Cat lost at Devil's Tower - help
July 13, 2012 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Cat lost at Devil's Tower. What to do?

My spouse is driving cross-country with our cats and one got loose at Devil's Tower National Monument.
He's been there an hour. He's at the car with food out.

It is hot and rocky.

I'm in DC, about to get on an airplane with a 3 year old.

Any ideas on what he can do?

Any mefites live near by and can help?

He's Walter and his cell is 8023107504.

I THINK she is chipped, but honestly I can't remember. The paperwork for her chip is with Walter and the address would be out-of-date.

Thank you MeFi.
posted by k8t to Pets & Animals (377 answers total) 134 users marked this as a favorite
I THINK she is chipped, but honestly I can't remember. The paperwork for her chip is with Walter and the address would be out-of-date.

Get in touch with the chip company as soon as possible and get at least the phone number changed to an accurate one. This way if she gets scanned someone will be able to contact you.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:28 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Phone number on chip would be up-to-date.
posted by k8t at 12:32 PM on July 13, 2012

Has he searched the immediate area? When my indoor-only cats get outside they tend to sprint a short distance (50-100 ft or so) and then they get scared and hunker down in the most sheltered spot they can find in the immediate vicinity (under a car or in a bush or similar).
posted by Rock Steady at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2012

Washington DC subreddit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2012

Agreed - Walter, look under cars.
Room317 - how can dc reddit help?
posted by k8t at 12:48 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was just providing another place with lots of people who might be able to help look.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:48 PM on July 13, 2012

(Devil's Tower is in Wyoming.)
posted by something something at 12:49 PM on July 13, 2012

And Tina the cat is indoor-only, but up on her shots.

Has anyone been to Devils tower and can describe it?

I think he's at the observation deck?
posted by k8t at 12:49 PM on July 13, 2012

I'm an idiot. Sorry.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2012

So on this page about pets at Devils Tower, it has a number for a vet in the area. Maybe they'd have some idea of what to do or someone they could send out to help? It's the Crook County Veterinary Service, 307-283-2115.
posted by limeonaire at 12:52 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

2nd cat is in car, fwiw. I think he's 200 ft from car at observation deck. (And why the hell he had cats loose is yet to be determined and I'm trying not to be mad about that now.)
posted by k8t at 12:52 PM on July 13, 2012

Also, is there anyone on staff on-site right now? If not, the visitor information line there is 307-467-5283, per the contact page.
posted by limeonaire at 12:54 PM on July 13, 2012

Devil's Tower doesn't really have an observation deck per se. There's a parking lot with a view of the monument, and on one side is the ranger's station with a little store and stuff, and on the other side is the trail that goes up to and around the monument. The cat is probably under a car or in the grassy/treey area on the side of the parking lot.

Pretty much in/right next to the lot there is a ranger station, it probably is worth telling the ranger on duty about the cat and providing contact info in case anyone reports it.
posted by phoenixy at 12:58 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think he's 200 ft from car at observation deck.

Once he has searched the immediate area as well as possible, I would have him stay at the car, with doors/windows/trunk opened as much as possible (to get his scent on the wind) and food scattered on the ground around the car. Don't run to the cat if he sees her -- try and circle around and herd cat towards the car. If the cat is really skittish he can use a towel or blanket to throw over the cat like a net, and then jump on the towel to trap her (don't crush her in the jumping, obvs).
posted by Rock Steady at 1:00 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

2nd cat is in car, fwiw.

Might want to tell him to get the cat into someplace air-conditioned before he spends much time searching. lest you lose the second one to heat stroke.
posted by jon1270 at 1:01 PM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

why the hell he had cats loose is yet to be determined

I'd give him the benefit of the doubt... I checked and the temperature at the Devils Tower site is 99 degrees with full sunshine, so he may have been trying to struggle to get ventilation for the cats and maybe got too hot himself to be in the frame of mind to manage the situation.
posted by crapmatic at 1:03 PM on July 13, 2012

it probably is worth telling the ranger on duty about the cat and providing contact info in case anyone reports it.

If he hasn't already, he should tell anyone and everyone nearby to keep an eye out. I know my first inclination would be to clam up and hide my mistake, but even complete strangers will help search for a lost pet if asked.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:05 PM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

He needs to be prepared to catch the cat by its tail and emerge victorious from the ensuing struggle-- by far the easiest way to catch a cat, but it WILL scream and fight. And it's a really large area, so he should be calling for the cat as loudly but nicely as possible.
posted by acidic at 1:07 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

He needs to be prepared to catch the cat by its tail and emerge victorious from the ensuing struggle-- by far the easiest way to catch a cat, but it WILL scream and fight.

Yeah. Tools I would gather for this job:

Gloves (the heavier the better)
Blanket/towel (for trapping net)
Pillowcase (to throw trapped cat into, then just put pillowcase in carrier and cat will climb out herself -- no risk of escaping again while transferring into carrier)
posted by Rock Steady at 1:11 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I doubt it makes a difference but my parents once lost my cat at a rest stop in the Everglades. I made them drive an hour back to look for her. Everyone thought it was a lost cause and I was being a brat making them drive back, but I got out of the car and called her from the spot where they had been parked and she came right out of the woods to me. Have him just keep calling it. Here kitty kitty or whatever. And yes make sure the other cat's cool and okay.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:12 PM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

He has a towel. Probably none of the other stuff.
posted by k8t at 1:13 PM on July 13, 2012

He has a towel. Probably none of the other stuff.

Then if he catches it in the towel, just wrap it up as best he can in the towel and put the whole bundle into the carrier.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:17 PM on July 13, 2012

Just a thought—he has food out, but would putting water out maybe also help? (Disregard this if he already has!) Just thinking about potential bases to cover; from what I'm reading, apparently cats can smell water?
posted by limeonaire at 1:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I called the ranger info line posted above. A very nice woman was as helpful as she could be with my lack of details. Fingers crossed everyone. Keep the advice coming.

Walter is delirious he says... But I am begging him to stay.
posted by k8t at 1:30 PM on July 13, 2012

Walter is delirious he says... But I am begging him to stay.

Does he have AC in the car? Maybe sit in the car with it running for a while?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:38 PM on July 13, 2012

Called that vet. They said they'd call ranger station if found.

I gotta board in a minute. I really hope that Walter finds her. :( Trying to be brave for kid's sake.
posted by k8t at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2012

Delirious? Grant him permission to take a break. Cat-catching takes time, patience, alertness, and calm.
posted by acidic at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walter is delirious he says... But I am begging him to stay.

It's probably pretty critical that Walter stay calm. If my experience with our cat (who occasionally vanishes into air without even leaving the house) is any guide, then calm, soothing calling is more likely than anything else to bring the cat out of hiding. The cat is uncomfortable and in a totally foreign place. Safety is the only thing on its mind. I doubt it will care about food or water anytime soon. Frantic, panicky noises and the movement of Walter running back and forth may only scare it more. My suggestion is that you tell Walter to find a shady spot and sit there, drinking tons of water and calling to the cat in the happy sort of voice he might use in your living room.
posted by jon1270 at 1:41 PM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

What everyone says about lost cats is that they don't go far. They find a hiding spot close by and get into it. Might stay quiet and not meow. So I agree with everyone above who says he should check any hiding spots in the immediate vicinity, especially the underneath of cars.
posted by cairdeas at 1:49 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

He thinks he heard her but he is going to go to ranger station (finally) for help.
Boarding. Thanks all.
posted by k8t at 1:51 PM on July 13, 2012

Oh, and this is a long shot but is Walter absolutely sure the cat got out, or is it just that the cat can't be found in the car? If you're moving and the car is full of boxes and lamps and such, could the cat be hiding under the seat or something? More than once my wife and I have convinced ourselves that the cat got out and then wandered around in the yard in our pajamas for an hour calling to her, only to find later that she'd been in some dark cranny of the basement all along.

Good luck!
posted by jon1270 at 1:52 PM on July 13, 2012

Yeah, he had them out on harnesses I guess...
posted by k8t at 1:55 PM on July 13, 2012

Good luck—I hope he and the other cat can get some air conditioning for a while at least before venturing back out!
posted by limeonaire at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2012

Photos of Tina.
posted by k8t at 2:15 PM on July 13, 2012

I am so upset for you! This is a nightmare. I will pray for your kitty to quickly return to Walter and join the other in the car for some nice A/C.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

It might be an unworkable request, but maybe he could ask the park rangers to direct traffic away from that particular parking area for a little while. If the park isn't that busy, it might be feasible. That would help keep things quiet and calm around where the cat is hiding, making it more likely that she'll emerge.
posted by otolith at 2:25 PM on July 13, 2012

On the plane WiFi now. Walter had some rangers help him look to no avail. He's gonna stay the night in whatever that town is.

He says the rangers aren't very optimistic.

Please keep sending kitty karma.

posted by k8t at 3:04 PM on July 13, 2012

See if the ranger will bring cold water to Walter so that he doesn't have to leave the area but can still stay hydrated.

I'd be more worried about the heat's effect on Walter than on the cat. Cats descended from desert animals and she'll find shade.
posted by desjardins at 3:05 PM on July 13, 2012

Google maps shows a KOA there. Any chance Walter could go see them about keeping an eye out for the kitty? Phone number is 1-800-562-5785 or 1-307-467-5395.
posted by jvilter at 3:14 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walter got a hotel room, is going to take the other cat there.

He hears her mowing/crying ever so often. He says that there are too many tourists around for him to really follow the sound though.
posted by k8t at 3:28 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

In that case, he might do better as the tourist traffic tapers off for the day - after dark, even.
posted by jon1270 at 3:35 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It probably sounds ridiculous, but if he can swing buy a convenience store on the way back, nothing gets my cat's attention like the sound of a can opener when it first pierces a can. It's probably a long shot but if he can be there when it's quiet....

Make sure Walter brings water for himself, and chips or something, if he's going to be there for a while.

I am thinking positive thoughts for your cat.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:40 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Instead of "here kitty kitty" try mewling back to her in the most pitiful little squeals you can imagine. This works far better for me because the cat thinks something's wrong with "her baby" and wants to check it out. This is the high-pitched tone you're going for.

Yes, a grown man will look ridiculous doing this, but he'll never see these tourists again.
posted by desjardins at 3:45 PM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]

I've been to Devils Tower and I know it can be a rough environment for an indoor-only cat. One thing I wanted to mention is that there are a lot of rock climbers who frequent it, and they are usually a friendly group. If you can find a climbing forum to post in you might connect with folks who will be in the area in the next few days who can help keep an eye out. I'd also recommend checking the KOA right below the tower to see if you can post something on a bulletin board.

I am so sorry for your family and your kitty and am sending you lots of good vibes. I hope Tina will stay put til sunset and then creep out when the crowds die down.
posted by handful of rain at 3:46 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looks like there's a grocery store in Sundance (I assume tat's where he's getting a hotel?). Tuna, can opener, catnip if they have it, cat treats, pull out all the stops.

