A Cat Mother’s Nightmare

As an avid pet lover and critter owner, over the past 40+ years, I have heard from friends, acquaintances, and veterinary professionals about a dog or cat escaping from their home and becoming lost. I have always been fortunate that I have never lost one of my pets, until a few weeks ago. It all began with a visit from one of our veterinarians to vaccinate all the "pasture animals" (two mini-donkeys, and two horses). I eagerly invited Dr. Coe into our home encouraging her to see all the kittens we currently had. After the suitable "oohing" and "ahhing" on how cute the kittens were, Dr. Coe exited our home by the garage.

It wasn't until the next morning that I discovered anything amiss in our household. I had just prepared the cat and kitten's canned food dishes and was setting them down on the kitchen floor, when I noticed that every feline body was accounted for, except Sophia, our calico Persian cat. My stomach fell, and I felt ill. I quickly started to search our home for Sophia to no avail and the search was expanded to include the basement and the garage. Sophia was nowhere to be found inside our home. Over the next 24+ hours, I searched again and again; checking drawers, cabinets, closets, furniture, TV cabinets, any place I thought a cat might decide to hide. With each unsuccessful search it was becoming clear to me that Sophia was not simply hiding for some unknown reason. No, Sophia had gotten outside our home and for whatever reason was not coming to me when I called her.

I contacted the microchip registry,  to report Sophia missing. They took all the information about when she was last seen and where she was last seen. A poster with pictures of Sophia and contact information was printed out for my husband to start hanging around the "neighborhood". We don't live in a neighborhood per se; we live about 5 miles in either direction from a small town. Our home is situated on almost 19 acres of pasture and timbered land and is surrounded by large farms. Because we live in such a rural community, there is always the threat and problem with "varmints" (raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and large birds of prey) that can, and have, eaten my chickens and guinea hens.

I raised Sophia from the time she was about 12 weeks of age. She has lived in this house her entire life. She has never been outside. To top things off, I knew Sophia was at the tail end of her heat cycle when she disappeared. It had been raining with lightning and thunder since Sophia had gotten outside. I was heartsick thinking of all the dangers that Sophia might face. I imagined her hurt, scared and confused. I drove myself nuts during the two days that Sophia was outside with all sorts of over-imaginative negative scenarios.

Mid-afternoon of the second 24-hour period that had passed, I was on the telephone with a friend of mine, and like I did several times a day at that point, I would open the front door walk onto the porch and scan the front yard and bushes for Sophia. I happened to glance to my right and over the porch railing, sitting on top of the box that holds the rolled up lawn hoses, was Sophia! I approached her, and she dashed off the box and under the porch. I had seen her face before approaching her, and Sophia looked scared to death, so I was not surprised by her dashing off at my approach.

I went back into the house, got her favorite toy and brought it outside to see if I could coax Sophia out. She was too scared. First attempt to "rescue" Sophia, fail. I then got one of her kittens and brought it outside to see if hearing the kitten cry might get Sophia to approach me for capture. Second attempt, failure.

So, back inside the house where I got one of the cat carriers and put the kitten inside the carrier. I quickly corralled our other inside pets: two dogs, and all the Persian cats and kittens to put them in a room or carrier until my third attempt to rescue Sophia could be made. Once all the animals were safely put up, I took the carrier with Sophia's kitten inside and placed the carrier in our front foyer. I left the front door wide open and crossed my fingers that Sophia would be lured inside by the cries of her kitten.

Almost one hour later, Sophia had slowly made her way into the house to examine the kitten. We closed the front door and Sophia took off running to hide. We left her alone, and it took another few hours before she approached me for attention. I picked her up and saw a black mark on her left side. I thought perhaps she had been bitten or something. Upon closer inspection, I found the black mark was a tick, but it was not yet engorged and was easily backed out. I treated Sophia for worms, ticks, etc. just to make sure that if she picked something up, she and the others would be okay. I also treated every other dog and cat in our household.

What Has This Episode Taught Me?

The obvious answer is to more carefully watch for open doors. While microchipping our pets to make recovery of a lost pet possible; it is equally important that IF someone finds a pet, to take it to their local shelter or veterinarian to have the animal scanned for a microchip. That is the ONLY way for a pet to be reunited with its owner.

Questions and Solutions

I have found a lost pet. I have the microchip number. How do I locate the owner?

Go to the 24-Hour Recovery Network website and enter the microchip number.

I have found a lost pet and I do not know if he is chipped. Help!

Check for a collar tag containing a possible chip number, or take the pet to a shelter, rescue organization, or veterinarian, where the pet can be scanned for a microchip.

My pet is missing! Who do I call?

Go to the 24-Hour Recovery Network website and enter the microchip number.

I have moved or my pet has a new owner. Help?

Go to the 24-Hour Recovery Network website and enter the microchip number.

I need a new collar tag for my microchipped pet?

Call the Pet Recovery Network where your pet is registered and order a new tag, or order one from a local pet store or vet... Make sure you have the accurate chip number for your pet.

I will be traveling with my pet to Europe or another country. Help?

There are requirements for pet travel outside of the United States. Go to www.buddyid.com for more information.