Just a few short days ago, I was feeling angry and sad when I hit "publish" on a blog post I didn't want to have to write, but a week after our cat Luna fell from our third-floor balcony and disappeared, I figured it was time to acknowledge reality and blogging is definitely one of my more powerful "working-through-the-quagmire-of-despair" outlets.
Fast forward 24 hours, and this saga is over. V drove down to Montréal on Saturday the 22nd to spend a bit of time with us and help us with Operation Find Luna. Just after midnight, as I was getting ready to set up a humane gravity cage trap that I rented from the SPCA, V and I went for a brief walk down our street. Part of the plan was, before setting up the humane trap, we would call her name and hope that she would hear us and feel inclined to wander back towards our apartment. I called out Luna's name as we walked on one side of the street to the next, cat treats in my hand.
V and I also took a bit of extra time looking in bushes and porches. I've become rather familiar with many of my neighbour's front yards over the past week.
As I was getting ready to head back to set up the humane trap, V was still crouched low, flashing her phone through a 2-inch crack in the concrete of our neighbour's front porch. It's built out of concrete, and most of the space underneath is inaccessible but it is mostly hollow. Leif and I had looked for Luna there repeatedly, with no luck.
"I see two eyes. With a white patch on the chest."
It didn't take long before I was back on my stomach on the sidewalk, peering into the dark. I didn't see two eyes. It took seconds or maybe minutes for the cat to poke her head out enough that we could see.
It was, finally after 8 days of having no news or sightings, Luna. I sent V back to wake up Leif and bring him there. It took us a while to coax her back out, she kept going back to hide every time a sound startled her — even my own voice was enough to scare her sometimes. What did the trick, with Leif there, was opening a can of some really gross smelling dépanneur cat food but that excited her enough to let her forget her fear. She was visibly smaller after 8 days outside.
She was, all told, found roughly 50 metres from our front door.
Notes for consideration:
Luna is a small indoors cat with all her claws, no collar, but microchipped. She's not friendly with other cats and takes a little while to warm up to new humans. We're guessing that this combination made her especially likely to hide instead of roam during her sudden unexpected stint outdoors.
Our best guess is that she's been under that concrete porch the whole time, out of sight around a concrete pillar that was hiding her from our flashlights. She was scared enough that even though she might have recognised our voices, she refused to even poke her head around to look at the entrance of her hiding place. When picking her up, we've noticed she's less bulky, a little more scrawny. She probably didn't try to leave the hole to look for food.
In fact, the whole reason V was probably able to see her in the first place, despite being a Saturday, is that it was the first properly cold Saturday of the season and no one was partying outside, so the street was super calm with few pedestrians, making her more likely to poke her head out when she heard our voice.
She was also probably hungry after 8 days, so the cat treats in my hand were probably very encouraging to her too.
She was not willing to come back on command, even when Leif was using a whistle that she associates with dinner that usually gets her attention. (Improving her recall is something we'll be training with her in the future!)
Anyways, Leif and I are extremely glad Luna is home, scrawnier but uninjured, and we're going to bring her to the vet in the coming days to triple-check she's really OK. Unfortunately, Leif and I both seem to be coming down with coughs and colds. We're really looking forward to a few weeks of just keeping our heads down and catching up on as much sleep and work as possible.
V suggested that I work on a "strategy guide to find your missing cat" based on our experiences with Luna, and it's a good idea. I'll probably make that into a blog post. We learned a lot this week, including some unfortunate details about the way the SPCA and Berger Blanc run that might be of interest to people.
...Also, it's 9PM on a Sunday, and my downstairs neighbour is vacuuming again. Weird, weird bookends.
PS: THANK YOU TO ALL OF LUNA'S ONLINE AND IRL HELPERS. YOU ROCK!!!