HOWEVER - the rangers will not want you to leave food unattended due to wild animals. It's not bear country, so there's that.

Decker's Food Pride
106 North 7th Street
Sundance, WY 82729
(307) 283-3155
posted by desjardins at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

The fact that he's hearing her is a great sign. I think that getting a can opener and some cans of tuna and waiting until it's quieter is going to work out.

The suggestions that Walter take care of himself are spot on - he should get food for himself and make himself as comfortable as possible right now.

Can he stop someone and ask them for their help? A tourist or friendly looking family that's there? I can understand that he probably wants to stay put for as long as possible and doesn't want to run to the grocery store right now. If I were there I'd be happy to make a 20 or 30 minute drive for this, to get some tuna and cat food and a can opener. He should consider asking for that kind of help if he can.

I'm pulling for you and your family.
posted by k8lin at 4:45 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

That cat wants to be found but it's scared. Wait til nightfall or come back in the very early morning when there are fewer distractions and scary noises. Good luck. This must be awful.
posted by firstdrop at 4:46 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, WAIT to open that can of tuna until it's really quiet/nightfall.

Really hope this turns out well.
posted by Specklet at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2012

Walter says there is no groceries for 50 miles, but he does have a bag of dry food to shake and cans of wet food.

I did email him desjardin's Deckers grocery though, just in case.
posted by k8t at 5:09 PM on July 13, 2012

Oh, he does have a ton of cans of Feliaway ... Any thoughts on how he could use that?
posted by k8t at 5:11 PM on July 13, 2012

He is staying in Hullet, not Sundance.
posted by k8t at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2012

I'm sure he's thought of this but tapping the top of the wet food with his fingernail or a spoon when it's quieter out may work to get her to come running. My cat always went bananas for that noise.
posted by k8lin at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2012

On the off-chance that Walter has a smart phone and decent connectivity, Friskies has a free app that includes the sound of a can opening and a cat meowing--it wouldn't hurt to cycle through those sounds to see if one works to summons your cat.
posted by carrienation at 5:21 PM on July 13, 2012 [26 favorites]

Carrienation, that made me smile.
posted by k8t at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2012

it works, no lie.
posted by desjardins at 5:39 PM on July 13, 2012

Walter has put aloe on his sunburn, ate, bought tons of water, downloaded the Friskies app, will tap/open food, meow like a scared kitten, call for her in a sweet voice and is going back up. Please send nice thoughts.

Here's a photo from the hotel room this AM:
posted by k8t at 5:49 PM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

I've nothing to offer but good thoughts for Tina. C'mon, kitty!
posted by ladygypsy at 6:03 PM on July 13, 2012

I'm sure he's already doing this, but Walter should definitely leave the other cat in the hotel room when he comes back to the park. I agree it's a very good sign that he's heard her meowing; she's probably freaking out over the other tourists. I don't know when/if the park closes, but can he ask the park employees to let him stay late as tourists thin out? And/or leave water and clothing with his smell in the area and return early in the morning?

Here's the Wyoming subReddit: it's a long shot, but maybe someone can point you to animal shelters etc in the area at least.

Hope Tina turns up safely soon and you get a good story from her tourist kitty jaunt!
posted by nicebookrack at 6:32 PM on July 13, 2012

I'd proactively call any animal shelters in the area in case Tina's turned in. I'd also make flyers for the ranger station, gift shop, and whatever other buildings are at the park. If he doesn't have a laptop with suitable software to make a flyer, I can make one*, email it to you or him, and open of you can forward it to the hotel staff. Presumably they have a color printer and will take pity on you to print out a few copies.

*I'll probably only be available for another hour or so.
posted by desjardins at 6:45 PM on July 13, 2012

should read: and one of you can forward it ... etc
posted by desjardins at 6:46 PM on July 13, 2012

Thanks desjardins - I think he is only mobile devices right now...

A flyer would be awesome!

Walter 8023107504 or Walter.allen3 at gmail.

Tina, female stayed, brown/grey striped tabby, big eyes, friendly to strangers. 7 years old (if that matters?)

Got loose at Devil's Tower.

I think you have links to photos.

Thank you!!!
posted by k8t at 6:59 PM on July 13, 2012

give me number / name of hotel too, or DM on twitter
posted by desjardins at 7:00 PM on July 13, 2012

Best Western Devils Tower Inn 800-568-8520

(Although I'd bet that if he doesn't find her tonight, he'll go up again in the morning and then leave.)

The Ranger's Station (number linked above) is also a good contact. They said they'd house her until we could get her.
posted by k8t at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2012

Walter has been out there an hour and hasn't heard her. But it is still really loud. He's hoping at sunset for things to get easier.
posted by k8t at 7:08 PM on July 13, 2012

She's a beautiful cat, I'm sure she'll pop up. She's probably crouched down in a small place waiting for all the strange noises to dissipate. I'll definitely say a prayer for her.
posted by Atreides at 7:13 PM on July 13, 2012

What you can do is go online and find hiker's, climber's, rver's blogs and facebook pages that mention they are there right now and start getting the word out. Try nurver's on fb and see if they can give you any suggestions. Also rv.net, and any rv/pets type forums. I am sure there are plenty of campers and tourists out there right now. FB pages seem to be the most immediately active, in my opinion.
posted by Vaike at 7:19 PM on July 13, 2012

I'd proactively call any animal shelters in the area in case Tina's turned in. I'd also make flyers for the ranger station, gift shop, and whatever other buildings are at the park.

That reminds me: depending on the company that makes Tina's microchip, they may have a service that auto-faxes all the vets and shelters in the area if you report her missing. Couldn't hurt to call them in the morning and find out.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:21 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been tweeting at ppl that say they are there but I'm on my phone, on an airplane, with a 3 year old half in my lap.

If anyone has links to camping or hiking blogs or FB pages, that'd be awesome.
posted by k8t at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2012

Walter is hearing a lot of rattlesnakes... Is it a bad idea for him to be out there at night?
posted by k8t at 7:25 PM on July 13, 2012

he should not be walking through the brush at night, no. stay by the car.
posted by desjardins at 7:40 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Husband says snakes are dormant at night, so. In any case, no panicking. Don't want a lost husband - its a desolate region.
posted by desjardins at 7:54 PM on July 13, 2012

This says they warm up during the day and hunt at night. Your husband should be very careful.
posted by firstdrop at 8:11 PM on July 13, 2012

hearing a lot of rattlesnakes

Those buzzing sounds that your husband is hearing are some kind of grasshopper or cicada, not rattlesnakes.

Normal precautions for rattlesnakes are always wise in that country--ie, wear boots when hiking, don't stick your hands blindly into bushes, rock piles, under decks, etc--but the only time you're likely to hear a rattlesnake rattling at you is when you have almost stepped on it. At that point it will be unmistakably distinctive. Random buzzing sounds around the woods or field are insects.
posted by flug at 9:08 PM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah, flug is right, that's going to be cicadas and definitely not rattlesnakes that he's hearing. And snakes are not going to be hanging out at a heavily trafficked by daily foot-traffic.
posted by Specklet at 9:19 PM on July 13, 2012

I meant not going to be hanging out in an area with daily foot traffic.
posted by Specklet at 9:20 PM on July 13, 2012

No luck tonight. Walter had the hotel print up the flyers generously made by desjardins. He's going to go back tomorrow and look in the morning. And then he's giving up.

I wrote on the KOA's Facebook and they're keeping an eye out.

There doesn't seem to be any animal shelters to call.

One of the rangers on the phone told me that if they find her, she'd care for her while we get back there to get her. That's the only thing I'm feeling good about right now.

I'm now free to cry because I didn't want to upset my anxious preschooler with this all on top of him being in a new house, in a new city...

Thanks again all. I'll update you in the morning. My next AskMe will probably be how can I not hold this against Walter. (Taking exclusively indoor cats out on a harness, insisting on driving despite AskMe's wisdom to the contrary...)
posted by k8t at 10:21 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh! Fingers crossed! If I was within 100 miles of Devil's Tower I'd be there, forming a cat-posse!

(And please don't hold it against Walter -- he probably feels awful.)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:17 PM on July 13, 2012

This tip sheet about cat behavior and recovery is fascinating, and I hope helpful.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:20 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure if an extra night is in the cards, but I think the only solution at this point is to spend the day going to a big box store in one of the larger towns, buy both a conventional flashlight and a rechargeable $25 high-power spotlight, charge it during the day using AC or cig lighter power, then use it after dusk to sweep the area and find the glow of eyes

I live in the Great Plains out in the country, and can find all kinds of critters at night within 300 yards with a good spotlight and differentiate the animal type by the eye color and behavior. Use the spotlight to check sparingly for eyes, then conserve power and use the flashlight to move around safely (yeah, snakes may be around trails just after dusk, but not a danger if you watch where you step; I seriously doubt the park is going to be teeming with them). A $25 spotlight will offer about 5-10 minutes of use before running down, so use judiciously, but they're damn good for this purpose. They take about an hour to recharge in a wall socket... not sure about car lighter charge. If he does this he'll need to unpack the spotlight before leaving town, as some models require a short extension cord to plug into, and that might be hard to come by at the hotel.

The nighttime noises are katydids... as others pointed out, rattlesnakes will not rattle for no reason.
posted by crapmatic at 4:21 AM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks all.

You're right. Being angry doesn't help.

I hope Walter goes back up today. Maybe Tina's hunger will push her out of hiding.

She is really friendly to strangers... Maybe this will help too.
posted by k8t at 5:05 AM on July 14, 2012

Oh, k8t. (hug)
posted by likeso at 5:56 AM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Finally at a computer.

Walter's going back up now with flyers too.

I've posted on a bunch of local Facebook pages and Twitter.

Please send the good thoughts coming. Thanks all.
posted by k8t at 6:22 AM on July 14, 2012

PS, if Walter has to come to our new house with only 1 cat, what do I tell our 3.5 year old? Maybe Tina got lost and we're looking for her? Is that enough?
posted by k8t at 6:23 AM on July 14, 2012

Poster b/w
Poster color

Thanks desjardins.
posted by k8t at 6:25 AM on July 14, 2012

Thanks for keeping us updated! I was really hoping he was able to grab her last night. I hope he can catch her today and all five of you are reunited at once.

I'm feeling really guilty because I was so enthusiastic in your earlier AskMe about driving cross country with cats. :( My cats must be weirdly placid.
posted by apricot at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2012

Could you tell your daughter that Tina decided that the West had inspired her to have an adventure, and that she had decided to go hiking?
posted by pickypicky at 7:48 AM on July 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, I've been worried sick for you guys. So sad!

Were I in your position, I'd be honest with her: "Tina got lost and we're looking for her. Mommy and Daddy are sad and worried, but we're doing all we can and we've contacted a nice park ranger who will take care of her if she finds her."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:54 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walter had to start driving after looking this morning.

