Updated June 29, 2016.
"I think we found your cat."
The call came out of the blue. Buddy had been missing for 18 months. There was no possible way they had the right number. Sensing my confusion, she clarified things for me.
"We have had a stray cat hanging around for a couple of weeks, so we went on the Fairfield Pets Yahoo group page and started looking through the photos. He looks just like the one you posted of your cat last December. "
My husband was now watching my face, trying to figure out what in the world was happening on the other end of the phone. I'm sure I was quite a sight.
"I suppose it could be him."
"He has a really funny meow."
"Someone found Buddy," I told my husband.
As unbelievable as it might seem after so many months, their description of him matched perfectly. I hung up the phone in shock after agreeing to come and try to catch him. He was only a mile away.
The first time we had to convince Buddy that we were a safe and friendly family was in 1997. Our house backed onto a state nature park that was heavily wooded. Buddy had been living there on his own for who knows how long when we first spotted him from the yard. He was emaciated, but still scared to come near us. Day after day we put out food. He would eat it and run. Finally he let us touch him, then bring him inside for a bit, then give him a bath. Allowing that bath is my best example of how weak he was. My husband has a scar on his thumb from the next time we tried bathing him.
We named him Whiskers at first because he had an enormous, glorious set of whiskers, but the name didn't stick. If you listen carefully, cats will tell you what their real name is. This cat's name was definitely Buddy. The vet guessed that he was about a year-and-a-half old, and he was neutered. Somewhere, someone had once owned this cat. Now he was our rescue cat. Or were we his?
Buddy was hell-on-four-paws and had a will of iron, but he was also one of the sweetest cats we have ever shared our lives with. Over the years he came and went as he pleased, and that included staying with us through two house moves around Michigan. He allowed our tiny daughter to carry him around under the front legs, his bottom dragging along on the ground and his tail in constant danger of trampling. Buddy would suffer the indignity like a limp ragdoll. He adored her and loved to sleep wrapped around her head on her pillow. I would move him to the bed next to her, but he was never very happy about it.
Probably his favorite playmate over the years was our beagle Eevee. She came to us when she was a tiny puppy, and the two of them bonded instantly. They would wrestle and play. Once Buddy caught a bird in the yard and shared it with Eevee as a gift. The beagle proudly brought it to the sliding door to show us and then gobbled it up (to the squealing dismay of my daughters). One of the many times Eevee got loose and ran off, Buddy followed me all around the block searching for her. I would call, "Eeeeeveeeee??" and Buddy would holler, "mereeroow?" I think he knew I was looking for his friend.
When we moved to Houston in 2005, there was a lot of drama. The kind of drama cats especially hate. We lived with my mom for a few days, and Buddy was not allowed to go out. This was highly unacceptable to him. Then we got on a plane and flew to Texas. Then there was the new house. Buddy was not happy with any of it. Our second morning in Houston, he demanded to go outside--and nobody could make a demand like Buddy could. Whether he was mad and ran off, or whether he just got lost in the unfamiliar (and at that time very unsettled) area around the house, we will never know. We searched and called for days. Now, 18 months later, someone had found him.
Catching him again took another day after the phone call because he was understandably skittish, but once we heard him talking to us from the bushes there was no question about it. It was Buddy. A pet carrier and a food offering later and he was quickly trapped and on his way back to our house . . . rescue cat, twice!
I'm very grateful that Buddy was a friendly cat. The home he returned to was very different from the one he was lost from. He had left behind an elderly feline housemate, officially named El-ahrairah after a character in "Watership Down." We called her El and our daughters called her YaYa. Buddy and El's relationship resumed immediately with full head-to-toe body rubs, like not a day had been missed. But there was also now a dog in our home. Max is big and loud and bossy, but he took one look at Buddy and kept his distance. Good dog. Wise dog.
Even more interesting for Buddy was that four more cats had come to live with us in his absence. When it seemed he would never return, we allowed each of our girls to adopt a cat. They selected black cat sisters from a local no-kill shelter. Then we found two abandoned kittens in a box, just a day or two old. Once we hand-raised them there was no question about keeping them. Five cats wasn't so bad, and Yaya was old. Now there were suddenly six. That's a lot of cats.
Buddy has always been a mostly outdoor cat, and after his adventures alone for so long he preferred to be outside even more. That helped the overflowing cat situation. It wasn't long before YaYa passed on, and things settled into a normal routine. Buddy came and went at his leisure, but he never strayed again. He was with us until his peaceful end in March of 2010.
Now Buddy lives on as an alien special agent in the middle grade book series I write, the Cats in the Mirror. Somewhere in the series he will get his own book. Maybe I will imagine what his 18 months wandering in our subdivision were like. I bet there were dozens of adventures for this rescue cat.
Most people who lose a cat never find that loved family friend again. Dogs seem to have many channels to reunite them with their owners, but cats are not so fortunate. I can never be grateful enough for the coordinators at the Fairfield Pets group who take the time to manage the pet finder site that brought Buddy, our rescue cat, back to us, not to mention the family that combed through months of pictures to reunite us.
You can establish your own lost pet Yahoo group for your neighborhood. It is a perfect place to post about lost and found animals and share information about local adoption events. Rescue cats make wonderful pets, and helping them to find forever homes is a high honor. Getting a lost pet back to their home is just as wonderful.
If you haven’t read any books in author Meg Welch Dendler’s, Cat’s in the Mirror Series, then it’s time to put them on your must-read booklist!
Her tales are an one-of-a-kind engagement with a new cat reality we humans didn’t know existed . . .
. . . until now.
Meg has interwoven her real life furry friends into each story in such a way you can’t help but fall in love with the fascinating litter of feline characters she makes come to life, especially Kimba and Hiro.
Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge, like all the books in the Cat’s in the Mirror Series, transcends genres.
Not just a book written for school-aged kids, Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge is a great story to read aloud to youngsters and an entertaining tale appealing to adults, too.
I’m hooked and you will be too.
You can’t stop reading with just one book; you’ve got to find out what happens next!
Award winning author, Meg Welch Dendler, has done it again . . . only this time, she’s gone to the dogs!
Max’s Wild Night is an engaging story sure to become a classic. This page-turner appeals to a wide audience, you might even say it’s ageless.
Children adore Max and adults lose themselves in his rollicking tale filled with suspense and sentiment.
True to his breed, Max takes to wild as only a Border Collie can. He’s a keeper that will win your heart.
Even cat aficionados, like me, fall in love with Max.
You will want to keep this timeless story on your bookshelf to read time, and time again!
Do you want a unique catsperience?
Slinky Steps Out by Meg Welsh Dendler has it all. From a deeply moving earthly tale to a Star Trek-like outer space adventure; “Slinky Steps Out” is filled with heartfelt drama, at times tear-jerking . . . fur-flying suspense and some purring romance.
Meg’s outdone herself with her sixth book, fourth in her Cats in the Mirror Series. It’s a perfect balance of elements appealing to kids and adults alike, an entertaining book and great entertainment.
This was a terrific page-turner I couldn’t put down.
I can’t wait to read her next book!