Nami, our 13-year-old Bengal cat went missing in late July. She is an indoor cat with access to our backyard through the pet door, but our backyard is protected with The Cat Fence . (The current Cat Fence shown in the link looks like prison fencing; our 15-year-old cat fence looks more like this). In theory, she can enjoy the back yard without leaving the property. Somehow, she found a way out in late July. At first, we hoped she’d come home on her own. A good ten years ago or so, she got out several times one summer before we found and blocked her clever escape route. She always found a nice woman who would pick her up, check her collar, call us, and give her back. So we waited for a call, but it never came.
After two days we posted fliers around the neighborhood, and I put notices on Petharbor and Craigslist. My middle daughter posted on NextDoor and PawBoost. I talked to neighbors and combed the area; nothing. About a week later, a woman living 1.25 miles to the north called and said that she had seen our cat. I didn’t believe her, but she sent a photo. Yup, Nami had visited her house for several days. Nami had lost her collar, but the lady could tell she was someone’s pet. She found Nami’s pictures on Petharbor and NextDoor and contacted my daughter. The woman put out food for her and promised to nab her if Nami returned. My family took turns searching for Nami in the northern neighborhood, noting a pond, a tiny creek, and lots of open space for mousing, which we found comforting. We put up fliers in the northern area, hoping she continued to dodge the coyotes, foxes, and cars in the area.
We continued to visit the local shelter at least every five days, so that if she was picked up, we could get her before someone adopted her. We saw many beautiful, friendly, and scared cats; it was a hard place to visit, but we were grateful it was there. We wondered about Nami’s motivation. We thought she’d been happy with us, but maybe she wasn’t. Did she run away, or did she just have a bad sense of direction?
I finally got a call from a man who said that he had seen Nami go home with a nice woman on the walking path the week before. He didn’t know the woman or where she lived; he was just passing by when he saw her tell a friend that she was going to take the cat with her. He knew it was Nami, though, because they marveled over her unusual spots. He had only recently seen one of the fliers but wanted to reassure me that Nami was safe. It was comforting, but we were quite sad to have her gone.
A week later, the man called again. Through a series of coincidences, he ran into the kind woman that had taken Nami with her. Her name was Sandra, and she said that Nami was not getting along with her existing cat and had a LOT of energy! He gave her my phone number and she called.
When my husband and I approached the glass front door, Nami saw us and her tail began to twitch. It was definitely her! When Sandra invited us in, Nami rubbed against our ankles and asked for petting, which we happily gave. When my husband put down the carrier, Nami walked over and went right in. We all understood how unusual that was and took it as a sign that she was ready to come home!
Sandra had taken Nami to the vet and learned she hadn’t been chipped. When Nami was spayed as a teen, we wanted to get her chipped. The vet talked us out of it, saying that there were at least three different chip vendors, and no one had all three readers, so she recommended waiting until the market stabilized. Well, we never got around to it after that (cringe). We reimbursed the lady for her expenses and gave her and the man who called a modest reward.
Nami again has the run of our home and shaded back yard! My husband had fixed the cat fence, so that it would be safe for her again. She has been quite affectionate since her return – more than usual. Only four generations domesticated, Nami is a typical Bengal and rather stoic. When we heard her purr for the first time in ages, we knew she was happy to be home! She was gone 4 ½ weeks and we are so grateful to all the kind and wonderful people who contacted us with sightings, fed her, or kept an eye out for her. The take-away here is that if you see a stray, please try to contact the owner even if you were unable to capture him/her. Without the first woman’s help, we never would have put up fliers in the northern neighborhood that were instrumental in Nami’s return. We never expected her to go so far! If you see a stray, search social media for the owner. Of course, get that cat chipped, even if you think she’s old and content at home.
As a follow-up, I want to add that Nami is gaining back some of the weight she lost and is quite affectionate with us. She’s also the proud owner of a new collar and tracking chip! We’ve only seen her in the back yard once since she returned; I think she’s had enough outdoors for a while.
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