On Missing Pets

So, we know that cats attract an unusual sort of person. Maybe the kind of person who doesn’t believe they deserve the love of a pet, but instead needs to be punished by an animal that bestows and denies affection on an apparently arbitrary basis. Cats do not behave rationally.

When a friend-of-a-friend lost his cat, he did the normal things. He posted his info online; he put up the posters. And, for a while, nothing happened.

And then, he got a call from a concerned older lady. We’ll call her a crazy cat lady (CCL) because this blog is not afraid of cheap caricatures. The CCL says she has the missing cat. She provides pictures. The pictures…well, they’re inconclusive. The owner of the cat is convinced but my friend is not.

She sends me the photos and we spend way too long looking at fur patterns on paws, on what could be a shadow across a face. We think we’re maybe in CSI: Feline (message me if you want to option this as an actual idea for a show – I think we have 500 episodes that will almost literally write themselves).

X [friend]:

i just sent you pix

would you tell me what you think?

 SCoS [me]:

It’s hard to tell as the new photos are, as you said, blurred…and light can affect how fur looks.

But it’s definitely a similar-looking cat.

The definite-cat pics do look like the fur is darker.

But not entirely different.

And it could be the blur/bad light.


yes, it is….and the light could be washing him out


I wish I could see the paws better.


zoom in on the blurry cats left front paw


He’s got distinctive marking on the paws.


yes, doesn’t it look like he has a stripe across his toes? on the front left?


It does, but it could be a shadow.

When/if your neighbor gets to see the cat, the paws are the clue, visually.


OMG, you are right about the shadow, I am going to send you a higher res image of that one

Sometimes, this is how I spend an afternoon.


Things get weird.

The CCL and her friend have been talking and they decide that the poor guy who just wants his cat back has clearly been negligent – simply because he lets his cat roam free in the neighborhood. They are now unwilling to return the cat. In fact, they tell him, they no longer have  his cat (which we’re not even sure is  his cat) because they’ve deposited him in a local shelter.

But they’re not going to tell him which one. And they are done with the whole thing.

So, our cat-less hero does two things. First, he starts writing about the whole thing online (because this is the world we live in); second, he goes on a magical mystery tour of local animal shelters. He checks out the cats. None of whom match the description of his missing cat.

Things get weirder.

A lawyer calls him, says she’s acting for the CCLs. They still have his cat, she says, and they want to get it back to him.

I’m available right now, he says.

There’s a lot of people involved, she says. It’s complicated. She’ll call him back later today. He Googles the phone number, confirms this is really a lawyer.

Unless he’s being catfished, I say. Or they’re gaslighting him. I am clearly both pathologically suspicious and well up on the zeitgeist of terms for psychological abuse.

Things continue to be weird.

The lawyer calls again. She says the CCLs have changed their mind. They don’t have the cat, but it is such-and-such cat at such-and-such cat shelter.

And so, our hero returns to the shelter he was only just at. They don’t have his cat. The supposed cat is one he’s already seen and removed from the investigation.

We are not surprised.

The cat remains missing. But there remains cause for optimism. My sister-in-law’s cat was missing for a year, then he turned up. He’d been living with a CCL across the other side of a freeway.

But this whole saga hits close to home. Imagining our two little balls of fur wandering the streets without us is a new and exciting way to fill my heart with anxiety and dread. Our next-door-neighbor’s dog gets out on a semi-regular basis. Mostly, he hangs around the front of their house until someone passes who knows where he should be and puts him back in their yard – making sure to close the gate properly, which is a skill that someone in their household has clearly yet to master.

And the amount of missing animal posters we see is a little…odd. This is the latest one:

Taco Cat

But mostly, I get worried when I see something like this:


I mean, this is a level of missing pet flyers over the years that belongs in a Stephen King story. Castle Rock has poles that look like this; real places with real owners of real pets should not.

So, we make sure our gates are closed and I don’t leave the fursters outside unattended. Because we don’t want them running away – or, apparently just as bad, ending up in the hands of crazy old ladies who may or may not have deposited them in local shelters. No one has the time – or the emotional fortitude – for those kinds of shenanigans. True story.

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