Hope and prayers needed for lost cat:
March 30, 2011 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Ever lost a pet and found it? I'm distraught about my cat's disappearance and could use some positive stories of reunification.

My cat disappeared early Sunday morning and hasn't returned. He's very predictable and likes to eat so I know something has happened to him that prevented him from coming home. There have been cats and other small pets disappearing from the neighborhood (we've got coyotes and raccoons) but my cat has up to this point has been very cautious and wary. I'm talking 6+ years of survival cat mode.

I know bad things happen to cats that have access to the outdoors but our decision to let him outside was a quality of life issue. He was happiest when able to go outside.

I've done the usual things in search of him but am disconsolate and despairing. There's a canine search and rescue team coming tonight to look for him but I'm at work having a break.down. Sleep has been impossible since he disappeared.

Have fellow mefites ever lost their pets and have happy outcomes to share with me? I desperately need to hear them!
posted by loquat to Pets & Animals (79 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Back in the 1980s my dad left for a business trip and my sister's cat was in the garage and got out, and disappeared (we lived in a large city suburb). We had no luck finding her, and eventually we wrote her off. About eight months later she was suddenly hanging out on our back porch. From that moment forward, she was part of the family again, as if nothing ever happened. I'm not much on crazy animal stories, but that actually happened. I have no idea where she was during those eight months.
posted by crapmatic at 12:57 PM on March 30, 2011

Hi loquat,

My sister in law's cat, Chloe, disappeared at the beginning of November. She had been a mostly indoor cat who was playing outside on a warm fall day, and she just disappeared from the yard.

She showed up, scratching at the door, at the end of FEBRUARY, a little worse for the wear, but happy to be home.

I hope your kitty is doing okay. Big hugs to you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:00 PM on March 30, 2011

Our cat disappeared a while ago - after about 3 days we found out that someone across the road thought she was a stray and took her to a vets the other side of town.

This exact same thing happened about 6 months later, with someone else on our road who thought she was a stray and took her to a cat shelter.

I think our cat is just so friendly she hangs around other peoples house so much that they think she doesn't have a real home!

The same cat got run over by a car, had a bunch of metal plates and bolts put in her to hold her pelvis together, and is now back to normal - running around, pooping in the bathtub if it's raining outside, and generally being her silly self.

Best of luck with your cat, really hope she turns up.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:01 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm really, really sorry. I hope your little guy makes it home.

A few years ago we had a foster dog nip my husband then make a break for a half-open door. He was gone for about three weeks with a few sightings in the neighborhood. Eventually he was cornered and his original owner (who'd had to surrender him to the rescue for various reasons) was able to show up and he came right to her. He'd been eating from school cafeteria Dumpsters and hanging around a duck pond.

What helped us most was spreading the word far and wide. Fliers in coffee shops, pet supply stores, anywhere that would take a flier. We went door to door, too. Craigslist, Dogster, a local lost and found bulletin board, etc. We had contacts through the breed rescue we were fostering for, too, and they all kept an eye out.

Dogs, from what I understand, tend to stray farther from home when they get lost than cats do. I feel like I read somewhere that a "lost" cat is usually not too far from what it thinks of as home. Last year a friend's cat disappeared for several days then reappeared as if nothing had happened (he was not usually an outdoor access kitty, though; he got out accidentally.)

Best of luck. Coyotes and raccoons in the neighborhood are a scary issue for outdoor pets. I have my fingers crossed for a good outcome for your cat.
posted by Neofelis at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was a kid, my parents adopted a kitten from a feral mother - she was a little runty thing but we allowed her to live as an inside/outside cat. She was a good hunter and would bring home lizards and one time a rat.

In the summers, she would sometimes take off for a couple days at a time, then come home to eat. But in the summer before I went off to college, she disappeared for much, much longer. We had basically given up on her by the end of the summer and figured that an owl or a hawk or a car had gotten to her. It's the price we payed for allowing her freedom to roam, and we knew it would statistically shorten her lifespan.

Then, at the end of the summer, just before I went off to school, she reappeared - her fur was really matted and gross and she was a little hungry, but otherwise no worse for wear. I don't know where she went, but I was grateful that she found her way safely back. I know we're lucky to still have her with us 8 years later.

EndsOfInvention has a good suggestion - I was looking at Humane Society statistics and was shocked at the relatively low number of cats who are returned to an owner, compared to dogs. Call around!
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

The autumn when I was ten, my cat ran away. His homebody sister rarely left the yard, but he would roam the block. He had often disappeared for a night or two before, but one day he was just gone. After a week or two and some tearful posting of lost cat posters in the neighbourhood, I came to accept that he was not coming back.

The following spring, he sauntered nonchalantly in the door behind his sister one day: skinny, with a notched ear and a permanent 45-degree bend at the tip of his tail where he had broken a bone, but he took up residence and lived another six or seven years.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2011

I have a double reunification story. Phil snuck out one night and, being a skittish cat, I never expected to see her again. I looked for her and put up signs around my neighborhood, but there are lots of places to hide, lots of cars going too fast, and lots of coyotes, so I figured she was gone.

A month later, Fergus snuck out as well. I was in my backyard calling for him when I heard a piteous meow. I couldn't tell where it was coming from, but when Fergus gets out he usually gets stuck 30 feet up a tree, so I pointed my flashlight up. And he was there, stuck in the tree as usual, but he wasn't the one meowing.

Phil was in my neighbor's backyard; I assume for the entire month she was gone. I spent 20 minutes coaxing her close enough to the fence so I could reach over and grab her (I live in the country, we have 4 foot wire garden fence on the sides). She was skin and bones, but very glad to be found.

Fergus was rescued from the tree by a friend's husband two days later (because no, the internet, cats do not always come down when they are hungry/thirsty/bored).

So sometimes they do come home. Good luck!
posted by elsietheeel at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My 19-year-old, declawed (before I got him), indoor-only cat snuck out and disappeared last Easter. I was sure he was dead somewhere - especially after 3 big rain and hail storms came through. I live in an area with lots of wildlife - dogs, coyotes, raccoons, wild boar, mountain lions, etc.

I got a call a couple of days later after my neighbor found him sitting on her deck like nothing was out of the ordinary. He was absolutely fine except for being a little extra hungry and very tired. He hasn't made more than a half-hearted effort to sneak out since and is still going strong at almost 20.

I've heard that something like 90% of missing cats are found within 3 houses of their home - but only when they are ready to be found. Good luck!
posted by the_shrike at 1:13 PM on March 30, 2011

Maybe another view of a happy ending, though not for the original cat owner - a little cat showed up on my third-floor balcony (!) on the day after my birthday last year. She had to have belonged to somebody, but we looked for that somebody to no avail and ended up taking her in and loving her abundantly.
Her owners must be sad - but right now she's playing with a bit of plastic two feet away from me, then later she'll go play chase with one of my other cats... she's a pretty happy little kitty.
Sometimes they don't come home, but that doesn't always mean they don't find a home.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:13 PM on March 30, 2011 [8 favorites]

My cat spent a week locked into the garage next door, and she has such a little mew that even though we walked by calling her name several times, we didn't hear her. Cats often get locked into outbuildings or empty homes. Has someone moved recently, or gone on vacation? The warmer weather might mean someone had a shed open, and then closed it. And neighbors can be kind of blasé about these sorts of things... so give them all flyers, but also ask if you can open their outbuildings. Another cat got injured/bitten by something and spent days recovering somewhere before he came home.

