Update 23/09/2018: We found her. Thank goodness!
This week has been fucking brutal.
Tornadoes in Gatineau and lightning/thunder windstorms in Montréal aside, this has been one of my most difficult weeks in recent memory, even topping some really bad days this past March when I was terrified I'd regressed back to my old normal twice-daily panic attacks and bone-grinding, mind-melting continuous anxiety. (In other words, the kind of stuff that hiding away in a Minecraft marathon won't fix.)
Luna is gone.
So, because it's easier, let's start with some facts seared into my mind:
We woke up last Friday morning between 4 or 4:30AM because our second-story neighbours were running their vacuum cleaner downstairs in an inebriated ill-advised cleaning frenzy.
(Seriously. Ugh, guys.)
Then, Leif realised Luna was missing. We called her, and checked everywhere. And then, finally, I remembered I had been on the balcony shortly before bed to check on the plants, but I couldn't remember if she'd followed me out there — we don't leave her there unsupervised, because the last time we did that, she caught a stray pigeon and it was funny but awkward. Leif took the balcony at the front of the house, facing our road, while I opened the door to the fire escape and called out our cat's name.
Now, Luna's a homebody. I've never before met a cat — who was rescued as a stray kitten by Leif years ago — so happy not to be outside. She likes looking out the window and hanging out on the balcony in the sun, of course, but she's never tried to escape. It's not completely unreasonable to think that if she'd got locked outside somehow, she'd stick close to home.
By the fire escape, by the back patio of our second-floor neighbours, there was a person I'd never seen before sleeping in a hammock who told us he'd seen a black cat fall from our living room window a couple of hours earlier, but since they couldn't remember our phone number, they decided not to wake us.
(Guys, we live right here. Our bedroom is literally on top of your back patio, i.e. your pot-scented party lounge! Don't be like this!!!)
So, we knew the truth, Luna had fallen three stories, probably in an attempt to jump from the balcony to the bug-screened window, where she probably thought she had a better chance to meow her way back in. Leif and I were terrified the fall had seriously maimed her, but one of the neighbours actually saw her get up, and walk away, so we know she's alive. Thanking all gods ancient and new, we didn't find any blood or signs she was seriously injured near the site of the fall, either.
A week later today, Luna is still missing. We haven't even found any sightings of her. Leif and I have been patrolling regularly, posting on social media about it, postering all over our neighbourhood, and checking everywhere. Some sympathetic neighbours let me into their walled yards, other irate neighbours yelled at me to get out when I climbed through, under, or over fences, and a few nights ago one neighbour who knew what had happened decided to try his hands at drunkenly sexually harassing me! #YesAllMen
We've been calling the SCPA. Showing up in person at the SPCA. And at Berger Blanc (oh frigg don't get me started on them I'll never stop). Monitoring several Facebook groups, Twitter, Kijiji, Craigslist, etc. We have friends helping online and in person. We've spoken to our nosiest neighbours, and tracked down all the little old cat ladies in the area who feed the alley cats. We've even reached out to an animal behaviourist (shameless shout-out to Zoe from Zen Zoomies for being a champ ever time I contact her in a fit of anxiety). As is the norm whenever animal behaviour and strategies are concerned, we've got on hand a bunch of contradictory advice, tips, and guidelines, but we're sorting through it and we've been refining our Luna Finding Strategy. Today, my mom even gave me a hand and drove me several hours through excruciating Montréal traffic in a thunderstorm so that I could rent a humane cruelty-free trap.
My brother was particularly adept at trapping gophers as a child, I remember helping him design the trap he made out of scrap materials. My talent? I was always rather good at catching minnows with my bare hands. Let's hope these childhood talents for gently trapping animals have endured.
But what's been more discouraging than anything, honestly, is the response we've been getting from some folks, local and online.
Of course, the thing is, most people have been completely wonderful. Friends old and new, some I talk to often and some I talk to sporadically, have come out of the woodwork to lend a hand. Handling research, handling searches through Facebook... and also several folks have shown up in person, and taken care of postering certain streets and alleys, talking to neighbours, helped us look under porches and in every hidey hole. Leif and I have taken people up on lifts to the shelters that are ridiculously far by transit. The nearby very posh café put a poster in their window and have been talking to customers about it. The local nail salon even said that if we wanted to use their space in the back to try to find Luna, they would offer it. (The local grocery store promised to put Luna's poster up, but they've not done it yet, Leif or I are probably going to have to go again with another poster.)
But then there are the assholes, the ones who use this opportunity to both call and FB message Leif and I to tell us:
- That our cat is dead and that it's our fault
- We should never let a cat go outside, it's animal cruelty and her death is on our conscience
- How dare we not cover the balcony in chicken wire !!! We killed our cat !!!
- That they would never let a cat on a balcony off the leash, and that our negligence killed her
- If our cat fell three stories (as we marked on the posters) we are either lying about it, or the cat is dead, because there is no way a cat could survive a 3-story fall (this phone call was particularly confusing)
- That the Facebook post generated by Pawboost (as far as I can tell, an American-based website but that operates locally here too) in English should be in French, parce que câlisse, on parle le français icitte !!!
Some of these have been phone calls and FB posts from traceable phone numbers and FB accounts! The mind boggles.
Wouldn't it be easier to just not be an asshole?
Even if we only have one negative message a day, it stands out so starkly and drowns out the wonderful generosity of friends and other people because Leif and I are so distraught. We still believe we have a very good chance of finding her, but every day is getting more difficult, not less.
Luna's a tough cookie, but every day, we're running all the nightmare calculations — even the really gruesome ones. Wasn't it only a month ago that a friend who lives not far from us had their dog killed by someone feeding poison to dogs at the dog park?
Anyways, I've been updating my Instagram stories with video-journals of the search, and I'll keep Twitter and FB in the loop about everything. But I'm so discouraged that people do this. Though the weird part? Most of these people are not teenagers or young adults. Most have seemed from their profiles or voices to be of my parents' generation, maybe a little younger. Vicious boomer bullying aside, this is not at all my first rodeo with bullies, or even targeted harassment online. But I'm still so mad that some people see other human beings in pain and their response is to go out of their way to make that pain worse.
Much love to you, friends. This has been a rough week, and this isn't the most uplifting blog post, but I felt like I had to say something to record this. People need to do better. A lot of you are. Let's keep at it.
Here's another cute pic of Luna:
Want to be one of Luna's Online Helpers? Please feel free to share these social media posts:
On la cherche depuis 4h, des posters depuis 5 AM.— corbeau, sur un arbre perché (@gersandelf) September 14, 2018
SI VOUS VOYEZ CE CHAT DANS LE PLATEAU, FAITES MOI SIGNE ICI OU LETTERS@GERSANDE.COM
ELLE EST TOMBÉE 3 ÉTAGES DU BALCON, ELLE EST BLESSÉE ET S’EST ENFUIE. ENTRE MONT ROYAL ET ST JOSEPH, MÉTRO LAURIER ET PAPINEAU#Montreal #mtl pic.twitter.com/vCS3ng1LbV