There are posters all over though and once it is 9am I'm going to call the local animal shelter.

Fingers crossed.
posted by k8t at 8:13 AM on July 14, 2012

I was hoping to wake up to good news. I'm so sorry.

I would put flyers on whatever gas stations are at the interstate exits before and after Devils Tower - that way people who are travelling there from the east or west know to watch out for a cat when they get there.

Looks like there is a Citgo on Hwy 14 and the Interstate near Sundance. That's where tourists coming from the east are going to stop on their way.

As long as you're in Sundance post a flyer at Crook County Veterinary Service, 307-283-2115.

He's ultimately headed west so he'll pass through Gillette where there are a bunch of gas stations (including one called Kum & Go, I shit you not).
posted by desjardins at 8:14 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

(including one called Kum & Go,

That's a regional chain, actually (but doesn't excuse the awful name).

I don't think anyone I know is passing through the area right now, and unfortunately, I won't be visiting there for about a month. Hopefully Tina appears WAY before then.

I'll toss it on my pitifully numbered facebook page and perhaps someone will know someone in the area.
posted by Atreides at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2012

I talked to the county animal control and they were nice. They said that they have traps that could help get her but that Devil's Tower is a bit far away.

Now after hanging up I wonder if I should have pressed her to take the traps there.
posted by k8t at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2012

Been thinking about this. Nothing to lose if you call them back, tell them how desperate things are, and maybe offer to compensate them for extra road time? The sooner the traps are set, the better, I think...
posted by likeso at 10:57 AM on July 14, 2012

The animal control says they're 50 miles away. They are being really sweet though. They suggested going to a feed store and getting a trap, but Walter's gone.

I called the sheriff and put in a report too.
posted by k8t at 11:34 AM on July 14, 2012

Now Walter's car has broken down. Any mefites in Billings, MT?
posted by k8t at 2:06 PM on July 14, 2012

Well, shit. This is not going at all well. Hon, I think you should drop a line to the mods and ask if it's okay to MeTa this call. Get more eyeballs.
posted by likeso at 2:48 PM on July 14, 2012

I'm posting on MetaTalk now... hope the mods don't mind.
posted by k8t at 2:59 PM on July 14, 2012

Yeah, I flagged my comment as noise, for attention (after fatfingering a favorite - iPad) so maybe they're already aware. I am sending you courage!
posted by likeso at 3:01 PM on July 14, 2012

Wait, asked for permission - got on a computer versus a phone... easier to find the contact form. :)
posted by k8t at 3:02 PM on July 14, 2012

No MeTa yet...?
posted by likeso at 4:15 PM on July 14, 2012

Still no word from Tina. I put up some posts on various lost cats sites. I'm still tweeting at anyone saying that they're going to Devil's Tower.

Keeping optimistic.

Saddest thing though - when my 3.5 year old Skyped with Walter tonight he insisted on talking to the kitties a number of times.

posted by k8t at 8:05 PM on July 14, 2012

I memailed the 2 poeple in Billings.
posted by k8t at 8:06 PM on July 14, 2012

It's morning here now, still very early your side of the pond, but I'm so hoping you got/get some good news, at least about the car. How are Walter and other kitty holding up?
posted by likeso at 2:55 AM on July 15, 2012

No news on the Tina front. Walter messed around with the car and thinks he might have fixed something.
Bachik the other cat is in good spirits.

Still strategizing what I'll tell my kid.
posted by k8t at 5:00 AM on July 15, 2012

No way of knowing whether he'll write the memory of what you tell him to hard disk or not. We had two kittens when I was three or four. One was killed in my neighbor's driveway. One ran away. I got the "went away to live on a farm where he/she'll be happy". It spared me the I-guess-I-didn't-love-or-take-care-of-them-enough guilt/memory. But yes, it was a lie. Not sure if I could have handled the truth. I was an intense kid.
posted by likeso at 5:11 AM on July 15, 2012

But you have a little time to see if Tina's found. I'd guess something like "she's off having an adventure!" for now, and when Walter shows up without her. "Daddy lost her" is a freakout. But how intense is your kid? Does he seem to feel things deeply, or feel responsible for things a lot, or fear things often, or feel abandoned easily?
posted by likeso at 5:27 AM on July 15, 2012

My kid is very anxious and takes things very seriously.

I just tried this... "Tina wanted to go hiking for a little bit so she's not coming with Daddy and Bachik tonight or tomorrow. She might come back to us a little later though if she doesn't like hiking as much as she thought."

He said, "I'm sad" and walked away to sulk.

We'll see how this goes.
posted by k8t at 8:29 AM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

A hard situation, k8t. On top of moving, too. My sympathies.
posted by carter at 8:32 AM on July 15, 2012

I just tried this... "Tina wanted to go hiking for a little bit so she's not coming with Daddy and Bachik tonight or tomorrow. She might come back to us a little later though if she doesn't like hiking as much as she thought."

Good call! It's actually a version of the truth, so that's good. Best of all, though, is that you can say that you're sad, too, and hope she decides to come back. So you make it okay for him to be sad and share with him. Which I'm sure you already thought of. :) Hang in there, k8t, you've done all you can for now.
posted by likeso at 8:51 AM on July 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

Sorry to hear this, k8t, and fingers crossed Tina turns up soon. I think you handled telling your son very well, and it sounds like he's got good coping skills for his age (verbalizing his feelings before taking himself away to deal with them). Sharing that you're sad, too, and that it's okay to feel sad (but that sadness doesn't excuse acting out in negative ways), and being willing to talk to him about missing Tina when he brings it up are ways I've seen parents deal effectively with their kids' emotions around missing a pet.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2012

Walter made it home and Bachik, the other kitty, is a bit shaken.

I really broke down at the sight of the empty carrier.

My son keeps asking where Tina is and saying that he's sad. (He's an asker though... not satisfied with answers.) I try to not cry too much when he asks while letting him know it is okay to be sad.

Keeping the hope up that she's a smart kitty and has found her way to a good place.
posted by k8t at 6:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he's looking around in the rocks and brush make sure he keeps an eye out for rattlesnakes. I saw three of them when I was at Devil's Tower.
posted by sybarite09 at 6:38 AM on July 16, 2012

So glad Walter and Bachik are now safely in their new home! And so sad that there's no news of Tina. Shit. I'm helping you hope that she somehow lands on her feet. Not giving totally up on a longshot just yet, though. Not just yet.

This is so tough. On all of you. I can only imagine how Walter feels. And it's your boy's first real sorrow, isn't it... you're really handling it like a pro. Well done, k8t. I'll be thinking of you all. (hug)
posted by likeso at 6:57 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

Been thinking of you all, hoping Tina is rescued.
posted by leslies at 6:27 PM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah, me too -- I've been checking this thread a couple times each day. Any news? My fingers are crossed. Hugs.
posted by Boogiechild at 6:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Me too, and exactly what likeso said.
posted by Specklet at 10:51 AM on July 18, 2012

Same, I've been checking the wyoming craigslist just in case, but i'm sure you're doing the same (saw the Tina ad reposted, keep it up!). Wish I was out there so I could take a hiking/search trip. Maybe there's a hiking subreddit or some other kind of community for hikers going to the area that people would read before going there?
posted by ghostbikes at 1:06 PM on July 18, 2012

It has been a week now and still no word. I'm going to call the local shelters and vets today to check in with them and remind them that we're still looking.

My son keeps asking where she is. It is getting easier to tell him she's hiking.

Thanks for the support everyone!
posted by k8t at 6:18 AM on July 20, 2012

Update! (Maybe.)

Walter got a phone call this AM from a 10-year-old sounding kid (with parents in the background) who said that he saw Tina by the pool at the KOA Campgrounds. He went and told the office staff (a man) who said that there were a ton of strays around and not to worry about it.

The kid noted that Tina had a little white on her paws, which she does but we didn't mention in the ad.

Also the parents were heard in the background saying "tell him that you told the office." -- Which makes me more inclined to believe it wasn't a prank.

Walter called the KOA, a woman answered and said that she hadn't heard anything about a lost cat - either a kid telling them about one or there being a lost cat to be concerned about. (Although Walter had hung a poster in the KOA office.)

I have been communicating with someone at KOA via their Facebook page, so I just posted this to the Facebook comment thread asking them to check this out.
posted by k8t at 8:45 AM on July 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hopinghopinghoping someone at the KOA office will go the extra mile....! Sending "Be A Mensch" vibes their way.
posted by likeso at 8:58 AM on July 21, 2012

Hey, and doesn't hurt to let them know that a national and international audience of potential future tourists is paying attention! ;)
posted by likeso at 9:02 AM on July 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

KOA person said via Facebook that that was a resident male cat, but that s/he is keeping an eye out for Tina.

posted by k8t at 9:15 AM on July 21, 2012

Yeah. Sigh. Okay, resident cat. But they said to the boy that they have many strays, right? So I'm still keeping bit of hope. The fact that they even have strays is a good thing. You know. As opposed to not. Means that at the very least, there are survival odds.
posted by likeso at 10:20 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, if Tina never comes home, I am convincing myself that she's joined the KOA pack and is having a lovely life by the pool.

Kid asked if Tina can please come home from lhiking and maybe if we could Skype with her to ask her to come back. Sniff.
posted by k8t at 6:16 PM on July 21, 2012

Double sniff.
posted by Atreides at 6:27 PM on July 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sending good-luck thoughts... I have kept this open as one of my browser pages on my phone because I keep checking for good news.
posted by trillian at 10:10 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fingers and paws crossed for Tina!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:24 PM on July 23, 2012

We got a phone call this morning from some climbers who found Tina! One of them is going to try to get her in a crate and get her to us. She's being really helpful.

She said she told the Park Service and they told her not to call us. Assholes.

But fingers crossed everyone. More updates in coming days.
posted by k8t at 9:08 AM on July 29, 2012 [28 favorites]

Now that I'm done crying, Walter told me that they had Tina in their arms but then she was scared by something and scurried off.

Climber Jill is now off to buy cat food or tuna and a carrier.

They had apparently lost a pet and had it shipped from Thailand when it was found, so she totally gets it.

They're there for 2 days and Jill isn't climbing like boyfriend is, so doesn't mind doing this.

We're not putting cart in front of horse, but they live in Santa Fe. I guess one of us will fly down to get her. And have them maybe take her to a vet or something? Trying not to jinx anything.
posted by k8t at 9:20 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]



Apparently people were holding and petting her yesterday. They've gotten a box and are gonna try to get her into it.
posted by k8t at 11:51 AM on July 29, 2012 [35 favorites]

TINA!!!! Yaaaay, keep us updated!!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:57 AM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the best thing that has ever happened on the internet. Congrats, k8t, Tina, and fam! Yay for good people.
posted by kelegraph at 11:59 AM on July 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

What great news! YAY! Hope Tina will be home soon. Kudos to climber Jill!
posted by travelwithcats at 1:02 PM on July 29, 2012

Ohohohohoh! Crossing fingers, toes, arms, legs, eyes, um, er, lawsy!!!