I wouldn't give up hope.
posted by RedEmma at 1:14 PM on March 30, 2011

My friend's cat went missing a few years ago and was found in an abandoned building near her house about a month and half later. Seven years later, Jack is still alive and ruling the household with an iron paw.

Have you moved recently? I once lived in a house that had formerly been lived in by the landlord and when his cat would go missing, it was a safe bet that he had made his way to his former home a few kilometers away.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:16 PM on March 30, 2011

Hi loquat, I'm really sorry you are going through this, and I hope your cat comes home.

My former roommate had a cat who disappeared one day, and she found him after a week or so. She had put up flyers, and finally went door to door asking if anyone had seen him, and one lady answered and said, "Oh yes, he's in the back bedroom watching TV." Turns out the lady found him and shut him up in a bedroom without ever attempting to find out if he had a home.

This same friend had another cat, a beautiful but extremely skittish guy, who went missing for three months. She had pretty much given up on him, until he showed up scratching at her door one day. He ran when she came out, and she followed him and found his temporary home, under a house three doors down. She eventually convinced him to come home, and stopped letting him out after that.

By the way, I also have an indoor/outdoor cat who has fought my attempts to convert her to indoor only. I spoke to my vet about it just a couple of weeks ago (when said kitty had a swollen paw from getting into a fight). The vet said for some cats, they aren't happy unless they can go out, and she respects that.
posted by JenMarie at 1:16 PM on March 30, 2011

A cat I knew snuck out of the cabin it was visiting and was missing for three months until the people in the next cabin found that it had been locked in there the entire time, no one knows how it got in, living off mice and rats and drinking out of the toilet.

If you haven't already check places it may have gotten stuck or lost in. Cats can be sneaky.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 1:16 PM on March 30, 2011

My neighbor's cat is the only cat I know of (er, to my knowledge) who got found via posting a flier. Turns out the cat was hanging out across the street, on the next block.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:19 PM on March 30, 2011

My mom moved a couple of years ago to a different house in the same city about a mile away. A few weeks later our cat went missing. Shortly thereafter an old neighbor called my mom; apparently the cat went back to the old house and was hanging out there, apparently trying to get in or something.

My boyfriend's mom was able to reunite an owner with her lost cat. Apparently the cat discovered a way into her house through a gap in the foundation and was thrilled with the dishes of catfood lying around (the mom could hear a nomming-on-catfood sound when all three cats were in the bed). It kept a low profile in the house for several days until she caught it and later found the owner.

My boyfriend lost his cat for weeks until his family heard a faint meowing noise coming from the ceiling. It had gotten locked in the attic somehow...apparently it had scampered up there in fear when the cleaning people came, and somebody closed the door behind it.

A neighbor lost her cat for a few days. She found it locked in her building's basement, very hungry and unhappy but unhurt.
posted by phoenixy at 1:19 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was growing up our cat disappeared for 1-2 weeks every couple of years. She lived to 16 or 17 despite that behavior. And yes, I grew up near coyotes.
posted by valadil at 1:22 PM on March 30, 2011

My parents' cat had always been a fat happy indoor girl, and then one day someone left the door open and she was gone for three weeks. We pretty much thought she wasn't coming back. Then in the last week my mom could hear jingling, (she has tags) but couldn't locate the sound fast enough. Finally one day she just said, "ok Bella, that's enough, time to come home," and B hopped out of the shrubbery and sauntered through the door, all "what?"

She lost a little weight but was otherwise completely healthy, and she's fat anyway. We have no idea what she was up to.
posted by sweetkid at 1:23 PM on March 30, 2011

One of my cats once got out and got locked in my neighbor's garage for 2 weeks while she was away on vacation. The cat came back, skinny, but otherwise fine.

The same cat also once got locked in a roll-top desk (I have no idea. She was a stupid cat) just before I left for a three-day weekend. She was fine upon my return. The contents of the desk, however, were not.

Good luck finding your feline friend.... they're pretty resilient!
posted by brand-gnu at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

My friends' cat recently reappeared after three long weeks away. Best of luck to you.
posted by judith at 1:31 PM on March 30, 2011

Definitely agree with checking places your cat may have gotten stuck in! Last summer, I awoke to find just one of my two kittens in my studio apartment. When I found that the screen in the kitchen window had been knocked out, I realized that the bigger kitten had pushed the smaller kitten out the second-story window.

I searched the neighborhood on and off all day, knocking on doors, looking everywhere. My neighbor didn't have much going on, so he joined the search and late that evening (about 18 hours after she'd gone missing), he found her yowling in a cupboard in an abandoned shed, three blocks from our building.

Best of luck to you and your little buddy.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 1:32 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

When he was 3 our favorite cat ever, Mr. Pudding, jumped out the kitchen window and escaped because my (then) girlfriend had left it open and there was no screen. We caught sight of his tail disappearing through the window and then he was gone, gone, gone.

Oh, we were distraught. He was not an outside cat, and the thought of him lost alone out there sent us scurrying outdoors where we searched and searched and searched and searched and searched. Oh, we looked like crazy.

I think we did that for about a week when we started to give up with the realization that Mr. Pudding would not be coming home.

And then, a couple days later, my wife heard a meowing noise when she was outside and she investigated and found him in the crawl space under the house, fighting with a cat who lives down the street.

He saw her, bounded out, and never left the confines of the house again.

Good luck to you!
posted by kbanas at 1:33 PM on March 30, 2011

A couple of years ago my wife and I left our one-eyed chihuahua Smee with my parents while we went out for a night on the town. Somehow he broke out of their backyard and ran away. I spent that night and some of the next morning walking up and down the streets of the neighborhood I grew up in looking for him, but to no avail. He was gone. I was heartbroken. You see, our little one-eyed chihuahua gets separation anxiety. So I felt guilty for leaving him.

Three days later, I get a phone call from the county shelter letting us know that they had our dog and he was fine. Since Smee was a rescue, he was microchipped before we adopted him, thank God. We drove down to the pound to pay the fee and bring Smee home. While waiting for the clerk to process the fee, I asked if they knew who the good samaritan was that found my dog. It turns out that my dog was found hanging out at my former elementary school where a teacher thoughtfully scooped him up, took him home, and babysat him for the night until they could bring him to the shelter first thing in the morning.
posted by lilnemo at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2011

What helped us most was spreading the word far and wide. Fliers in coffee shops, pet supply stores, anywhere that would take a flier.

Yes! The second time we found our cat, it was because we put up LOST CAT fliers, and someone called who had seen our fliers and also seen another flier around the corner that said FOUND CAT which turned out to be put up by the people who had taken our cat to the shelter.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, hey--if you have a car, check the underside of it before you start it in the mornings. My childhood cat ran away, was gone for a week and turned up...I was outside looking for her early one morning and I kept hearing this meow but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I got my dad, who found that the cat had sort of climbed up into the underside of the car because it was warm and dry.

