things during this journey. I love the word ‘persevere’ because if you persevere, you still have hope and for me that’s how I get by from one day to the next. It’s okay to take a break from life once in a while. I found out that in spite of all the evil in the world today, there are still a lot of nice people who do care and want to help. If anyone reading this suffers from mental illness and you are missing a pet, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for taking a break during your search, it’s okay. Follow your gut instinct; if you have that ‘feeling’ that your cat is in a particular area don’t give up searching there.

Don’t believe for one second that your cat can survive on its own, because they can’t. Believe every second that your kitty wants to be found as much as you want to find them. Expect the worst but, hope for the best.

The first person I called when Waylah and I were reunited was the Pet Detective. She was just as excited as I was to know that my Prodigal Son had returned to me. She hurried over to my home to meet my Waylah for the first time in person, take pictures, and give me praise for not giving up my search. She gave me some after care advice, and hug before leaving. She told me it was nice to see me smiling.

(((Thank you Pet Detective Melody for all your help and continual support)))

Love~ Melody & Waylah