Leo the Lost Cat

This happened on Thursday. I was bringing the empty wheelie bins in from the nature strip and focusing on the job at hand lest I get them caught on a yucca plant causing them to twist and contort more than a two wheeled bin should be able to. My daughter excited to greet me kicked opened the garage door to wave to me, I waved back in earnest but unbeknownst to both of us our small white cat/kitten (catton?) Leo saw an opportunity and snuck past, ducking in and out of the parked cars with his humans none-the-wiser.

After finishing my errands and greeting the humans I wanted to find the cats and give them pats and cuddles, particularly Leo who had surgery the day before but alas he wasn’t around. “I hope he’s OK” I proclaimed, my wife reassured me “he’s probably hiding somewhere”. After two hours of looking and a bad feeling I reviewed the security cameras in the front yard and saw an undeniable cat shaped blur dart out of the front yard and out of view. My heart sank. Thing’s weren’t looking good for Leo:

• He just had surgery.
• He put Houdini to shame by escaping from his collar.
• He’s deaf.
• He’s never been outside.
• He had a two hour headstart.

After freaking out I got to work putting out at the front door a towel he liked to sleep on, his favorite cat food, some water, a cardboard box he could hide inside and like a cartoon character I made a trail of salami leading from the front door to the foot path. After creating a safe place to return to I grabbed the laser he loves to play with and a torch and proceeded to walk the three immediate blocks around my house with no luck. I’m sure the motorists and residents were concerned about the lurking shadow shining a torch in one hand with a fistful of salami in the other.

My daughter was crying as the search party grew, the rest of the family was now on the case. I got to work making signs, then walked up and back down the street putting the signs up with electrical tape (easy to remove and it’s all I could find):

No time for aesthetics, every minute counts.

We decided to jump in the car to cover more ground, knowing cats eyes reflect the light from a torch but at the same time being conscious to not look like the worst would-be burglars (except for maybe the burglar who was caught upstairs when the owners returned home and told a joke which made the burglar laugh). It was getting late and after a couple of near-misses with other cats I was prepared for the worst (being hit by a car). Driving down the nearest major road and I saw something that made my heart sink, I told my wife who was driving to turn the car around and we nearly crashed as she pulled up to investigate. To my relief and frustration it was a white plastic bag. LITTER.

We returned home to put the kids to bed, consulting Facebook groups local and of the lost-pet variety. I sat on the couch and sobbed at the thought of never seeing Leo again. The most repeated piece of advice we received was to go out between 3AM – 5AM when it’s the most quiet as he would be most likely to come out of hiding. I set an alarm for 3AM, set up the TV to show the IP camera feed from the front door and lay in bed staring, hoping he would come back to us. He was micro-chipped a day earlier and bared the de-sexed cat tattoo on his ear, so if he was picked up and brought to the authorities/Vet we could be reunited once more – if he was OK.

I thought to check the second front yard camera when I saw a white object moving erratically. A helicopter search light? No, it was Leo! I ran outside, grabbed him and gave him the biggest cuddle, then secured him inside.

It must have been about 11:30PM and 10°c out but I slipped some clothes on and walked down the street to collect my signs, picked up the salami from my driveway and brought everything inside (except the water in case some wildlife gets thirsty).

After reviewing the front yard camera he had been close by all along hiding under a car visiting next door, nearly getting hit and probably scared out of his wits. Instead of focusing on the limited range front door camera I should have been watching the overall yard cameras from the start. He even ate half a slice of salami.