I hope your cat comes back. I know this must be heartwrenching.
posted by Frowner at 1:35 PM on March 30, 2011

I lost two birds when a gust of wind knocked over their cage on my deck.
Now the first bird was easy to locate. She would sing and knew/recognized me but the damn bird wouldn't come down from the trees she enjoyed such freedom from. I would climb up neighbors trees only for her dumbass to fly to another one and call out to me.
I noticed her throughout the hood and would keep an eye on her each day, I could hear her all the way down the block. We put out posters throughout the neighborhood and waited. The second bird we never saw.
Finally after a week of the one bird's avoidance she decided to greet a nice woman and flew to her shoulder while gardening. She had noticed the flyer and called. The nice lady had bird one on her shoulder when I came to get her and bird one finally came to me as I appeared (I am assuming her dumbass finally was bored/hungry enough to come home).
Up untill this point, bird to was MIA until we received a phone call from someone about 5 miles away asking if we lost a bird. Sure enough, we went to investigate and turned out the little bugger was safe and sound. This was after two weeks!
Best of luck and take action, put up flyers, spam craigslist and what not.
posted by handbanana at 1:36 PM on March 30, 2011

I have one from the other side. One weekend I was in the basement of my parents' house doing laundry, and thought I heard a faint meow. I looked around but didn't see anything, and figured it was coming from outside. Later that day, or maybe the next day, I heard a meow again. I looked, and still didn't see anything, then my parents looked and neither of them saw or heard anything, and thought I was crazy. Then, I heard a bunch of LOUD meows, and I finally got my parents downstairs in time to hear them. They were coming from the vicinity of the boiler but there was nothing there, so we were looking under the porch, knocking on the walls, wondering if there was a hole somewhere. Then we got a flashlight and saw a pair of shiny eyes hiding wayyy back there. The cat wasn't stuck, but all it would do was hide back there and meow. We tried to lure it out with food and cream, and that didn't work. We gave up, left the food, left the door to the yard open and went back upstairs. Then I mentioned to my dad that the cat might have come into the basement in order to have kittens. That lit a fire under my dad and he hurried back down there with his terrier following him. At the sight of the terrier (who I had to hold back because I knew he wanted to go into chase mode), the cat decided to GTFO with haste. We had no idea how the cat got in, because all the windows were shut and so was the door to the yard. My mom said the cat must have gotten in a few days before, when she'd had that door open.

So, there could be a group of people who have found your cat hiding under their boiler, and can't get it to come out.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:36 PM on March 30, 2011

I had an outdoor cat as a kid growing up in the suburbs. She was pretty reliable 99% of the time and would often spend the entire night outside. One time she disappeared for five days, but sauntered back only one house up from us, none the worse for the wear, as I was walking home from school. Sometimes cats just have to party, I guess.
posted by greenland at 1:37 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was a kid, our cat Rebel disappeared one week when my parents were away on vacation. He didn't come home and we didn't see him for several months. Eventually, we got word from a neighbor that they'd spotted our cat at the home of another neighbor living a block or so away. Apparently they had taken him in (against his will, perhaps?) and were keeping him as a pet, even though everyone knew he belonged to us.

My mother and I went over to the house and my mother confronted the cat-napper. The mom of the family wasn't happy about being caught, and said "You're breaking my two kids' hearts," and my mom replied "We've had two broken-hearted girls at home for the last few months."

He'd put on about 6 pounds living with them (they must have been feeding him Purina Horse Chow), and we never did get the weight off him, but he came home with us that day, and was contented to stay in his own yard after that.

Good luck, hope you find your kitty.
posted by stennieville at 1:37 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was a kid my family dog ran away. We put up posters, asked everywhere, to no avail. We gave up searching after a month or two. Several months later (can't remember how many) my mother was out walking when she saw our dog being walked by another person. I think he had been adopted by their family, in any case we didn't get him back. But it was still comforting to know he was alright.
I'm so sorry this is happening to you, I hope you find him soon!
posted by Papagayo at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2011

I'm so sorry for you and your missing cat, and I hope he returns soon. Here's my story:

I had been wanting to get a cat for a while but couldn't really justify it. Small condo, not home very often, that sort of thing. But one day Henrietta showed up and decided she was going to live with me, and I didn't have much choice in the matter. She had been de-clawed before she adopted me, but she was happy, healthy, a fine hunter, and she insisted on going outside so I let her. One day a couple summers later she didn't come home in the evening. It wasn't terribly unusual for her to not come in when I went to bed, but be waiting at the door in the morning, so I wasn't really worried about her. Next morning she wasn't there. I went to work, came home, and still no kitty cat. So I went walking around the neighborhood to see if I could find her. No luck. Heading home, I happened to glance up at a neighbor's house and there she was, inside the front window, lounging on top of the air conditioner. She looked at me as if to say, "What the heck is wrong with you? It's hot out there!", stretched, rolled over, and went back to sleep. It was another day before she decided to come back to stay with me again.
posted by Balonious Assault at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2011

In about 1989 my cat, Ricky, went missing. He liked to wander and couldn't resist an open door. After he didn't come home, I asked all the neighbourhood kids to look out for him (they all knew him), asked people to check their garages and sheds, but no luck. On the third day, by which time I was frantic, I went over to a nearby pub which was being renovated, just in case he was there. The contractors said they hadn't seen him, but half an hour later, one of them phoned.

Ricky was under the floorboards and, after hearing my voice, he started scratching and yowling. They had to pull up most of the new flooring to get him out, because he was scared, and would only come out after being lured with ham from a sandwich. My number was on his collar.

I wish that was the end of Ricky's adventure. But a few years later, after I'd moved to my current home, he went missing again. I got a phone call from someone miles away who'd found him in the back of his van. It turned out he'd been doing some work on one of the houses in the street and Ricky climbed in. Luckily, the guy was a cat lover and I got him back, someone else might have just dumped him out of their van somewhere in North London. After that I made sure that if there were any workmen, furniiture removers, etc. in the street, I'd ask them to make sure they didn't have a stowaway before they left.

Despite using up many of his nine lives, Ricky lived until the age of 20 and died in 2003, a stay-at-home old man cat.
posted by essexjan at 1:44 PM on March 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

We had given up searching the woods, knocking on doors, and putting up posters for our wonderful missing coon cat. We didn't put 2 and 2 together to think why the police kept showing up in front of neighbor's house, repeatedly sent there by the alarm company. Mystery solved when neighbors returned from their trip. Kitty was down a couple of pounds but well hydrated from toilet accessible from their basement/garage where she had been "hiding."

Twenty-five years earlier, different cat went missing until neighbor asked if the cat walking around on their roof might be ours.

Same neighborhood, yet another neighbor. Their siamese had been missing for many days. At neighbor's place of work someone commented that a cat seemed to be hanging out around the office park - turned out it was the missing siamese who had hitched a ride to work.

Good luck. I know the awful feeling of a missing kitty all too well.
posted by Kevin S at 1:48 PM on March 30, 2011


One of my cats was gone for three days. I suspect that he was locked in a garage or something, because he wasn't injured and I can't think of any other reason why he wouldn't come back (that convinced me to make my boys indoor only, btw). Little bastard showed up at seven o'clock in the evening at the back door, pissed that I didn't have his food ready.

My parents, who are completely insane, took four cats and one dog with them for a several year stay in England - which required 9 (?) months of quarantine for rabies. Two days after they got the animals out of kennels and into the new house, one of them escaped. Two days later he showed up at the back door, asking for breakfast.

Hope it works out for you.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2011

Back in July, my [fairly new] roommates requested I take my cat out for the day so they could bug-bomb. I took her with me to my favorite coffee shop and opened the carrier just enough to let my hand in to pet her. She pushed her way between the zipper and my hand and was gone.