No jinx. No jinx.
posted by likeso at 1:45 PM on July 29, 2012

posted by Atreides at 4:13 PM on July 29, 2012

Hiker Jill tried to coax Tina out today to no avail.
She saw her this afternoon tho. They did hold her yesterday.

She's going to try again tomorrow.

A park ranger knows her spot.

I figure if Jill is unsuccessful tomorrow, Walter will fly down there and find the spot and try himself.

More updates tomorrow all. Keep your fingers crossed.
posted by k8t at 5:58 PM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

And because she was as close as a foot away from Tina, I emailed her and suggested a towel or blanket to be thrown over Tina or gloves and pull her by the tail, as per AskMe's earlier recommendations.
posted by k8t at 6:07 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

On an up note, one can fly one way Seattle - Gillete (the tiny airport an hour from Devil's Tower) for less than $300. That's pretty awesome.

Hiker Jill emailed back and said she was really sweet to Tina today but that tomorrow she'd try to be more aggressive.
posted by k8t at 6:51 PM on July 29, 2012

OMG, I am threadsitting so much, but this is my documentation for what has gone down.

I realized that regardless of Hiker Jill's efforts, we'd need to go get Tina either from the local vet (asking Hiker Jill to take her there) or Walter can go look in Tina's hiding spot. So we booked a 1 way ticket. Booking car and KOA now too.
posted by k8t at 7:13 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am so excited for you that Tina has been spotted! Please keep us posted, fingers crossed for a happy ending.
posted by medusa at 7:45 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh gosh, I got goosebumps reading the updates! We're all really pulling for you, your family and Tina, k8t! Fingers are crossed!
posted by deborah at 12:10 AM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fingers crossed!
posted by pickypicky at 12:22 AM on July 30, 2012

Thank you for updating, I've been checking this thread off and on, hoping you had some good news!
posted by gladly at 6:04 AM on July 30, 2012

Best kind of thread sitting. Thank you for the updates!
posted by Atreides at 6:04 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh I hope they get her!
posted by MsMolly at 8:02 AM on July 30, 2012

Holy crappedy crap. This is pretty amazing. I figured after Walter left, there was not much chance for Tina, to be honest with you. I would be happy to be proved wrong. Go go Tina finders!

I'm on the fence about this recommendation, but take it for what it's worth -- I think it might be a good idea to leave food/water for her at her spot, but I worry that it might attract wild animals. Anyone with more knowledge of the area wildlife know if that is a concern. I'm assuming at least coyotes if not bears.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:42 AM on July 30, 2012

This is so awesome! Thank you for updating, and thank you Hiker Jill!!
posted by handful of rain at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2012

Wow, awesome news! Good luck!
posted by desjardins at 9:32 AM on July 30, 2012

OMG so happy to see this. Thank you for updating!! Those photos <3
posted by ghostbikes at 9:38 AM on July 30, 2012

Hiker Jill was not able to coax her out. There is a Ranger who is engaged she said.
Walter's flying there tomorrow AM and will be there by 2pm.

We'll buy heavy gloves and tuna.

He'll wear sunproof clothes and boots, and bring a towel, cat food.

Any other advice?
posted by k8t at 2:09 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any ideas for a gift for Hiker Jill? Fruit basket or something? Or would something more valuable be a good idea?
posted by k8t at 2:14 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can he bring a kitty sedative to put in the cat food? Might make her easier to catch.
posted by cairdeas at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2012

Maybe record your & kiddo's voice, calling for Tina. Make familiar noises (opening a can? shaking dry food box?) Does she like tuna best? Take a flashlight, pics looked a bit like a cave.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:17 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would be careful about the sedative in case she tucks herself away in some little nook you can't get to and sleeps it off. Be sure Walter brings water for himself and for Tina - he'll want to be able to stay out as long as he can, and she'll probably be wanting it too.

For Hiker Jill, I would do a donation to an animal charity (maybe a rescue group local to her home, or a group that specializes in going into crisis situations to help) and also a gift card to an outdoorsy place like REI or Patagonia.

I'd also think about the rangers - edibles might be nice for them, or else at least write a letter to their superiors commending them. I know you said above that you heard they told Hiker Jill not to call, but there might be a crossed wire there or maybe it was just one person and not reflective of all of them. They sounded like they had been helpful to you earlier.

Good luck! Keep us posted!
posted by handful of rain at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

This might sound silly, but if you can't coax her gently out, rather than rattling a can, if she at all comes when called, I'd have your husband YELL for Tina really loud. My cat disappeared for two weeks once and screaming for him eventually got him scrambling out to us.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:25 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Other thing about the sedative - the terrain there is very rocky and essentially a field of giant boulders under the tower. There's be a significant risk of her falling if she got wobbly and was trying to move among the rocks - she could hurt herself and/or get stuck in a really inaccessible spot.
posted by handful of rain at 2:26 PM on July 30, 2012

Also, any chance you can contact that local vet or a rescue group to borrow a cat trap cage? Sitting nearby with food in a cage might be easier than trying to stuff her in a carrier.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:30 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about a donation in her honor to the Santa Fe Humane Society?
posted by pickypicky at 2:32 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good idea PhoBWanKenobi.
posted by k8t at 2:32 PM on July 30, 2012

Also, for a thank-you for Hiker Jill, if you asked her if she would like some postcards from your weird internet friends, I'm sure many of us would be happy to oblige.
posted by cairdeas at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

We're going to Petco in a bit and if the traps are there and it looks doable, we'll buy one.

I want Walter as ready to go as possible once he lands. Running errands in a medium sized Wyoming town sounds like a timesuck. He'll only have 4-5 hours of daylight once he arrives.
posted by k8t at 2:40 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gillette Animal Control is lending a trap! Thanks for the idea PWK!
posted by k8t at 2:46 PM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]

No jinx. No jinx. Lalalalala...

International postcard to Hiker Jill ready to go at your word.
posted by likeso at 2:59 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have Walter take a cat blanket/pillow: whatever cat fur covered thing you might have around the house that Tina and/or your other cat have slept on. Take an unlaundered item of clothing from you and your son too. Maybe Walter can place these items in a trail from the cave to where he wants Tina to go.

A camp chair, preferably the kind with an attached umbrella, so Walter can sit comfortably nearby the cave w/o feeling stressed.

I suspect Tina's finely tuned sense of self-preservation (wow, on her own in the wilderness for 2 1/2 weeks!) is making her super sensitive to any hint of stress/ulterior motives, which is why she was willing to come to Jill the first time but not subsequent times when Jill's goal was to catch her. Encourage Walter to summon as much inner zen as possible.

Keeping my fingers crossed and add me to the list of people willing to send Jill a stranger-from-the-internet thank you card.
posted by jamaro at 4:59 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Totally ready to send snacks to Hiker Jill.
posted by jessamyn at 5:18 PM on July 30, 2012 [11 favorites]

Also, my cat doesn't come when called, but will come if I softly sing Spoon's "I Summon You" in an Elmer Fudd voice.
posted by pickypicky at 5:43 PM on July 30, 2012 [11 favorites]

Hiker Jill is apparently an artist.

She also has a very common name, so I asked her for her physical address. I'll share it with whomever here once I get it. Thank you all. She in her mid-50s based on Facebook stalking and she said she's not very techy (no smartphone, AOL email), so this might be interesting for her.

I'll also do a humane society donation in her name for both Santa Fe and one closest to Devil's Tower and come up with a Patagonia gift card (Walter's former employer, so that's easy.)

Walter's bag is packed (no room for dirty laundry - he has a sleeping bag and a few days worth of clothes). He has audio of us on his phone. I will recommend that he get some good inner zen and pick up a camp chair on the way in.

Thanks again all. I really appreciate all of the support.
More updates tomorrow, I hope.
posted by k8t at 6:38 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

BTW, Tina likes the Internet a lot, really, I mean it.
posted by k8t at 7:03 PM on July 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!!! She looks like she has been having quite an adventure. Fingers crossed everything goes well with Walter tomorrow.
posted by apricot at 7:09 PM on July 30, 2012

Well, Tina can have a hand-sewn silvervine stuffed cat toy from the Internet when she gets home so she better come on out of that cave and get in the carrier.
posted by jamaro at 7:11 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

I can't look away from that first picture of Tina. It's mesmerizing. Crossing everything that Walter finds her and brings her home safely. She blends into the rocks so beautifully, it's no wonder she's been hard to spot. It's probably helped keep her safe too.
posted by jvilter at 7:12 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

C'mon, Tina!
posted by subbes at 7:52 PM on July 30, 2012

Fingers super crossed - ready to send Hiker Jill thank you notes!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:46 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tongue Tina is now on my desktop.
posted by deborah at 8:50 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

You know how I know I'm allergic to cats? My eyes are watering just reading this thread.
posted by knile at 12:55 AM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]

Hiker Jill gets a print of Tongue Tina signed by all four of my cats. Also I'll kick in bucks to a Patagonia gift card. Fingers crossed.
posted by firstdrop at 6:32 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you think Hiker Jill would like a MetaFilter account? We lahk her kine 'roun hyuh.

(still lalala-ing)
posted by likeso at 11:18 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hiker Jill does not seem very technologically inclined, but the idea of an invite is very sweet.
posted by k8t at 11:50 AM on July 31, 2012

Maybe at least send her a link to this page so she can see the love.
posted by jvilter at 11:54 AM on July 31, 2012

(Or be creeped out by it.)
posted by delfuego at 1:02 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh wow wow! I didn't check this for a few days and then today saw all these updates! Hope everything goes well today!
posted by trillian at 2:45 PM on July 31, 2012

Walter's trying to find the spot.

Does this (taken by Walter a few minutes ago) look similar to these photos taken by Hiker Jill? There was a huge rainstorm 2 days ago that could explain the moss. And it is possible that Jill threw a bottle down there to scare Tina out.

(Walter is calling Jill, BTW.)
posted by k8t at 2:58 PM on July 31, 2012

BTW, I asked Jill if she had GPS to get the coordinates. (For any future readers trying to attempt such a rescue.)
posted by k8t at 3:05 PM on July 31, 2012

There is dry moss in Jill's photos, too, but I'm having trouble comparing the rocks due to the framing of the new photo. Maybe if he shot from father away?
posted by Scram at 3:12 PM on July 31, 2012

Yeah, the framing is throwing me, too. But I keep looking at the shapes of the rocks and they don't seem to match up. Sharper edges are smoother in one, smoother is sharper in the other...
posted by likeso at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2012

I agree likeso. I'm hoping that Walter's radio silence right now is a good sign that he's talking to Jill (or the ranger that apparently was told the location.)
posted by k8t at 3:16 PM on July 31, 2012

Walter just posted to Facebook: "Tina is talking to me!"
posted by k8t at 3:34 PM on July 31, 2012 [52 favorites]

Oh yay, I have been so worried about your poor kitty, I hope he catches her asap!
posted by leesh at 3:35 PM on July 31, 2012

Oh my.

