A couple of weeks ago a stray cat appeared under the neighbor's porch, meowing its head off.
We dubbed it Porch Kitty, and wondered where it came from. It was obviously someone's pet. You could tell by the way it behaved, and the fact that it was declawed.
We (various neighbors) discussed how to handle the situation. Thalia, Annabeth and I walked around looking for Lost Cat posters, particularly in the neighborhood behind ours. We discussed that it could possibly belong to the family that just moved in back there, except we hadn't heard them out calling for a cat EVER. And there was the house next to that had a bunch of cats, including Especially Annoying Cat None of Us Like, but again we had never heard that person calling for a missing cat, so we knew it wasn't theirs.
Let me pause here a moment to explain that I've lost a cat before. I walked miles and miles, calling calling calling for the cat, 7 months pregnant with Annabeth, dragging 3 year old Thalia with me. I knocked on stranger's doors and handed them pictures of the cat. It was traumatic, and I can understand how upsetting it is to lose an animal, and what the owner was possibly going through, and how they must be searching for it.
I posted its picture online a couple of places. And started figuring out how to make Found Cat fliers. We planned to hand them out in the nearby neighborhoods, skipping the houses (like those above) that we had ruled out.
Eventually Porch Kitty started wandering over to our house some of the time, possibly attracted by the cats and kids constantly coming and going. Also, Annabeth and Thalia kept going to visit it over at the neighbor's porch, and tried to coax it out to play.
And I seized the opportunity to grab it, put it in a carrier, and take it to the nearest vet to be scanned for a chip. I also gave the vet a Found Cat flier.
The cat did have a chip, but the vet couldn't immediately identify it. So we brought it back home, where it decided to await its identification in air conditioned comfort, sleeping on the kids' beds, being petted and fussed over. Sort of like a Feline Spa.
And today I got a phone call from a person who was delighted to discover that I had found her Tigger, which she had learned via the flier at the vet's office.
Person: "Yes, I have X# cats and a dog, and I don't know how she got out ..."
Me (mentally): X# cats? Really? (Out loud): "Is this [Especially Annoying Cat None of Us Like]'s house?"
Person: "Yes ...."
Me (out loud)"Oh, we live right behind you. We looked over in your neighborhood but didn't see any Lost Cat posters." Mentally: We also NEVER HEARD YOU CALL FOR THE FRICKIN' CAT ONCE. And Annabeth was often toting it back and forth through the yard while the woman was standing there in her yard and could easily see the cat.
Me (out loud): "Well, if it shows up back over at our house again we'll know where it came from." (mentally): Also, maybe we should have pictures of all of your cats for the next time we find a stray, since you apparently don't have time to look for them yourself.
Huh. I'm half expecting it back over here next time it can make a break for it.r. As long as it doesn't bring Especially Annoying Cat along, we'll probably let it in. It's a sweet cat.
Or maybe we'll sneak over one fine evening and call softly through the window, "Porch Kitty, wanna come out and play? We can play string, we can eat rotisserie chicken, you can sleep on the pink blanket. Come on out, Porch Kitty!"
Edited to add: Okay, now I feel like a jerk. As soon as I published this, the owner called and said she'd been thinking about how attached Annabeth seemed to the cat, and wondered if we would like to adopt it. It's okay if we don't -- she's happy to keep it -- but she figures she has plenty of cats, and they obviously "got along okay without her" since the other cats all sort of hang out together and she's the odd cat out. Hmmm.....