There were a few sightings over the next month or so, and I'd gotten in the habit of driving slowly through the neighborhood we'd lived in before and the neighborhood of the coffee shop, stopping every block or so as she knew the sound of my car and the beep when I'd lock the doors. Nothing. By mid-winter, I'd pretty much given up hope.

My boyfriend was walking to the store two days ago and noticed a cat that looked just like her. He called her name and sure enough, she walked right up to him. The cat that had always hated to be carried, let him carry her the two blocks home.

She's fine. Maybe a touch of ear mites and a little more skittish than she used to be, but otherwise healthy. Cats have this bad habit of not being seen/caught when they don't want to be. I think mine just took a 9 month vacation.
posted by MuChao at 1:51 PM on March 30, 2011

Our new cat went missing before a HUGE northeaster this year (basically the first snow storm of her young life). She slipped out in the morning and my nightfall there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground. On the third night I went door to door with flyers. She came home before noon the next day.
posted by beccaj at 1:52 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was in high school, my dad accidentally let the cat out when he came home from work late. She's a small brown tonkinese, so he didn't notice that she had bolted into the hallway of our apartment building. The next morning, when my mom realized the cat was gone, she scoured the building, figuring the cat couldn't have gotten outside, since we lived on the fourth floor. The cat wasn't in the building, so we put up fliers in the neighborhood (which some jerk ripped down) and hoped. This was in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park, so we had a few strays on our block and it wasn't unheard of to see raccoons, so we were worried about her getting beaten or run over. A week later, an older woman who put food out for strays in her back yard saw our little cat dart out from behind her fence, take some food, then go back to hiding. The cat had been hiding between backyard fences half a block away. My mom went over to the woman's house and the cat came right out. She's still alive and living happily with my mom.
posted by blueskiesinside at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2011

My cat, Matilda, got out at the beginning of winter. Generally she would go out for 2-3 days at a time, then come home for a week or two. She did not come home in 2-3 days, or in a week, or in 2 weeks. It had snowed, she only ever weighed 5-6 pounds, she was too scared of people to go to get help, and she never meowed. There was one local family she used to visit, but they had not seen her. I went regularly to see if she was at the shelter, I put flyers in every door in a 2-3 block radius, I walked around calling for her, but it kept snowing, and she didn't return. I was sure she was dead. Positive.

After about 4(!) weeks, my sister heard a sound outside, and when she opened the door to see what it was, she saw Matilda, who immediately ran away into our neighbour's back yard and under their deck. She had been trapped by the snow, but then they opened the door under the deck to get toboggans out. She refused to come out, but when we brought a can of food, she came out for it and I managed to snatch her and bring her inside. She's a long-haired cat, and you could see her bones through all her fur; she weighed less than 2 pounds. But she recovered fully, with no health consequences, and she quit going outside since.

Another of my cats, Lord Conrad Blackcat, got out and did not come home for a weekend -- he usually went out for less than 6 hours, so again I was sure something was wrong. He made it home 3 days later with a broken leg. After surgery, multiple casts (he kept kicking off the old ones), and trying to do physio on his leg, the permanent effects are that he cannot jump as high as he used to, and that he has a new nickname, Stupid Jerkface.

Cats come back more often, and after a longer delay, than you sometimes think possible. I hope your cat comes back soon.
posted by jeather at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2011

In the late 80's, our outdoor, suburban Siamese cat "Kitty" (shutup, my 3 siblings and I couldn't agree on a name and decided to call him "Kitty," temporarily. he began responding to "Kitty" in 2 days) went missing.

Kitty was very much an acclimated outdoor cat, bringing us "dinner" from time to time, intentionally provoking the neighbor's 3 dogs across the street, and would come in to eat and then continue on his adventures. But one time, he went missing for about a week. 1-2 days was normal, but a week was highly unusual. We got scared, put up signs, drove around the neighborhood. I remember riding the school bus to elementary school, and would sometimes see Kitty happily sprawled out in the sun on some stranger's brick wall, 2-3 miles away from home. But he was missing a week, and this was not worrisome.

Then on the 8th or 9th day, Kitty came at the door, like he usually does, to eat some meow mix or fancy feast. He moseyed on like, "hey, what's up? What time's dinner?" Then he gave himself a bath, and hopped up on the windowsill to watch the birds and squirrels. As if nothing had happened. Like it was totally normal to go missing for a week. I sometimes think Kitty had a secret double life.

Even with his long, mysterious excursions, Kitty lived to a ripe old age of 17.5.
Kitty was a badass.
posted by raztaj at 2:03 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

correction: missing for a week was worrisome!!
posted by raztaj at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2011

Three stories.

A friend's cat disappeared in Austin, sauntered across town to his old home, someone found him and returned him to his new home.

A cat I took in while living in Saudi Arabia heard the call of the wild or something, disappeared for a few weeks. One day she walked in (in fine shape) like she had been gone for a few minutes.

I came across an unbelievably massive black cat who seemed to want to come into my apartment so I let him in, remembered that I had seen little posters about a giant cat that had gone missing. The people who had this beast were in the complex so I picked him up, trundled over to their place--the cat was a load, the heaviest I've ever encountered--and gave him back to his people.
posted by ambient2 at 2:13 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was younger, my aunt and uncle had a cat at a house that they lived in on the outskirts of a big city. One day, the cat just up and disappeared. They happened to live very close to a pretty major road. The general conclusion was that they cat must have gotten run over. My cousin was inconsolable, because she considered the cat one of her best friends.

Three years pass, the family has now adopted a dog, and they move to a new house in a new neighborhood, about a twenty minute drive from their old house. After a few weeks in the new house, they notice that the neighbor across the street has a cat that looks JUST like the cat that had so unfortunately passed away three years earlier. It was a pretty unique looking cat so they think this is odd.

They eventually befriend neighbor and find out that this neighbor found the cat wandering around in the neighborhood about three years before. They had posted signs looking for the cat's owner around the neighborhood, but never heard anything (since my aunt and uncle lived in a suburb 20 minutes away), so they just kept the cat.

It was the most unbelievable coincidence. Pictures confirmed the unique markings, and the cat was the right age and seemed to "recognize" my aunt and uncle, as much as cats do so. The cat ended up being kind of a "shared" cat - welcome in both their houses, with food bowls/ kitty litter available at both.
posted by CharlieSue at 2:22 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our cat disappeared for about a week and actually came back fatter than when he started.

My theory was that he went free agent on us, but it didn't pan out.
posted by bunji at 2:24 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

One day a scrawny cat rocked up to our back porch and meowed for food. Being pet-free cat lovers we opened a can of sardines and that was it, we were his. We called him George. It was two years before we realised George was micro-chipped. Eh.

I really hope your kitty comes back just like the dozens above. But if he doesn't you can console yourself with the idea that he's possibly safe, loved and cared for.
posted by the fish formerly known as sarcastic fringehead at 2:26 PM on March 30, 2011

Another story, as told to me by my parents:
Our big black cat went missing for two weeks from our flat in Germany. He was found one building over, on the porch of what would've been the right apartment had it not been the wrong building.
posted by MuChao at 2:28 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was a teenager, my grandma (who lived with us) died. Around the same time, our cat Panda snuck out of the house and disappeared.

Now, Mom-mom died in the fall, and by springtime we all wanted a new kitty to try and fill the two giant empty spaces that were there. So my parents adopted a pair of kittens (Bigfoot and Ralph).