Control. Focus.
posted by likeso at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hope my kid keeps on napping until she's rescued. I have 2 screens with email, Facebook, Twitter, and Metafilter open here, plus people texting. #teamtina
posted by k8t at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2012

All systems go.
posted by likeso at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2012

Everybody, concentrate! "Here, kitty kitty kitty... here kitty!" Into Walter's arms!
posted by Scram at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

Walter called: He has pet her, had her almost in his lap, but when he went to grab her, she got skittish.

He's taking a little break (cell signal is poor in Tina's cave), but left the cat trap down there.

He's gonna go back. I instructed him to just do the throw-the-towel and jump on her thing.

Fingers crossed.
posted by k8t at 4:12 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

Meow! Go Tina! : )
posted by limeonaire at 4:12 PM on July 31, 2012

Food in the trap? Yummy stinky food?
posted by Scram at 4:14 PM on July 31, 2012

Come on, Tina! I'm all tense, reading these updates!
posted by sarcasticah at 4:15 PM on July 31, 2012

Oh, Tina, a little bit of tuna... oh, kitty, the towel smells of home... yes, a nice cozy safe carrier in the shade... such scritchings later!
posted by likeso at 4:15 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

He has a ton of treats, but he is worried not to get her so full that she goes back into the cave.

BTW, he says that she looks like she may have lost a pound or so, but nothing huge.
posted by k8t at 4:17 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

And yes, he used the treats to lure her out before.
posted by k8t at 4:17 PM on July 31, 2012

C'mon Tina!
posted by Atreides at 5:17 PM on July 31, 2012

Okay, Walter, break's over. Tina's Rescue, take two.
posted by likeso at 5:33 PM on July 31, 2012

Come on Tina, be a good kitty...
posted by sarcasticah at 5:35 PM on July 31, 2012

Walter called again. 2nd try she was more skittish than before and wouldn't come out of her cave. So he's going to go back down to the base of the tower, get some food, check into the KOA, and go back up. He did leave the cat trap full of the yummiest treats and he left water for her.

Everyone keep their fingers crossed.
posted by k8t at 5:39 PM on July 31, 2012

A photo from Walter!
posted by k8t at 5:42 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]

Look at the treats, Tina. Don't they look good? Go on, take some, they're there for you...
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 5:45 PM on July 31, 2012

Heh, she looks like she's all "MY cave! It's my sekret hideout!"
posted by sarcasticah at 5:47 PM on July 31, 2012 [11 favorites]

aw, she's talking to him!
posted by kelegraph at 5:48 PM on July 31, 2012

I suggested upthread to catch her by the tail, which is what you do when you are chasing a cat. But now if she's allowing him to pet her, he can grab her by the nape of the neck, where there is a lot of loose skin. Just pet her head, move to the neck, and suddenly/authoritatively grab a fold of skin and immediately lift the cat into the air. It may seem painful but IT IS NOT; that's is how mother cats carry their young. Bonus: cats are relatively immobile while being carried by the neck, meaning he won't have to deal with a lot of fighting/scratching.

Good luck!
posted by acidic at 5:49 PM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]

Part of me was hoping that Tina would just magically appear on your doorstep and it would be one of those fantastic "pet finds family" stories. Now, instead, it's turned into a fantastic "family finds pet" story. Can't wait for the newest update!
posted by Atreides at 6:04 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like Tina isn't done with her hiking vacation just yet.

I'm on the edge of my seat here.
posted by medusa at 6:08 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


When it comes time to get her in the towel, if Walter's not confident enough to be able to grip her by the neck, what works well for me is to underhook the cat's body with an arm, then lift, hugging her back to your chest.

She'll start kicking, but the trick is to keep the legs pointed away from you so they don't have anything to hook and push off of, rather than to try to lock them up. Cats are pretty helpless in this position as long as you watch their legs.

Then, the next chance she'll have to escape is when he wraps her in the towel. For this part, I think it's best if you start by winding the towel around the legs, then when they're secure, start going behind her back. Walter's arm may get trapped in there, but that's OK - you've got the cat.

Good luck, and I salute the persistence of everyone involved (including Tina a little bit, for some weird reason)!
posted by ignignokt at 6:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh my god! I'm so, so happy for you guys and so relieved that I thought to check my recent activity tonight to see the updates. We're about to witness a happy ending!
posted by something something at 6:18 PM on July 31, 2012

This is awesome! It's been a few days since I checked in on this thread -- then a few minutes ago I found all of this going on! Sending EVERY good wish and hope for Tina's safe return!
posted by Boogiechild at 6:20 PM on July 31, 2012

How's the light holding up? When's sundown?
posted by likeso at 6:27 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walter just posted this photo to Facebook (not sure when he took it). It broke my heart.
posted by k8t at 6:29 PM on July 31, 2012

She looks pretty skinny in this photo compared to this, a day before she got lost.
posted by k8t at 6:30 PM on July 31, 2012

Oh, baby. Kitty.
posted by likeso at 6:30 PM on July 31, 2012

Oh, I'm tearing up! TINA!!! Grab her, Walter! Grab her!
posted by apricot at 6:31 PM on July 31, 2012

grab a cat bro
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:32 PM on July 31, 2012 [15 favorites]

Looks like sunset is 8:24 Mountain, so we have about an hour.
posted by k8t at 6:32 PM on July 31, 2012

Okay - looks like that photo is from earlier today. He emailed and said: "No, just checked into cabin. Needed to lie down and have a beer then will go get dinner. It is still 94 degrees so waiting until sunset."

He has a headlamp and a new flashlight, BTW.
posted by k8t at 6:33 PM on July 31, 2012

Hoo boy. If the next attempt fails, I'm thinking the trap will have greater chance of success overnight...
posted by likeso at 6:34 PM on July 31, 2012

WRT to acidic's neck move: "That's the first move then will use the pillowcase.

I would be very happy to go back up there tonight and see her in the trap.

The cabin is super basic. No towels, bedding, AC, but could keep her here. Would be super happy to just drive out of here in the AM with her."
posted by k8t at 6:34 PM on July 31, 2012

God, yes.
posted by likeso at 6:40 PM on July 31, 2012

I asked Walter to describe the area (i.e., WTF didn't just grab her?)

"Tons and tons of boulders, so lots of crawly spaces and holes. Very hard for me to set the trap - I had to hang upside down to do it.

I heard her calling and I didn't know what direction it was coming from."
posted by k8t at 6:40 PM on July 31, 2012

You know what, hon? He has totally redeemed himself.
posted by likeso at 6:41 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

Ummm, Tina looks really pissed off.

(Walter has a crappy data signal, so the photos are small and coming slowly.)
posted by k8t at 6:43 PM on July 31, 2012

Wow, I just came back kind of randomly (a random post on FB) not expecting to see an update. I'm holding out hope! (A cat of mine disappeared in unusual circumstances once as a kid, so I'm rooting for you. That said, by the time it magically reappeared, I had repaired my broken heart.)
posted by wintersweet at 6:45 PM on July 31, 2012

Heh! But the tail's up. That's good. She's still willing to engage. Probably cussing his butt.

"Yeah, yeah, you show up now all sweetie-pie with tuna and towels and treats. 'Oh Tina pussums, have some a little tidbit.' Well, YOU LEFT ME HERE. Just hopped in your little car and DROVE OFF. So what if I went walkabout? I am Cat. You serve me."
posted by likeso at 6:47 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]

Walter's eating and I'm going to try to force my child to get away from the video babysitter and go to bed. More updates in a few hours. Any other capture ideas welcome - I'll be on AskMe via phone.
posted by k8t at 6:48 PM on July 31, 2012

Paws crossed for Tina! Sam Katz and I are rooting for you guys.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

If Tina REALLY responds to your voice, then Walter could always dial you, then drop the phone inside the trap. You could then attempt to sweet talk her into the cage.
posted by Atreides at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2012

Hang tough, hon. We're here.
posted by likeso at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2012

@Atreides, we recorded a ton of here-kitty-kitties last night. Tina never was much of a come-when-called kitty though. :-/
posted by k8t at 6:51 PM on July 31, 2012

It's a tough situation for her as well, she's torn between the wild-animal-survival-mode and sweet-lap-kitty. Hope the trap will work.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:53 PM on July 31, 2012

Oh my gosh! To have her so close, but still not have her! Must be beyond frustrating for all of you. Sending best wishes for success your way.

Maybe Walter could douse his hands and maybe even his t-shirt with juice of can o' tuna. Or maybe spritz a towel with it, and then when Tina comes up to sniff towel, carefully grab Tina and wrap in towel. Sorry, just throwing stuff out there, hoping something works. Does he have someone else with him standing close by with crate who can help him get Tina in the crate once he's grabbed her?
posted by marsha56 at 6:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe a bigger towel, like beach-sized would be easier than bath-sized.
posted by marsha56 at 6:58 PM on July 31, 2012

Is there any hope of getting one of those loop-on-a-stick things animal control uses? Maybe he can grab her with something like that?
posted by sarcasticah at 7:05 PM on July 31, 2012

Come on, Tina! I'm all tense, reading these updates!

No kidding!

I have scars on my hands from an unhappy cat, but if he's willing to risk the damage and can grab even a leg he can probably reel her in.
posted by Forktine at 7:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was thinking of asking Walter to ask the KOA if anyone wants to get paid to come help. Scary for Tina or useful?
posted by k8t at 7:13 PM on July 31, 2012

Mrs. exogenous reports from personal experience that the most effective bait for a cat trap is sardines. Good luck!
posted by exogenous at 7:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the person is quiet and hangs back and just holds the carrier open at the right time, it might work. I mean, she was coming up to strangers for scritches, right?
posted by likeso at 7:17 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the off chance Walter is not able to capture Tina while he is there, finding a responsible local who would be willing to continue the attempt for pay, and making sure they know where Tina is and what he's tried to far, seems like a great idea.

And having an extra set of eyes and brains can't hurt in what must be a very stressful experience for all concerned!
posted by Scram at 7:18 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

No experience here, but I was thinking that someone else could hang back with crate, but then once Walter managed to grab any part of Tina, tail, leg, scruff, whatever, that it would be enormously helpful to have a 2nd person to bring over the crate and to help get Tina in it, especially working in such a rocky, craggy terrain.
posted by marsha56 at 7:21 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hang in there you guys!
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:51 PM on July 31, 2012

Advice on going in to grab her with hands and/or a towel, if that seems like an option: he needs to psych himself up and run through the process in his mind ahead of time, being prepared to hold on tight no matter how hard she fights.

