Moving is stressful. It seems like everyone I know is moving this year. Some are moving pregnant. Some are moving with small children. And most have gone off without a hitch (knock on wood). I grew up in the military and pretty much every move (and trust me , there have been plenty) was fairly uneventful. Well, except for the time the Uhaul broke down right after we got it all packed up on our way from South Portland to Bangor. This time though, things were incredibly stressful.
We recently moved across town, with two children, and our small menagerie. Our seven year old daughter was visiting with her Mom for the weekend and was easily bribed to pack/unpack her own room with a trip to build-a-bear, and our wonderful family chipped in both days to help watch the 16 month old while we focused on loading the Uhaul and cleaning. We had everything planned out so that we could quickly move, and have a uneventful move.
However, nothing ever goes as planned. Friday night, we realized our sweet snuggly Tuxedo cat, Binx, hadn’t been his usual affectionate self. As we vegged on the couch, dreading the weekend’s move, we realized that he wasn’t behind our head or perched on my husband’s chest, repeatedly headbutting for love. In fact, we couldn’t really remember the last time we saw fluffy butt.
So maybe he was just scared and hiding by the mass of boxes that had appeared. Maybe he had sensed our stress and had found a little place to nestle under a bed or crib. Maybe he had accidentally been trapped in the attic or basement on one of our many trips up and down. He certainly couldn’t have got out of the house. The cat had no interest in going outside unlike our other little brat cat, Mad Martigan, who took every chance possible to escape into our driveway. Nope, Binx had to be somewhere in our house.
But after much searching, we finally came to the realization that Binx was not in the house and that he must have escaped the night before (Thursday).
This couldn’t have come at a worse time. Tomorrow, we were packing up and moving across town. Not only that, but we lived on Center St, a very busy road made busier as we were right next to St. Joe’s. Both my husband and I felt we had to act fast. We had to find our cat before he got hit by a car, before we moved away for forever, and before someone else adopted him. We also had to put down one of our other beloved pets, Desmond, that Friday. We hadn’t even had a chance to tell Em yet. Last thing we wanted to have to do was explain to her that not only did Desmond have to go to Heaven, but that Binx had gone missing.
But still we figured he’d come back. We figured during the next two days that we were going in and out of the house, moving, that he would show up.
Saturday morning, we began our move. I woke up rather early and began what everyone should do when the lose a pet. I first contacted the Bangor Humane Society, setting up a time to go in and fill out a missing cat report. I, then, contacted Bangor’s ACO, Trish Bruen. My last resort was going onto Craig’s List just to see if there was any “found cat” posts. Instead, I found a post about missing cats in particular. The post was from the Maine Lost Cat Recovery Organization which directed me to a Facebook page.
Let me tell you a little bit about this organization – it branched off from the Maine Lost Pet Recovery which specializes in getting the word out on lost and found pets. They help organize distraught owners and help them gain the tools necessary to find their lost pets as well as helping spread the word. The MLCR has some fantastic strategies, sample lost cat posters, and a lot of positive success stories. I started out by creating a Lost Cat post. A volunteer, then reposted by post, putting out a Bangor Alert. Her name, Joanne, then contacted me through private message, asking for my email and phone number and created a fantastic flyer for us.
She asked me if I liked it and if I could print it. At first, since my printer had been packed away, I didn’t think we’d get a chance to print them. She offered to print them on neon paper and ship them for me. A very sweet gesture, but thankfully, my husband was able to print them at work. The MCLR still created some intersection posters for me, mailed them to me priority, and offered positivity and suggestions for us to get through this hard time.
Monday, we went out and hung up the posters. Tuesday morning at 7am, I started getting calls. One of which a few houses down from our old address, told us they had seen a cat on the back porch. When I first went over and checked, I didn’t see Binx, and had to get back to the new apartment in order to be able to take Em to school. After dropping her off, depressed, I talked myself into stopping at McDonald’s, getting an ice coffee, and taking another drive by. As I drove by the house that had said they’d seen an unfamiliar tuxedo cat, I nearly crashed my car, as I saw the profile of a black cat. I pulled to the side of the road, wanting to get a closer look. Sure, I hadn’t seen any white on the cat, but I had also been driving by in a car. I hopped out and went up the driveway and looked around. Nothing. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a black and white cat that I recognized immediately, dart under a shed. With some encouragement (and a lot of tears), I was able to coax Binx out from under the shed. We think he had escaped on Thursday.
The first thing I did after calling my husband and getting the cat into the car, was post on the MLCR with the good news.
I got a call later on from Joanne, just celebrating the fact that I had found Binx. She asked to hear my story and what had worked in finding Binx. I told her if it wasn’t for The MLCR, I wouldn’t have found Binx.
And I honestly believe this. Sure, I’m smart enough to post flyers and sure, I probably would have hung them up the same places but when I realized that Binx was missing, I was distraught and unorganized. My thought process was that we were moving, that we had to find him before we moved, and if not, then we probably wouldn’t find him until he ended up at the animal shelter. It was the MLCR org that suggested neon flyers. It was the MLCR who suggested the strategy that the cat might not just come back but that indoor cats sometimes get scared and go into hiding. I might not have looked under that shed. I certianly wouldn’t have put on the flyer to call me if there was a sighting.
The MLCR did sometime very special for our family. They gave us hope. They told us this happens. That people find their cats even if they have been gone for several days. They told us that someone cared that we had lost our cat. They remained calm, gave us strategies, and most importantly positive support. Trust me, others told us “You may not find your cat”. While this is a fact and has truth in it, it wasn’t what we needed to hear. This is what leads people to give up. The MLCR gave us that support to NOT give up. To try more than word of mouth. And for that, I am thankful.
The MLCR is not a 501 c 3. It is a non-profit organization, meaning, that what they do they do not get paid for, but donations to them are not tax deductable. The MLCR has a few volunteers that purchase materials for signs, print and create signs, and then mail them to those who may not have the funds or ability to create flyers. They take donations for the cost of materials in Walmart and Staples gift cards which are the places that they purchase their supplies from. They did not ask for any money from me, even knowing that I was offering a reward for my cat. Without any hesitation, they created and priority mailed signs for us. All out of the goodness of their hearts. My hope is that others will see this. Others will see the good that they are doing and help volunteer, donate, or, if they ever lose (or find a cat), they will use the resources that the MLCR have created/provided.
I never realized how wonderful the organizations in Bangor were for a lost pet. Trisha Bruen, the ACO, personally called me, letting me know that she hadn’t received any calls about a hit tuxedo cat and offered me her support. Her support, along with the Bangor Humane Society and the MLCR gave me hope.
Again, thank you for helping find my Binx. It was hard telling our Em that Binx was lost, but to see her happy when we found him made up for it.