Sometime around June, Panda came back home, and man was she ever pissed at being replaced. But we were happy!

There was also an incident where our dog Major escaped and was found a few miles away, at a house that looked just like ours (same shape house, same deck, right on the water, etc).
posted by cabingirl at 2:28 PM on March 30, 2011

I haven't lost a pet, but I've owned a couple of cats, had once found a dog and returned her to her owner, and can sympathize. I don't want to give you false hope, but crazily improbable things can happen. Maybe this story will make you happy:

A long time ago, during the period of great unpleasantness, I was driving out to Walmart in the middle of the night. I can't remember the reason why, but I'm sure it had to do with having to procure a basic life necessity, like toilet paper or something, and not like an impulsive late-night iPod purchase or condom run (oh, if only I were so lucky!), because it was a dark time for me: no dough, donating plasma for cash, and generally failing at life.

I remember it was the middle of the night, because there was no traffic downtown. I'm cruising along, and see a tiny dog in the middle of the right-hand lane, just kinda trotting along. Right in the middle of the lane. I'm like wtf, and briefly wondered if I should signal to change lanes to the left before I realized that there aren't any other cars around, and the dog doesn't have rearview mirrors or the capacity to understand traffic rules or my desire to pass it.

Anyway, I slow down and follow the dog for a couple hundred feet or so, and decide, man, it ain't going anywhere, and pretty soon it's gonna end up on the interstate, and wtf is it going? So I pull over, hit my blinkers, and get out of the car. Dog keeps trotting along, and I start to jog to catch up.

I'm not really thinking straight, and I was getting winded because it's cold and I'm out of shape and probably unhealthy from giving plasma so frequently and maintaining a diet of Beefaroni and such, and there was a bum on the other side of the road (here I don't use the term "bum" pejoratively, really, but as a matter of convenience to communicate the person's socioeconomic situation, and besides, I used to bump into a bunch of bums during evening constitutionals, and got to know some of the locals and basically got inducted into some sort of bum club as an honorary bum, but that's another story), and I sorta half gasped/half yelled "HAY MAN IS THIS YR DOG?!"


Yeah, ok, so it wasn't his dog. I catch up to the dog, and start talking to it like it understood English, which, I think, it did: "HEY. HEY. SLOW DOWN. HEY. DOG. STOP." And it stopped. And it looked all sharp n stuff, like it got a hair cut or whatever. Groomed. It was a well-groomed dog. And I approach slowly and say "hey, c'mon over!" And it jumps into my arms. Smelled like dog, but seemed really nice and well-kempt.

So I pet the dog, and walk over to my car, and put the dog in the passenger seat, and get back into my car and start driving to Walmart before I realized, jesus, I've got a fucking dog in my car! And I call a friend of mine who also had a dog, to ask for dog advice, and what I should do. She recommended calling the local shelters, checking for fleas, make sure to buy some dog food, and make sure to watch it carefully in terms of how it got along with my cats.

I get home, and put the dog in my bedroom, and shut the door. I checked for fleas: none. But then I noticed it had, like, doggy pinkeye. One eye's lower eyelid was all puffy and red. Still, the dog seemed fine. Ok, no sweat. Wash hands. Got a bowl of water. Started making some calls: whaddya know? All shelters closed. Vets closed. I didn't know anything about this kind of stuff, because my mongrels were off the books, never had problems, and were indoor cats.

I called my brother to ask him for advice. He said go to the local vets. He said some dogs are "chipped," and they might be able to get information about its owner. He said I'd better be ready to own a dog. He said I should give the dog a name, because it was annoying to hear the word "dog" repeated so often.

I asked for advice on what to name the dog. He said make it memorable. He said I should figure out if it's a boy dog or girl dog. It's a girl dog. Ok. Why don't you name her something fun? Like, where were you going? Target? That's a good name! That's like a great name for dog, like Trigger, only Target is bad because it implies I hunt for dogs, and besides I was going to Walmart, not Target. You can't name a dog Walmart. That's like naming a dog BestBuy! But I had no other ideas. So I called her Walmart.

Hey Walmart, get off my damn bed. Yoh Walmart, imagonna make a buncha calls and reunite you with your owner! Walmart, meet my doods, Link and Roobik. They're cool cats. Wait. Wait. You've got doggy pinkeye. I should keep you isolated!

But I couldn't keep em separated, because the cats were used to sleeping on my bed, and would try to paw under the door and meow to get in, and Walmart kept on fucking around and attack the paws that shot out from under the door, so I just reasoned that whatever bug that was causing doggy pinkeye was already on my hands, and my clothes, and had probably already transmitted itself to my cats, and it's probably ok cuz cats don't get pinkeye, do they?

So I opened door, and they kinda sniffed each other, and just kinda checked each other out. I got in bed, and Walmart jumps onto the foot of my bed. Now my doods, they're used to sleeping on my bed, but every time they were about to jump up, Walmart would growl.

How endearing! Protecting her new owner! How annoying, I've gotta get some sleep! This went on for some time, before I just passed out from exhaustion.

I woke up with my face a few inches from the wall. The dog and my two cats took over the right side of my bed. I guess they got along and decided to be friends at some point in the night. I got out of bed, and made a bunch of calls to shelters and vet's offices, to see if anyone's reported a missing dog, or taking in dogs for adoptions. The shelters around here were all at capacity, and you know, it's really tough to describe a dog when you don't know dogs: "She's a small dog. Recently got a haircut. Has doggy pink eye. Brownish fur. I dunno. About the size of 1.5 cats. No tags, no collar."

I didn't have a leash, and she didn't have a collar, but I didn't want her pooping in my house, so I figure I'd take her out for a walk. I did, however, have the knowledge to bring with me a plastic bag to pick up dog poop, and she apparently was pretty good at not running away again. Thankfully, she did not poop. Even if she did, I think I probably would've waited a couple of hours for the shit to freeze before going back out to pick it up. I dunno. I didn't like the idea of handling warm poop with a grocery bag.

I took Walmart in to a local vet after a bunch of calls, and missed my plasma donation time. This kinda sucked, because they had this deal where if you went to five consecutive sessions, you got an extra twenty bucks. Anyway, I went to the vet, and the vet was very, very nice: he was very sorry he couldn't just take the dog in, no, no one's come in to look for a dog like Walmart, there's no chip. Don't worry about the fee.

"What about the doggy pink eye?"

Oh that, just a congenital something something that affects purebreds or something, and it's called "cherry eye" and it's not contagious.

"Ok. Uh. I think it ate some cat food?"

No sweat, probably not, but here, have some of this dog food to take with you.

I thought I was destined to be a dog owner. I wasn't ready for this, or the cost or the maintenance needed. I didn't have a life of my own for the dog.

And then it was time to leave the vet. As I was walking out, I noticed a man sitting in the waiting room staring at me. I mean, he had a really, really intense stare on his face. It's the sort of look you'd imagine someone would have if he or she were about to tell you the exact date and time the world would come to an end. He stands up, and says in a toneless, flat voice that one usually reserves for telling someone when the world is gonna end: "You should call this number."

And he passes me a piece of paper. I say thanks, and he just says again, "No. You should call. This. Number."

I'm totally creeped out. I say thanks again, and go home. I call the number, and it's to some shelter. I tell the lady on the phone this whole entire damn story, and she really listened patiently. It was like I was speaking to a therapist. And then she says:

"Ok. Hold on. I think you should speak to someone here."