This means he needs to be mentally prepared for the fact that he could easily get bitten, in which case, the next stop after Tina is safely contained should be urgent care. Cat bites are no joke, but as long as you take them seriously, they won't mess you up. If he does get punctured, he should try to immediately rinse and vigorously scrub any wound with soap and water, disinfectant if it's available. When I got bit, I was in the ER within an hour, where my bite was scrubbed out with what looked like a plastic vegetable brush. Too late: it still got infected. Next time, I'll scrub first, drive to the ER second.

And grab the scruff of the neck if at all possible.
posted by Scram at 7:58 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Good luck!! BUT NO MORE PHOTOS WALTER! Just grab her (and recruit someone to help if possible)!

If she is getting close, have you thought of using some kind of box/ bag/ pillowcase to scoop her up in?
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 8:07 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having a second person will be valuable for when he grabs her. The other person can throw a towel/blanket over her and both of them can shove her into the carrier/box/whatever.

What about those catch poles that animal control uses? Perhaps one can be borrowed? This is a random idea; I couldn't find a video of it being used to catch a cat (only dogs).
posted by desjardins at 8:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Scram, he does have work gloves and thick long sleeved shirts. But if he's bit, I'll let him know.

I agree he needs to visualize this.
posted by k8t at 8:21 PM on July 31, 2012

BTW, he has pillow cases, sleeping bag sack and not a plastic carrier but a small fabric carrier for airplane... Harder to toss her into.
No pet store there, but I'll suggest he gets a box.
posted by k8t at 8:26 PM on July 31, 2012

Gloves will mess with his dexterity and make Tina more cautious. I've pulled cats off roofs, from under beds and from out of crawl spaces. The best tactic is to take your best chance and grab and then hold on tight. Do not let go no matter what. Get your body over the little beast or double up around her. Do not let go. Walter is bigger, tougher and smarter than Tina and he should realize he can do this. He should expect the full force of Tina's ingratitude but this should not stop him for even one teensy nanosecond. And a second person or a detachment of the National Guard is a great idea.
posted by firstdrop at 8:36 PM on July 31, 2012 [13 favorites]

Cats are so freaking weird. We were sure that one of our indoor cats managed to sneak outside from the downstairs laundry room, because we looked, called set food out, everything, but no response. Then after a few days my daughter had an inspiration and went outside to peek in through a Window, and damn if she didn’t see little Pickles emerge from her secret hiding spot!

The moral is that Walter may have to pull back to get her to think it's safe to emerge.
posted by jasper411 at 9:47 PM on July 31, 2012

HE GOT HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by k8t at 10:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [196 favorites]

Hurrah! Oh I am so happy for you folks!!! This is a great moment for cats and humans alike!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 10:19 PM on July 31, 2012

YAY!!!! I'm so glad! Yay, Walter! Yay, Tina!
posted by sarcasticah at 10:21 PM on July 31, 2012

Thank sweet baby cheesus! I couldn't handle much more suspense.
posted by ilona at 10:21 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good job, Walter,k8t, and everyone who helped out! Hooray!
posted by palegirl at 10:23 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am SO happy for all of you! <3 <3 <3
posted by wintersweet at 10:25 PM on July 31, 2012

posted by Scram at 10:25 PM on July 31, 2012

YAY! Oh, that's wonderful! I'm so happy for you guys -- especially for Tina! YAY!!! :D
posted by Boogiechild at 10:27 PM on July 31, 2012

Hurray for Tina coming home! Checked on the thread tonight not expecting much news - wow! So happy for you all, especially the rescued kitty!

Now that she's on her way home, be prepared for some settling-in time when she's back. One of my cats gets all pissy at the others if she or one of them are away from the house for only an hour or two. Might take the kitties a little bit to get used to each other again.
posted by dorey_oh at 10:29 PM on July 31, 2012

So happy to hear this, YAYYYYY! Tina's coming home!!!
posted by trillian at 10:30 PM on July 31, 2012

Hip hip hooray !! Whole thread flagged for awesomeness.
posted by marsha56 at 10:31 PM on July 31, 2012

I'm not going to do the 'resolved' tag until they're home but...

I think this is what went down:
He was almost done for the night (it is 11:15pm there) and put the cat trap close to her cave. He heard some rustling near the trap, so he looked back to check it out.

I'm going to have to ask him again (I was half asleep) but I think that he grabbed her by the neck and a leg and threw her into the trap.

He's bleeding a little - I think from cutting himself on some rocks - but not too bad.

I'll ask him to type out his story for your all's consumption if he isn't too tired.


He's driving back to the campsite now (he rented a barebones cabin).

He said that he isn't very comfortable flying back with her because she might be a total asshole going through security, whereas if he buys a plastic crate and drives back, he doesn't have to worry about that.

Financially, flight on Thursday evening is about $300. He says he can drive in 2 days in the car he rented in Wyoming. (He just did this drive 2 weeks ago.)

He's going to call me in about 15 minutes to sort out travel.

He isn't going to take Tina to the vet until the morning - it is an hour and 15 minutes away. I don't know what his plan is for tonight - to keep Tina in the trap or let her loose in the cabin. But he does have tons of cat food - no litter supplies though.

Finally, she's coming "home" to a brand-new house. We already have the place swamped with Feliway diffusers.
posted by k8t at 10:32 PM on July 31, 2012 [15 favorites]

Photo in the trap
posted by k8t at 10:34 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]

Big congratulations you guys, you win for perseverance!

If he can, Walter should fold several sections of newspaper to fit the bottom of the cage. That will at least absorb some of the pee, should she go. He should also cover the cage, as that will tend to calm her down.
posted by jvilter at 10:49 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Forgot to say, the newspaper will also make her little feets feel better than that bare wire.
posted by jvilter at 10:50 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walter's uploading better photos now.

And this is what it looked like right before she was caught.
posted by k8t at 10:55 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by k8t at 10:57 PM on July 31, 2012

Walter found a newspaper machine - thanks for the idea jvilter.
posted by k8t at 10:58 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

AW YISS! This feels like the end of Ghostbusters! I'm gonna go high five my cat!
posted by ignignokt at 10:59 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tina loves nuzzling on stuff... even rocks.
posted by k8t at 11:00 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

HA! HA! YES! Widdle kitteh walkies? NOPE. NOT ANYMORE.

Oh, k8t. :))) hug everybody for me.
posted by likeso at 11:16 PM on July 31, 2012

And as we told our 3.5 year old that Daddy was going on a trip to talk to Tina to see if she wanted to come home from her hiking trip, tomorrow I'll get to tell him that she's on her way. (The original framing of Tina being lost was that she decided to take a hiking trip and she may or not not come back from it depending on how much she likes it.)

(Audio of him asking her to come home.)
posted by k8t at 11:20 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

OMG YAY TINA! It is so great to find a happy ending!! :)
posted by Joh at 11:21 PM on July 31, 2012

I am seriously going to smiling all day. Um, which starts now. Off to work I go!

posted by likeso at 11:24 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes! Cat story! Epic! Happy ending! Walter! Hero! Minor injuries! Happy toddler! Reunited family! Tina! Yay! Yahoo!
posted by firstdrop at 11:37 PM on July 31, 2012

Walter's story:

"Woke up at 4 for my 4:30 cab for my 7:15 flight to SLC then the connection to GCC. The landing was super fun, when you combine NE Wyoming winds with a prop. Got the Hav-a-Hart box (Thanks to Gillette Animal Control!). One more stop for sunscreen and water and I was off on the quick (on I-90 in Wyoming) trip to Devils Tower.

Once I got there, I tried following the directions which Ranger Joe gave me but couldn’t quite find the spot. Knowing it was Joe’s day off, I called Jill. Her BF mentioned a snakebox, and once I found the box, I knew I was there.

I found Tina almost immediately and she was pretty friendly, almost to the point of getting in my lap, but not quite. She did get skittish after a bit and then moved away. I waited a bit, and then it seemed she wouldn’t come any closer than a few feet. By this point, it was 6:30 and I’d been there since 3. Oh, and of course it was pushing 100, but since I wore my sun hat and long sleeves, I felt much better prepared for that than the last time.

At 6:30, I need a break so headed to the KOA to get my cabin and have some dinner. I was bummed because if I had caught her immediately, I theoretically could have driven back to Seattle by tomorrow. While I ate, the dining room was watching “Close Encounters”. They show it every night at 7. One line stuck out to me while eating my fried chicken – an army office looked up at Devils Tower and said “there’s a million places to hide up there.” I said to myself “No Shit.”

I got back up there just as the full moon was rising. Knowing that it would be more difficult at nighttime and how skittish she had been, I had food plates everywhere and resolved to sit back and see if I could get her in the trap on her own. She never came close, even though I was calling her almost constantly. Sometimes she answered, most of the time she didn’t. Finally, at 11 PM, just as I was going to set the trap out and quit for the night, I got in closer to her space. I put some food out and she came and got it. I put some more out closer to my foot, thinking, if she gets that close, I have to go for the neck (even though the trap at this point was 8 feet away across 2 boulders).

I went for the neck and then she flipped over and I had her pinned against a rock, then at one point she was in a crack where I had only her leg for a second, but I managed to grab her neck again, then turn her around and grab her back with my other hand. Now I had her immobilized with her legs away from me. I sprang over to the trap and put her in it and then tipped it to disorient her. As I did that I flipped the door closed and she was officially in cat trap.

Now we just have an 1100 mile drive left!"
posted by k8t at 11:38 PM on July 31, 2012 [52 favorites]

Yes! This is fantastic! Now let's hear it from Tina's POV!
posted by spiderskull at 12:00 AM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

From Tina's POV:

Adventure!!! Cool!!!!

Oh shit. I'm hungry. This is very bad.


I love you.
posted by ambient2 at 12:53 AM on August 1, 2012 [49 favorites]

(Audio of him asking her to come home.)

Oh, that's so sweet. I'm SOOOOOOOO happy that you'll be able to tell him it worked, and that Tina is on her way home, thanks also to his brave daddy.

(for those as technologically challenged as myself, once you get to that page, click first on "Memo", and listen. Afterwards, hit back button, then click on "Memo(1)" for more cuteness.)
posted by marsha56 at 3:11 AM on August 1, 2012

This has been better than CSI or the like! Congratulations. It's a beautiful thing to see the effort put forth here.

If he can, it would probably be good for Walter to remove the posters regarding Tina; if others see them and think Tina is still missing, that would be sad. Getting going might be the priority, though, so perhaps the rangers can help with this.
posted by analog at 4:10 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hooray! What a relief! She's going to have quite a story for your other cat!
posted by apricot at 5:16 AM on August 1, 2012

Yessss! Go Team Tina!

