when, on the way into the vet's office, a passing car startled my cat into the gymnastics only a feline can perform, and he went from zero to sixty in way less than 60 seconds on his trip around the corner and down the alley.
Worse yet, even though I'm a fast reactor and have chased escaping cats before, at that moment someone turned down the speed on the world and everything went into slow motion (for me, not the cat). Yowler moved so fast that I didn't see which way he went down the alley. This was the start of a horrible feeling of "sick at heart" that was only going to get worse before it got better.
I rounded the corner and saw oh, about 500 U-haul trucks (okay, so it was actually only 27). Innumerable Cat Hiding Places. I spent the next hour down on my knees looking under all the U-hauls, walking up and down the alley calling and calling and looking for likely hiding places. I felt just like something was closing in around me, like I could hardly breath. I ran into to vet's at one point to let them know I wouldn't be keeping my appointment. The office staff looked at each other and said to me, "Oh, you need the pet detective lady…..she doesn't live too far from here. We'll call her for you." I thought, Wow! Someone who helped in these circumstances!
As soon as Melody laid eyes on me, she came right up to me and gave me a big hug. It was what I needed most. I also knew right then that if I could hold back the tears, it would be okay to cry in front of this lady. I think Melody is part psychologist, because she got my mind off the terror I was feeling by starting to tell me positive things about finding cats and what cats do when they get scared and run away. I couldn't remember any of it later (I didn't remember too much about that day except trudging up and down the area around that alley calling and calling for Yowler and feeling sicker and sicker in my heart) but that didn't matter. Melody just took me under her wing and got us moving to all the right places.
After three hours of searching and calling, I was freezing cold and just needed to go curl up and recover for a while from all the distress. By then it was very noisy from traffic and businesses, and Melody told me that Yowler would just hide and stay quiet until at least that night, and even then he probably wouldn't move until the next morning when hunger and thirst starting making him want to look for at least water. That afternoon, she had sent me Internet photos of cat pictures so we could find something that resembled Yowler to put on a flyer. By 5 p.m. she had flyers for me and had left them at our house while my husband went searching again.
The next morning I was back in the loss area, walking around giving out flyers to businesses that were open and sliding them under doors where places were still closed. I also walked into a nearby neighborhood and left some on porches. I met quite a few people at work in area businesses who were very kind and supportive. I spent some time standing in the middle of a parking lot sobbing. After several hours, I went on to work. Melody called me to let me know she'd been in contact with people she knew in the area, and to let me know about some folks she wanted me to meet later that day.
In the afternoon, I met her and she drove me around to places where she knew cats were likely to be attracted to, or homes where the people would be happy to keep an eye out for Yowler (or in his case, "an ear"…note his name). I was getting more and more heartsick. Every time I went anywhere near where Yowler had disappeared and came away without sight or sound from him, I felt worse. I knew I was developing an aversion association with the area where I'd last seen him.
Melody had sent me a very informative email listing various things to do, so after I got home and "regrouped" a little, I could read that and think about what to do next. She was going to start making some flyers that could be placed on phone poles and which would withstand rain for a while. She'd contacted people she knew in the area who would be glad to keep an eye out for my cat. Friends were calling me and letting me know they were thinking good thoughts for us.
This story has a happy ending. Two days after Yowler ran down that alley, I was up early preparing to go on another search. At 6:40 a.m., I heard a familiar "yeowl" on the porch. I raced for the front door and fumbled with the locks, practically tripping over my own feet on the way out. For a split second, nothing on the porch, then around the corner comes……you guessed it, the furball himself. I scooped him up and sobbed out loud all over him. He put up with that for a few minutes and then let me know food was actually his first priority. Yowler had made his way home all the way from the vets on his own. It's amazing he was able to find his way home from such a distance away from our home. But, somehow he certainly did. Our other cats both ran up to him as if to say, "Hey, where ya been?" After snarfing up a bowl full, he got up in my lap and we just leaned back, both exhausted but happy. He stayed inside all day, snoozing and eating, and our other cats stayed close too. We were counting our blessings all day
.A happy ending to the day was when Melody and her husband came over to take pictures of Yowler to put on her website. We had fun seeing if he'd stand still for a picture, and I think Yowler knew he was a celebrity because he was a real poser for a few of the shots. We even got one of He Himself in the arms of moi, a big grin all over my face.
Yowler's Mom, Ms G.
Thanks Melody!! This is a really neat thing you do.