And another woman's voice gets on the phone, and offers a glum "hello?" And I tell HER the whole goddamn story, and she says "I think that's my dog."

Hah-hah. I know this trick, I'm thinking. You can't fool me! Gimme proof! She says the dog's name is xxxxx (I can't remember the dog's real name), and I say the dog's name aloud. The dog totally runs into the kitchen and looks at me like WTF?! THAT'S MY SEKRIT CODE NAME. And I told the lady that yeah, the dog seems to respond. She starts crying. I start tearing up. She asks where if I could meet her somewhere, and I said I lived near an art museum, and we agreed to meet there in an hour.

An hour passes, and I'm walking towards the museum, and I see a woman walking towards me. She calls the dog's name out and Walmart goes into a full sprint and jumps up into her arms. She hugged me, thanked me, and said that she was just doing some gardening, and the dog usually just hangs out with her but for some reason ran off. She'd spent the entire evening trying to find the dog. She said she'd never be able to repay me, but offered a check for two hundred bucks. I said I wouldn't accept it, and that it was no problem, but she held my hand and closed it over the folded check. And then she asks again how I found Walmart, and I tell the whole story and we're both sobbing, and she tells me that Walmart's a silly name for a dog, but that I seemed like a smart man, and it was ok. And then when parted.

And man, lemme tell you: I felt like a million bucks for about ten seconds, before I felt like I got punched in the heart. I knew I couldn't ever afford a dog at the time, but really liked Walmart and almost got used to the idea that I could keep her. I thought about what it must've felt like to lose a pet, to have hope that it's been found, and the possibility of being let down and disappointed if it wasn't the owner's dog.

What a crazy series of events leading up to finding her owner! And that man in the vet's office! And his crazy stare! And some random number he just happened to have?! That's some cosmic shit right there.

At any rate, I got home, ripped up the check, pet my doods for a long time, and realized that I loved the mongrels, even if they were jerks sometimes, that I was very glad the lady found her dog, and that yeah, Walmart is a pretty dumb name for a dog.
posted by herrdoktor at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2011 [61 favorites]

I'll tell you my other lost pet story, even though it's not about cats. When I was 9 or 10, I had a cute little gray hamster. I asked my parents for a second hamster (more hamsters the merrier) and they said no. This hamster had a habit of chewing through the plastic lid of her cage and escaping, but she wasn't very fast so she was easy to catch. One day she completely disappeared though. I searched the house for her, weeks went by, she was gone. My parents agreed to let me get another, and I got another cute little gray one. One day another few weeks later, I opened the door to the basement (again) and she was sitting right there on the top step. In order to shock my parents, I got out my other hamster and went with glee to show them that I now had two, identical hamsters. It was glorious.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:30 PM on March 30, 2011

Man, I REALLY hope your cat comes back but I have to say it was almost worth the question just for herrdoktor's answer.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:47 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

herrdoktor, that was beautiful, thank you!

loquat, I really hope he comes home very soon.
posted by ceri richard at 2:52 PM on March 30, 2011

I have had to rescue my cat Zad kitty twice from tricky places. One time involved letting a basket down on a rope into an inaccessible courtyard from a stranger's third-floor balcony. So go out and look around, shake the food bag (if applicable), call his name and check out possible places in the neighbourhood where a cat could get stuck.

The flyers idea is excellent. Cats are curious and can get shut into garages and basements by oblivious neighbours.

Also: a few years ago my doorbell rang, it was a neighbour saying my cat was outside the front door. Zad kitty is gray, and a gray cat was outside, but it wasn't her. But it wore a collar with a rabies tag – vets here give you a metal tag for your cat with the vet's number on it. I called the vet and they called the owner and she came rushing around: the cat had been missing for weeks and she'd just about given up. I don't know what the cat had been up to but it was in fine shape, just didn't seem to know how to get home, and had come to the first cat person's door.
posted by zadcat at 2:58 PM on March 30, 2011

A feral cat group I read had a pretty impressive story. When a new cat shows up at a feral colony, if it's friendly or if it's looking thin, scraggly, or otherwise in poor shape it may well be a stray, not feral. So feral cat caretakers generally try to find an owner on those scraggly/friendly guys.

One particular cat showed up at one particular colony, and the colony manager thought he might be stray, so posted him in all the usual places. She was contacted by a couple who thought he might be their Sebastian(? S-name anyway); they came and verified, yep, he was Sebastian.

He had vanished nine months previously! They were still scouring the "Found" ads in the paper, Craigslist, etc, though they'd probably all but given up hope. They were thrilled to get their kitty back. It's just one of the many "found & returned kitty" stories I saw on the group list, but the nine months really stood out.
posted by galadriel at 3:03 PM on March 30, 2011

My cat went missing on a Thursday and freaked me the fuck out. On Saturday I put up signs all around the neighborhood, called local vets, viewed gruesome pictures of squished animals that may have matched my cat, and got some phone calls from people who had seen roadkill cats that matched my cat's description.

On Monday evening he did come home, all-be it with a broken leg, but at least he was home.
posted by wcfields at 3:05 PM on March 30, 2011

I found a lost cat when I was in about 5th grade. He had no collar and there were no "Lost Cat" notices in the neighborhood so we adopted him (for some reason naming him Sir Christopher). A few weeks later, one of my friends saw the "Lost Cat" flyer at a convenience store about a mile or two away, at which point we could call the owners and get Sir Christopher (who wasn't even a boy cat!) back to her owners.
posted by scody at 3:25 PM on March 30, 2011

My sister's husband left for work one day, drove for several blocks and then stopped at a red light. Their cat (who had been hiding somewhere in the car's undercarriage) bolted across the road and disappeared. They put up posters and all that, but he was missing for about a month and they'd pretty much given up on him before someone found him hiding under their porch. He was filthy and had lost a lot of weight but was otherwise fine.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:25 PM on March 30, 2011

A cat adopted us and we started feeding her and keeping her in the garage at night because of coyotes in out neighborhood. I built her a huge cage (8 ft high and 6 ft wide/deep) that was connected to the garage opening in case she wanted to step out and have a smoke or whatever. One evening she was not in the yard. Days passed and I was so sad I dismantled her summer cottage since it was a constant reminder she was gone. While canvassing the neighborhood one more time we decided to knock on doors. A neighbor said that she heard mewing a couple of days ago but didn't know where it was coming from. She is the only one around that has a basement and recalled that she was down there removing some items days before. We opened the side hatch and THERE SHE WAS! She lost a little weight and was pretty cranky. She hasn't left the yard since. So best wishes to you.
posted by Don92705 at 3:37 PM on March 30, 2011

I'm a little late to the party, but I'll tell my story anyway. I had a cat growing up, Stripe, who I loved *so much*. Still do, even though she's long past her well-spent 19 years. Anyway, she was known to disappear for a day or two, but after she was gone a week we were getting desperate. We searched - boy did we search. That first week turned into 2, those two weeks turned into a month, and we figured she was a goner. My heart was broken.

Fast forward another month or so (the actual timeline has gotten fuzzy...). It was the start of September, and Stripe had been gone almost the entire summer. But very early that Monday morning of Labour Day weekend, my dad comes into my room carrying Stripe!!! She was the most wasted away, skinniest, weakest cat you've ever seen in your life, but damned if it wasn't her. She had come home, barely alive. I have no idea how she made it, but she must have been one determined cat. She could barely even walk. I'm getting teary eyed just thinking about how happy I was right then.