You should totally have her "O Hai I'm In A Cave" photo framed as a memento from Tina's hiking trip - or sent as a postcard to your house :)
posted by ghostbikes at 5:34 AM on August 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

posted by leesh at 5:37 AM on August 1, 2012

posted by trip and a half at 5:37 AM on August 1, 2012

EPIC thread, would read again. (So happy that this worked out!)
posted by divisjm at 5:39 AM on August 1, 2012

posted by kjs4 at 5:42 AM on August 1, 2012

Hooray! I'm so happy to see that Tina's on her way home! What a story.
posted by serialcomma at 5:56 AM on August 1, 2012

So happy she is finally coming home!!! You know, a local paper (either there or where you live now) might love to cover this as a great happy-ending story...
posted by trillian at 6:16 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

So glad to see this!!!!
posted by leslies at 6:16 AM on August 1, 2012

Hooray for Tina, and her amazing family! I'm so excited for you, for your kiddo, and for Walter.

And yes, I vote for "O Hai I'm In A Cave" to be this year's holiday card. Or maybe you can just send everyone you know a "What Tina Did On Her Summer Vacation" letter.
posted by inging at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was so excited to read the good news this morning! Did you ever find out if Hiker Jill would be okay with postcards from internet strangers? Because I am ready to go with postcard if we're doing this.
posted by jessypie at 6:51 AM on August 1, 2012

This is absolutely fantastic, what a great story with an even better ending.

There have been about a million times I've wished we could talk to cats and ask them questions about what they're thinking/doing/etc. This is about 20 of them.

Congratulations! Well down Walter and Tina!
posted by bowmaniac at 6:57 AM on August 1, 2012

I have been lurk-watching this thread from the start and can say, quite confidently, that it is the best thing ever. Yay Tina! Yay Walter!
posted by ninjakins at 7:11 AM on August 1, 2012

Now Tina's gonna be all like, "Yeah, I'm from the hood, meotches."
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:14 AM on August 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

awesome! so happy it worked out so well!
posted by qnarf at 7:16 AM on August 1, 2012

At the vet this am: http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/katypearce/7691274120/
Video of opening to her cave: http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/katypearce/7691207568/
posted by k8t at 8:02 AM on August 1, 2012

posted by jquinby at 8:07 AM on August 1, 2012

Hiker Jill doesn't want to give me her physical address. I appreciate everyone's desire to send her stranger postcards.
If she changes her mind, I'll let people know.
posted by k8t at 8:12 AM on August 1, 2012

Yay!! This is so great! (Also, yay for me, too! Now I can get some work done instead of being distracted by this thread!)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:17 AM on August 1, 2012

For those still reading... I talked to Walter this AM.

Last night Tina howled and rattled the cat trap all night, possibly bothering the other campers. He closed all the windows and doors and slept on the cabin porch. He got about 4 hours of sleep (again).

This AM he got up at 5ish and drove to the bigger city with WalMart and Petco and most importantly, the vet.

Vet office, who were all anxiously awaiting them after my phone call yesterday, was pleasantly surprised at how good she looks. She's 8 lbs. (she was 9 and change... Walter has the records though, so I can't check). She only had 1 tick and it wasn't in her ear.

Vet gave Walter some sedatives (for Tina) and recommended a topical tick and flea treatment just in case.

Walter returned the cat trap to animal control and they were happy about the outcome. He bought a normal plastic carrier for her for the ride home.

Walter's hand is pretty swollen from scratches but the vet said it looked okay. I told Walter to try to go to urgent care though if he can.

Tina's been pretty chill in the car (thanks sedative).

He'll be in Butte mid-afternoon to sleep at a motel and get supplies for Tina.
posted by k8t at 9:02 AM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

Walter just uploaded videos and photos at time of rescue.
posted by k8t at 9:48 AM on August 1, 2012

Yes. I told my son this morning that Tina was coming home. He knew that Daddy was going on a trip to go talk to Tina about coming home.

So this morning I told him that Daddy and Tina were on their way home. We watched some of the videos of Tina in her cave. He asked if she was scared of bears (answer: maybe) and what she ate during her hike. I told him that she ate squirrels while she was hiking.

He also went and told Bachik (other cat) that Tina was coming home and told her to get ready to share her food.

More questions have been coming out throughout the morning and my kid, who needs lots of reassurance about everything, will probably keep asking.

Also, we bought some betta fish at Petco while we were picking up Tina rescue supplies. He said he wants to introduce Tina to the fish (Phinneus and Calliou).
posted by k8t at 10:15 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not that I think you can't recognize your own cat, but... Did the vet double-check the chip?
posted by maryr at 10:46 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Totally crying over here. Congrats, k8t. So happy for you and your family. Tina is so lucky to have people like you and Walter. This is honestly the best story ever.
posted by kelegraph at 11:00 AM on August 1, 2012

The chip didn't work so they rechipped her at the vet this AM.

She's Tina.
posted by k8t at 11:05 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

The chip didn't work so they rechipped her at the vet this AM.

Wow, that's a good wake-up call to have the chip scanned on routine vet visits. Tina should star in a PSA.
posted by jamaro at 11:46 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

If anyone wanted to send something nice to Hiker Jill I could give you her email address maybe? MeMail me. But please be sure to write "A friend of Katy and Walter's who followed the saga" or something as to not freak her out.
posted by k8t at 11:48 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is awesome.

About Hiker Jill, I think it would be freaky for her to get emails from random people.
Maybe you could get us all to send postcards to *you*, and you could collect them into a package and send them to - for example - her local humane society (along with donation) and arrange for her to pick them up there?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:50 AM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

I like that idea of the package, LobsterMitten.
posted by cairdeas at 11:53 AM on August 1, 2012

@LobsterMitten - that's a good idea. (I just electronically donated to her local HS, but could do it again.)

If you want to do this, please memail me for my address.
posted by k8t at 11:54 AM on August 1, 2012

She appears to be represented by a gallery in Santa Fe, maybe the gallery would be willing to forward fan mail to her?
posted by jamaro at 11:54 AM on August 1, 2012

Yeah, once I collect them all I'll figure out where to send them to. Thanks all.
posted by k8t at 11:55 AM on August 1, 2012

Also, a link if anyone wants to make a donation to Gillette Animal Control/Animal Shelter (who loaned the trap).
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:10 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thanks LobsterMitten - I couldn't find that. I'll send a check!
posted by k8t at 12:24 PM on August 1, 2012

Update, for those now addicted. Walter's hand is effed up. Luckily however, there is an urgent care coincidentally across the street from the motel I booked him in Butte. He should be there in an hour.
posted by k8t at 12:28 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yikes - hoping they can clean him up and give him good antibio's.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:01 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not to be alarmist, but this: Oregon man recovering from rare case of plague
posted by ColdChef at 1:13 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

It sounded like his hand got scraped on rocks, so the plague thing is probably not on the "likely" list.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:18 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tell Walter to take good care of himself. He's got a whole internet of people cheering for him. What a great husband, daddy, and kitty-cat rescuer too. And thanks for keeping us all updated. I don't think I'll be able to tear myself away from this thread until we see pics of Tina and Walter safely home.
posted by marsha56 at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yay for Tina! I hope Walter's hand is ok.
posted by medusa at 2:37 PM on August 1, 2012

Walter's hand is pretty swollen still but he got antibiotics.

Email from Walter: 'Tina is sitting in my lap snuggling like nothing happened.'

Anyone animal-smarter than me know if there are any diseases we should be worried about?
posted by k8t at 5:32 PM on August 1, 2012

Happy cat
posted by k8t at 5:42 PM on August 1, 2012 [13 favorites]

Do you mean diseases for his hand? Did she bite/scratch the hand?

Or do you mean diseases for the cat?
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:06 PM on August 1, 2012

I am so glad this worked out for the best. I was lucky, I knew the ending but I think I'd be a mess if it was ongoing.

When my cats got out I was a complete mess, and they were only hiding under the house for a few days.

I must get my cats chipped.
posted by Mezentian at 6:10 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh So YAY!
posted by zengargoyle at 7:17 PM on August 1, 2012

Cat diseases.
posted by k8t at 7:47 PM on August 1, 2012

Slight snafu. Walter rented a car at the tiny airport near Devil's Tower. He's taking the car back to Seattle. The local Hertz guy is a franchisee and says that we'll be charged $750 if we return it to Seattle.
None of this was in the paperwork at Hertz in Wyoming nor was it on the Hertz website Walter booked through.

Walter threatened to dispute the charge and the local Hertz guy said he's going to report the car stole if the charge is disputed.

Uggghhhh. I want to call but I don't know if it'll help. Any ideas?
posted by k8t at 7:50 PM on August 1, 2012

My S.O., who rents lots of cars, says you have to be really specific that you are renting the car for a one-way trip. But that you should be able to return the car to a non-franchisee Hertz place, and they will charge you a fee but probably not $750. Call a non-franchisee place.
posted by zennie at 7:59 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hm... or he $750 could be for mileage that wouldn't have been charged if you'd returned it to the same place (says S.O. while rolling his eyes).
posted by zennie at 8:14 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe everyone who wants to send a card to Hiker Jill should call the Hertz guy instead.
posted by liketitanic at 8:15 PM on August 1, 2012

I would totally be down for some good internet pressuring, but the franchise owner will be down a car in his fleet if he doesn't get it back and who knows how much the franchise would ding him for to get the car back to him.

In other words the situation sucks but we don't know the franchise owner's situation, so I think a ton of people calling him isn't necessarily the right thing to do...
posted by cairdeas at 8:21 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe the franchise owner will let Walter drive the car to the next big town and then he can get a longer, one way rental there?
posted by jvilter at 8:38 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Walter finally talked to someone at Hertz about how when he booked through hertz.com it never said anything about franchisees. Walter specifically booked through a no-fee-assessed for 1 way for flexibility.
The customer service person was super nice (finally) and agreed with him that the website was deceptive. And they put in a complaint about the guy in Gillette.

What will happen remains to be seen.

I totally understand that the franchisee got screwed here, but Hertz national shouldn't list these locations on their search without some sort of footnote.

No internet vigilantes yet...

Now if only I'd give you the Twitter handle of the 18 year old that said he shot Tina... (I already sent a strongly worded letter to his coach and athletic director... Who forced him to give a (non) apology). Yet his Twitter handle still is full of derogatory statements.
posted by k8t at 8:53 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm pushing Walter to get a different car tomorrow tho.
posted by k8t at 8:54 PM on August 1, 2012

On an upnote, I got super nice and prompt emails from the National Parks Service replying to my email commending the helpful rangers. They're getting copies put in their employment files, I hope.
posted by k8t at 8:59 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

It can sometimes be cheaper to rent a van or pickup from Uhaul or similar for a one-way trip. They appear to be set up better to deal with it than a regular car rental place.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:01 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

I hope that the Hertz situation turns out OK, but if it doesn't (and advocacy won't solve things), I'm pretty sure that some of us would be up for donating to the cause!
posted by analog at 3:35 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heck, maybe there are some MeFites round that way who might wanna road trip!
posted by subbes at 7:14 AM on August 2, 2012

Having now seen the view from Tina's rock, I'm now excited about the story that she will tell you about how the aliens callled to her, how she was making tiny towers out of friskies for months, and how she met Louis Malle.
posted by pickypicky at 11:01 AM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

We're at Hertz in Seattle. Begging the local Hertz guy to help us while 3.5 snuggles with Tina's carrier on the floor.

