December 09, 2006

Cancel that Christmas Cancellation


So Matilda (the cat who ran off and has been missing for the past week) is back.

We did all the usual things, putting up fliers, staking out shelters day by day, knocking on doors, talking to neighbors, and roaming the streets at all hours calling her name. The last seemed in many ways the most pointless and pathetic, and I felt like a bit of an idiot doing it, but in the end that's what worked.

Remember when Bobby and Cindy got lost in the Grand Canyon, and the rest of the Bradys hiked about yelling "Bobby! Cindy!" only to learn later that they had been befriended by an Indian boy who didn't want to tell his old fashioned Indian chief father that he wanted to be an astronaut rather than a regular Indian? Well, it was kind of like that. Minus the Indians, as far as I know. The rain helped, because there was a lot less activity on the street and it was quieter than usual. It's kind of scary skulking around people's yards in my neighborhood in the middle of the night yelling "Tilda!" Still, that's what needed to be done, and at one of the apartment houses down the street, we heard what sounded like a meowed response. Or was it an auditory "mirage"? (There have plenty of those over the past week, that's for sure.) It could have been a delusion, or somebody's pet inside one of the apartments, or it could even have been somebody else's cat trapped underneath. But eventually, astonishingly, Matilda's little face appeared behind one of the little screens at the base of the building. We had to cut her out, in the rain, making a Tilda-sized hole in the screen. She was bedraggled, scared, squirmy, and devilish hard to hang on to, but in the end we got her inside.

She is clearly traumatized and exhausted and jumpier than usual, but not injured physically, and it looks as though she will be all right.

Thanks so much to everyone who offered kind words, sympathy, and advice. It was very much appreciated. Everyone said not to give up too soon, and had stories about cats who came back after months or even years, and I'm so glad to have one of those stories of my own. I'll tell you one thing, though: if you're going to lose a cat around here, try to do it in Berkeley/Piedmont/Emeryville rather than Oakland. Berkeley Animal Care Services is a kinder, gentler shelter, in complete contrast (as in so many situations) to the squalid, nightmarish Oakland PD Animal Control Facility. It was, in fact, the Berkeley people who provided the tip about calling for her late at night and listening. It is obvious, I suppose, especially now, but I doubt it would have happened if they hadn't suggested it earlier that day.

Anyhow, I cannot begin to tell you how relieved and overjoyed I am to have her back. It looks as though we won't have to cancel Christmas after all.

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 9, 2006 08:14 PM | TrackBack

Hooray! Welcome home, Matilda!

So glad you've got her back.


Posted by: John at December 9, 2006 08:22 PM

Woo Hoo! I've never owned a cat so I don't know their running away/being found habbits, but I honestly didn't think you had a chance. Very happy to be wrong. Congrats.

Posted by: josh at December 9, 2006 09:00 PM

Brilliant news! So happy to hear that she's back. Best wishes one and all...

Posted by: Chris "Alfred Bitchcock" from London at December 9, 2006 09:00 PM

I *told* you she was just messing with you! Anyway, great news!!! Time to celebrate!

Posted by: Erika at December 9, 2006 10:16 PM

On second thought, being trapped under a building isn't messing with you. If she had just popped up by your front door, that would have been different. OK, time to celebrate!

Posted by: Erika at December 9, 2006 10:22 PM

Yay! I'm really glad you were able to find her.

Posted by: Manda at December 9, 2006 11:04 PM

That's fantastic! Molly and I were rooting for you.


Posted by: Lane at December 9, 2006 11:10 PM

Yay!!! I'm so glad it's a happy ending.

Posted by: Sasha at December 10, 2006 12:54 AM

I'm a random reader who has been checking on your site to see if you found Matilda. I am so happy you did because she is truly one of the cutest cats I have seen and it was obvious how much you cared about her. Hooray. Am so glad you rescued her-

Posted by: Hilary at December 10, 2006 03:45 AM

Wonderful news! Incredible photograph by the way and the tale told beautifully. If I am ever lost please find me.

Posted by: Paul at December 10, 2006 06:24 AM

wow! great... i was really worried,i always hear those stories and imagine finding a cat is like finding a lost wallet.

but that happens too on occasion!

either way it seems diligence has rewarded you.

Posted by: just me at December 11, 2006 07:23 PM

Hey Frank,

I haven't checked in here for a while, so I missed the whole Matilda drama. I've been there, too, as a long-time cat owner. The most recent escape involved a cat who's very paranoid and not too bright, so that if he steps like 5 feet outside he really doesn't know how to get back inside again. He got out one March day 5 years ago and spent a week trotting around our block and a neighboring block or 2. We put up signs, and lots of people called saying, "Hey, I just saw your cat in my yard!" I put out one of those live animal traps in a neighbor's old garage, and now know how long a person has to open the release door before an angry opossum can climb up the cage to eat you. We took his best friend, our alpha cat, outside to yowl for him, which got his attention but never got him to actually come inside.

Finally, we put the trap in our driveway and, about a week after he took off, our dumb little cat's hunger got the better of him and he stepped into the trap for a nice tuna snack. I still remember my wife going downstairs that morning to go out and check the trap, and hearing Boris yowl as she came back inside with him.

I'm glad everything worked out well for you guys with Matilda. Give her some extra 'nip for the holidays!

Posted by: Nick at December 13, 2006 04:34 AM