We never did figure out where she'd gotten into. Our best guess is that she got locked in a barn or something over the summer, and finally escaped when the owners came back for the school year. But really, we have no idea. She must've found water, but obviously had not eaten much. She was a damn fine hunter; she could've eaten well and taken care of herself outside, which is why we're sure she had to have been locked in somewhere.

She recovered fully, and lived another 10 years happy, healthy and herself. She never really did stray to far from home ever again though.
posted by cgg at 3:59 PM on March 30, 2011

Didn't see this linked above, sorry if it was and I missed it:

posted by vito90 at 4:00 PM on March 30, 2011

My Dad moved to Japan for work when I was about 11, and took our family cats with him. One cat, Shoti, ran away within a couple of weeks. My Dad put up signs but never got a response. About 3 months later my Mom and I finally moved, and I put up more signs with her picture on them. A neighbor called us, and it turned out she had been living in a house in the next street over. She was really skinny, so I think she hadn't been there that long. We imagined a whole Tokyo street cat existence for her. She completely recovered and lived another 10 years, though she was always really anxious about food.

My Aunt lost one of her cats when he fell out of a window when the screen got loose. She lives near a busy street in Santa Barbara, where there are coyotes. She and her neighbors kept spotting him, but he was too scared to let anyone near him. She went out looking for him for weeks, seeing him just often enough so she didn't give up hope. He finally let her come near him in a neighbor's yard.

Good luck! I hope your story has a happy ending too!
posted by apricot at 5:10 PM on March 30, 2011

My old Alex kitty disappeared for long enough that we got a kitten to console me. After about a month and a half, here comes Alex again, and I hope to never see a look of betrayal such as that when Alex saw new-kitty Kelty ever again.

Alex went on to disappear for weeks several more times before finally never showing up again. This boy was ancient--going on 17 or so, and I was happy to have him that long even with the mysterious disappearances. (The last time he left, my husband and I heard a distinctive "Miaow!" while in the kitchen one night. This was after about 3 months gone. My husband turned to me and said, "You are fucking kidding me!" But no, it was not Alex, and in fact, no cat at all. I think it was his last goodbye to me.)

Cats can and do disappear for quite some time and then come back, seeming as if nothing ever happened. I am hoping that your baby comes back to you! I know how hopeless and sad it feels when they go astray. Good luck!
posted by thebrokedown at 5:30 PM on March 30, 2011

My friend's crazy indoor kitty Salvador went missing once. We lived in a big artists' complex that spanned multiple acres and a group of friends searched the entire property multiple times to no avail. My friend was distraught and eventually gave up hope. Then one day, 3 weeks later, one of the residents in a building on the other side of the complex heard meowing, and found Salvador hiding inside an opening in one of the walls in the hallway outside his 4th floor apartment.

Salvador had lost about half his body weight and was scared out of his gourd, but he quickly fattened right back up and turned back into the little furry nutjob he'd always been. He never did try to go out the door again, though.

Good luck, and I hope you find your cat.
posted by bedhead at 5:52 PM on March 30, 2011

When I was a kid, my beloved cat went missing for over a year. Then, one night, as we were pulling into the driveway, there he was on the lawn. Good luck.
posted by squid in a people suit at 6:04 PM on March 30, 2011

Our cat Locutus was a regular disappear-overnight kind of cat. When we moved a couple miles away, the elderly woman across the street brought us a bunch of stuff for him: cans of cat food, toys, boxes of flea collars. We had never even spoken to her before, but she saw we were moving out and came over to tell us that Locutus spent a bunch of time hanging out at her house. I used to see her get meals on wheels deliveries, so I know she had gone out of her way to pick up things for our cat.

A few months later when we were living in the new house, my sister brought me a kitten from one of the barn cats at the stable she kept her horse. Locutus was not pleased apparently, because he promptly disappeared. We walked the neighborhood, called, went to the shelter. Two weeks later, he came in the window, acting as if nothing had happened. Then he left again, two days later, and never came back. I think he was really miffed about the new cat, and he made it very clear he didn't need us. I hope he went back to the lady on our old street.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:06 PM on March 30, 2011

This blog post from Dooce is a great (and relevant) story.
posted by southern_sky at 7:12 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My cat was once missing for about a month. She is super skittish and half-feral and escaped my apartment when a guest accidentally left the door closed but not latched.

I'd walk around and around the building calling and calling (there are lots of hiding places). I left the windows and blinds open for weeks hoping to catch a glimpse. Scoured the neighbourhood. Crated my other cat and parked her outside the building and let her cry (she hates being crated) in hopes of drawing out Other Cat. Left extra super smelly fish in hopes of drawing her out, left her normal food, nothing.

I had given up on ever finding her, when one day I'm doing the dishes with the window open and I hear some piteous meows from down below. I sprint outside and catch a glimpse of her disappearing into a hole that presumably led down into the basement. As she peered up at me, I grabbed her by the scruff and hauled her out of there. She was skinny and flea ridden, and had worms, but was alive.

She is now once again fat and happy and as spoiled as ever.
posted by ZeroDivides at 7:32 PM on March 30, 2011

When my kitty Gus died in 2003 from kidney failure, I told the story on my blog about the time, years before, when he got out and we lost him for several days. I had all but given up hope when we found him, skinny and wet, a few blocks away. So the blog entry has a sad ending overall, but there's a happy resolution to the time he was lost.

So happy you have some good news about your kitty!
posted by Addlepated at 7:48 PM on March 30, 2011

My friend's cat went missing for about three days, and was eventually found (alive but hungry!) in the garage of a house down the street. She must have crept in when the neighbour drove in one day, and hadn't been able to sneak out again or make enough noise to attract attention. But she was fine in the end.
posted by lollusc at 8:34 PM on March 30, 2011

I have a neighbor who qualifies as a "cat lady." She has about five of them roaming around. One afternoon I was outside talking to her about all of her cats. She told me that most of them had come with her from Florida -- she had just moved up to our region a few years ago. One of the cats had actually gone astray a few months before her move, but she wasn't able to find him . . . until an entire year passes, when someone calls her up and tells her they had found her cat. (This particularly cat had on his tags, although it absolutely bewilders me as to why it took a whole year before someone called up the owner listed on the tags.) So my neighbor drove all the way back down to Florida to be joyously reunited with her cat Ziggy.

It happens!
posted by fignewton at 8:34 PM on March 30, 2011

There were these little fliers pasted on what seemed like every telephone pole in my neighborhood this past January, I think it was, about a lost 14-year-old all-indoors long-haired cat named Ponta. The young woman looking for her cat actually stopped me on the street one day near the local supermarket to hand me the same flier, but at that point it was like two or three weeks after the cat had supposedly disappeared, and I really didn't think she had much of a chance, considering the cold winter season and the age of the cat. I also ran into the same woman handing out her fliers at a mall two train stations away about a month later, which sort of broke my heart because she was so desperate to find poor old Ponta.

Well, the good news is, apparently, Ponta's back. I saw another flier pasted over the original one in the window of a local bakery thanking everyone for their help and that Ponta miraculously came back home. This was around the beginning of March!

True story! Good luck!
posted by misozaki at 9:04 PM on March 30, 2011

I still had the flier! These were pasted everywhere in our neighborhood and beyond.
posted by misozaki at 9:44 PM on March 30, 2011

My neighbour's cat recently went AWOL for about six months. He came back, looking fit and well fed. Just strolled in the door one day looking smug.