Tina's meow is a little strained. Walter said she slept the entire car ride today.
posted by k8t at 5:00 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

3.5 = 3.5 year old child
posted by k8t at 5:14 PM on August 2, 2012

Tina in Seattle = victory, I hope?
posted by Atreides at 5:22 PM on August 2, 2012

More details from Walter:

- Tina got water from a flat rock above her cave that had pooling water after the rain.
- The snake box wasn't a real snake box, but the box Hiker Jill was using to try to capture her.
- Tina's cave was 50 feet from where she escaped. It was a second set of rocks above where Walter was originally looking.
posted by k8t at 5:32 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

And Tina is home!
posted by k8t at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2012 [13 favorites]

And Tina is home!

In that photo, she is all "Man, my cave was way better than this place!"
posted by Forktine at 5:44 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tina's meow is a little strained.

Probably the sedative.
posted by jon1270 at 6:32 PM on August 2, 2012

We got home and she hid for an hour.
I came down to the basement and tapped a can of cat food and she came out and sat in my lap right away. Purring at a volume I've never heard before.
I showed her where the food and litter is in this house, we sat for a bit and talked. (No insight into how she survived though.)
I took her back over to the food.
I have never heard a cat eat so noisily and quickly as she is right now.

Then Bachik spotted Tina.
posted by k8t at 6:58 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

So glad this ended up happy.

When my husband's dog, Rosie, was a puppy, she ended up out in the woods off leash with his parents' older lab. The two dogs ran happily all day, but at some point the older dog ditched Rosie and came home. Rosie stayed out in the woods, lost for three days until she turned up on a neighbors' porch.

To this day Rosie holds a bit of a grudge against the older dog. Maybe Bachick encouraged Tina to go on a walkabout...
posted by teleri025 at 7:06 PM on August 2, 2012

Time for the resolved tag.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:51 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow! The grin on your little guy's face just melted me. I'm SOOOOOOOO happy for you all!
posted by marsha56 at 10:36 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hooray! All's well that ends well!

That pic that marsha56 posted made me grin!

I won't say this was the best Ask.Meta ever, but it has to rate somewhere up there, right near er... Missing Grandmother? Missing cousin? Some rallying of the MeFi Army to find someone on a bus. I think Jessamyn saved the day in that one.
posted by Mezentian at 12:11 AM on August 3, 2012

I'm still smiling, k8t. :)
But some loose ends need tying off:
1. How is Walter's hand?
2. Has Bachik reconciled with Tina yet?
3. What was the resolution reached (if any) with Hertz?

I am just assuming all else is well to good to great - your boy's smile and Tina's purr! - and yes please send me an address memail so I can post a card for Hiker Jill.
posted by likeso at 3:39 AM on August 3, 2012

Tina was super cuddly last night. Slept with us all night and purred gratefully. I don't think any of us believe that she is home.

She is a big chattier than she was before. She was never that meow-y, but now seems to be much more frequent.

She's not being skittish at all.

I wish I could know what she did and how she survived.

1. Walter's hand is pretty cut up and swollen. He can't grip at all. But the urgent care doc said that it should be better by the end of the weekend.
2. Bachik is sort of confused. But both cats have been friendly and eating and stuff.
3. Nothing yet. Walter's calling the branch manager this AM.

Thanks again all!
posted by k8t at 9:47 AM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

I blogged the story of Tina on my professional blog - a lot of people want to know what happened. I didn't name MetaFilter explicitly because I don't want a big neon sign pointing people to my life on here. But you all know who you are. :)
posted by k8t at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I keep coming back to this thread because it makes me feel so happy! And then I grab one of my kitties and hold him tight and give him kisses which pisses him off! Win-win!
posted by deborah at 12:19 AM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hiker Jill got home today and emailed me.

She told me the park rangers had taken down all our posters and she had to sneak around the desk to look for our phone number.

I'm not sure what to do with this information. I already sent emails to NPS and had mentioned that some rangers were less-than-helpful.

This certainly makes me less inclined to let the NPS make a kids' book about Tina.
posted by k8t at 1:07 AM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, hell no.

But at least now you know who the villains in the kid's book are. "Tina thought she had to look out for snakes and mountain lions, but it turned out her biggest threat were the park rangers, who didn't like little house cats at all."
posted by Scram at 4:19 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hang on a minute, though. It all hinges on when the posters were taken down - was it before or after the Park Service knew Tina had been found and recovered?
(Obvs you don't want folks looking for a found cat and/or your contact info out there and now- unnecessary paper clutter/pollution...)
posted by likeso at 4:34 AM on August 4, 2012

Oh, duh. You mean this was when Jill first contacted you, right?

Then, NO. The Park Service does not get to publish a feelgood pr book of lies about how helpful and friendly the Park Rangers were, saving Tina, when they were actually actively frustrating the search. No.
posted by likeso at 4:46 AM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Though good luck stopping them, I imagine. *sigh* Ah well, you just don't participate, I guess.
posted by likeso at 5:13 AM on August 4, 2012

On Sunday when Jill heard Tina meowing, she asked if there was a report of a missing cat. (She expressed surprise that no one else had notified them because it was pretty loud.) There were no posters up at the ranger station. She pestered them and snuck around the counter when they were gone to check. (Brave!)

She said they were generally jerks about it.

I'm not sure if I should email this information to their supervisors or not.

I will reply to the person that wanted to do the children's book and tell her that I've received information that the rangers were not supportive and I don't feel comfortable with their organization benefiting from our story.
posted by k8t at 7:33 AM on August 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'll be rolling through Devil's Tower later this month. I can certainly confirm that no errant posters stayed up. Did Walter visit the ranger station? See any of them?
posted by Atreides at 8:13 AM on August 4, 2012

Wow. Hiker Jill is even more of a Great Person than I realized. This is going to be my takeaway. Jerks pop up everywhere, but so do Hiker Jills. :)

Tough call on emailing the supervisors, because as you say, you already mentioned that a few rangers were less than helpful in a previous email. You don't want to feel like some repetitive, crazy complainer when you actually had a happy ending, heh. But that happy ending wasn't down to them. It was in spite of them. Those who took down the posters, etc. And if they had been helpful, a fantastic pr opportunity could have been realized which is now lost, and that is something that might need to be pointed out to them via their supervisors. Yeah, bit of a nyahnyah, but the point is, what about other lost cats? With no brave and persistant Hiker Jills?

Maybe that's the way to frame it: what is the official Park Service position regarding lost pets, pointing out what actions were in fact taken/not taken in your situation and including a genuine question about the reasons for this apparent emerging policy.
posted by likeso at 8:13 AM on August 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think you should, at the least, tell the person who asked about the book that the rangers took down the lost cat signs and told someone who found your cat that there were no reports of a missing cat; you should also update the supervisors about the book idea, and also the specifics of Hiker Jill's story.

And, in these emails, don't write yourself into a corner. They may respond in such a way that you now feel comfortable allowing Tina's story to be made into a book that supports them; leave yourself room for them to respond appropriately. (Ideally, you will write your email with the expectation that they will respond appropriately and you will be able to change your mind, because then they may feel obliged to do something effective.)
posted by jeather at 8:57 AM on August 4, 2012

Yeah, Walter saw no posters at the rangers' station, but there were still posters at the KOA and around town.
posted by k8t at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2012

Walter corrected me - KOA posters were down on his 2nd visit.
And the ranger station didn't let him post any posters, but they had copies of them. (I'm not sure how this all works then... but despite that, Jill wasn't given our contact information.)
posted by k8t at 10:03 AM on August 4, 2012

If the NPS person is still interested in doing a book, say, Sure, but as well as including the parts when the rangers were helpful and accommodating, let's make sure it includes all of the challenges that Jill and Walter faced, like the fact that the rangers actually took down the posters while Tina was still missing.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:28 AM on August 4, 2012

The local rangers and their supes, assuming your messages are even getting above the ranger level, are just going to go into cover-your-ass mode. If you want to try to ensure this doesn't happen again, take your communications to a higher level:

Wyoming Office of Tourism, Governor Matt Mead, Wyoming ASPCA state director, Senator Mike Enzi's staff.

Somebody who has the power to do something might care. Hopefully, you'll know when you find that person. They will either be a cat lover or sensitive to the risks of bad PR surrounding what could still turn into a mainstream media story, or both.
posted by Scram at 5:03 AM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm very glad that Tina is home safe, but I think it's going a bit far to vilify the rangers over this. There are probably strict rules about posting any sort of sign in the park, and I'd bet they thought the chances of recovering a lost housecat more than 2 weeks after it was lost in a harsh environment were pretty slim. When they told Jill not to call the owners, the rangers could've been thinking that the cat Jill had found might not be Tina, or that she might leave the area before she could be caught, and that it might be kinder to not offer hope which might prove false. That seems more likely to me than that they are cat-hating assholes.
posted by jon1270 at 7:41 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Was thinking of Tina and thought I'd check this thread. Wow! Wonderful news.
posted by Linnee at 4:35 PM on August 6, 2012

oh my gosh--have been checking on this thread now and then--but thinking about Tina & family a lot. so happy to hear of the fantastic outcome!
posted by auntie maim at 6:02 PM on August 7, 2012

OMG - this needs to be a side-bar. So glad your cat is home!
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:52 PM on August 7, 2012

I am so pleased for you. I was SO worried for you, for Tina and for your family. I have tears in my eyes. I sent the Gillette animal sheter a donation.

You know we love pics of our kitties, but your little-dude is adorable!

You have made my day!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:49 AM on August 8, 2012

I cannot freaking believe I missed this thread when it was happening. This had to be the most epic cat-family-reunion story I've read! The suspense was so high, when I got to this line: "Walter just posted to Facebook: "Tina is talking to me!", I just about started bawling like a baby.
posted by Eicats at 11:24 AM on August 24, 2012

I was at Devils Tower last week...and in the rush to get my park passport stamped at the ranger station before it closed, completely forgot to ask about the Tina Adventure that had occurred a couple weeks earlier. Blargh. I would have liked to have heard their response.
posted by Atreides at 7:06 AM on August 28, 2012

I was checking on this thread for a few days and was sad there were no updates. I'm so glad I thought of it today and decided to come check it out -- WHAT A HAPPY ENDING!!!! :) Makes my day happy.
posted by effigy at 1:16 PM on September 12, 2012

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