And I seem to be a compulsive dog-returner. A couple of years ago I met a Norwegian Elkhound running on his own in the forest. Being alone in the forest doesn't faze an elkhound in the least, but he was trailing maybe four meters of chain from his collar. Obviously he had been chained outside, but the chain or anchor had broken off, and he had promptly taken off. I was afraid that the chain would snag, and that he would be trapped and starve to death somewhere. So I tried to call him. He stops, looks at me all "You crazy? I'm having the time fo my life here! I'm not going home with you!" But somehow I managed to make him come to me, and chained him to the trailer hitch on my Land Rover. I was out camping, so I had water and a bowl, and gave him some. I think I had a cookie or something for him as well, and then I was all right in his book. I then called the local police. I live in a smallish town, and police officers are often dog people, so I expected them to know of elkhound owners locally, even if noone had reported a missing dog yet. And noone had, but the police called around, and were eventually able to track down the owner. He had left the dog at home with his teenage son or something, who was deep in a Playstation marathon and hadn't even noticed the dog missing. Being in the middle of nowhere, I got him into the car (old Land Rovers are excellent dog carriers) and took him home. He probably resented me for that.

When I was a kid I found a German Shephard running in the streets. Being a friendly fellow, he was happy to follow me home. We had a German Shephard of our own, so I got her leash and hooked up the stray and took him for a walk. We visited all the houses I knew of that had German Shepherds, and eventually someone recognized him and called his owners. The dog seemed happy that he was being walked, but was equally happy to see his owners again.

I've returned a few other dogs as well, but they had phone numbers on their collars. Then it's a lot easier.
posted by Harald74 at 12:00 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

We used to have a feral cat that showed up at my parent's house when I was a kid. We lived in the country and this guy would show up, stay for a few months, then take off. We wouldn't see him for months and then he'd just turn up again looking scruffy and demanding food.
So yeah, cats can be surprisingly resilient. Hope yours shows up safe and sound.
posted by arcticseal at 4:54 AM on March 31, 2011

My Mali disappeared for about five days last October. She generally stuck pretty close to home when she went outside so I started getting worried after she was out overnight and I couldn't call her in. I made little mailbox flyers and put them in boxes all around the neighborhood, and put bigger flyers on telephone poles within the subdivision and a few blocks across the main drag. Got a call a day or two later from someone across the main drag who had seen her--she was trapped in a swimming pool enclosure at an apartment complex several blocks away, and they saw the flyer while they were out for a walk. I picked her up and she was fine (sadly, she died about a month later, but for completely unrelated reasons--she was FELV positive and it just kicked in).

I never did know why she strayed as far from home as she did. My husband thinks this is ridiculous, but she was gone over Halloween night and I always wondered if some rotten kids picked her up and dumped her over the fence as "mischief."

Folks were VERY responsive to the flyers, though. While I was on my way home from work (45-minute drive) to get her from the pool enclosure, another guy called to tell me she was there. I also got several other calls from folks who'd seen a look-alike--in fact, I just got one last week (nearly five months later!) from a guy who still had the mailbox flyer. I would totally recommend both flyering methods if you haven't already done that.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:30 AM on March 31, 2011

Our dog went missing for a few weeks when I was a kid. We put up notices in the main newspapers. I was so sad; we'd lost all hope. Then one day I came home from school and there was my little guy running towards me wagging his tail furiously. A couple of guys had brought him home after finding him in a nearby town and seeing our notices in the paper. Still one of my happiest memories.
posted by Ziggy500 at 8:56 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

My neighbor's cat went missing, and I figured Kitty was a goner. But who wants to be a meanie? So I said, "O, he'll turn up and surprise you." All my neighbor's friends said "Kitty's a goner." When Kitty returned after being gone 10 days, neighbor was really grateful for my little Ray of Sunshine. Cats are pretty resourceful, and yours will likely turn up. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 4:12 PM on March 31, 2011

Not a lost cat story BUT! I have four cats and they're all indoor cats and they don't wear collars. One of them, Oliver, tries to dart outside every chance he gets, usually when letting the dog in or out. He's done it twice this week. The wee bastard is getting a collar with a tag with his name and our phone number on it.
posted by deborah at 2:48 PM on April 2, 2011

Any news, loquat?
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:18 AM on April 8, 2011

This question was posted six days after our neighbor had lost his cat. Benny is an outdoor cat, and he often visits with us and is fed by us whenever the neighbor travels for business. Many of the replies made me hopeful as well, but when it had been two weeks last Thursday I finally lost hope that we would ever see Benny again.

Well, tonight he wandered up our shared driveway and headed straight for the bowl of catfood in the carport. He has lost quite a bit of weight and smells like he was trapped in a cowshed for the whole 19 days, but otherwise he's completely fine!

Keeping my fingers crossed for you, loquat! Who knows, maybe your cat will show up in six days?!
posted by amf at 2:17 PM on April 11, 2011

Two separate cat escapes!

One was this past weekend. His name is Pounce, and while I still call him my cat, my mom sort of fell in love and took custody (I have visitation rights!). Friday afternoon, they had to have their heater repaired, and he most likely slipped out while the repairman was doing his job. Pounce has never been an outdoor cat. I didnt worry until the following afternoon, was it was obvious he hadn't been hiding in the house. I went outside, and called REPEATEDLY. "Here kitty kitty! Here GOOD BOY!". Nothing. So, I went into the house and got the catnip. Back outside with the bag. *shaky shaky shaky*. Hallelujah, I hear weak meows. *shaky shaky shaky*. More meows! I end up flat against the ground, peering under a very low, tiny back porch. Poor guy looked like he spent the night terrified (and he's a big, demanding, lovey man-cat). I had to pour the catnip out before he came out, and he wouldnt stay off my lap the rest of the day. Don't underestimate the value of kitty's favorite items! And keep calling, and then listen -very carefully-, if your kitty is scared, it'll probably only let out quiet meows as to not alert the big scary outdoors!

And, for the second story, this one involving coyotes. Growing up, we had (and still have!) an indoor/outdoor cat named Lily. Normally, she was back in the house at least once a day. This time, she was gone for 3. And, we could hear the coyotes yipping at night. Finally, Lily limps on home. She doesn't seem too bad, she's kinda limping, looks like she pulled a muscle. Well, a day or two later, it's not getting any better, and it seems to be swelling, so we take her to the vet. Turns out? She HAD been attacked and bitten by a coyote! But, she got away and came home. After some stitches and antibiotics, she was almost back to normal. I say almost, because she never has attempted to leave the house again :P So there may be a silving lining to your situation!

Once she comes home (thinking positively!) I would look into the varmit laws in your area. Depending on the species of coyote, and considering evidence points to them becoming dangerous to domesticated animals, your area may have laws that allow for trapping/killing the animals, to prevent even worse problems. (I'm from Michigan, and we do, but I'm not sure if your area does).
posted by waxlight at 1:33 PM on April 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all again for your stories. It's been very painful to visit this post or even to be reminded of all things feline. Driving around seeing my rain battered posters, wondering about my cat every time it rains or gets cold is beyond bearing.

I'm still searching and posting new signs and holding onto hope.. Hugs, kisses and love to all your beloved animals. I'd give anything to have my cat back.
posted by loquat at 4:59 PM on April 16, 2011

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