Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

when you find a cat…

I was walking home today, at night, about 33 degrees, and I heard a meow. I meowed back automatically (my cat talks a lot), and she answered. She was crouched under a big utility van. I talked to her a bit, and then saw someone in the neighborhood taking out their trash. I called them over to ask if they recognized her. She ran to a different car as he approached, and he said he’d never seen her before.

I meowed at her again, and she answered, but she wouldn’t let me close. She was clearly stressed, but used to people, but…I am at a loss. It is dark, she had gone into one of the yards by the time I gave up my efforts as futile (and not wanting to get shot at by the neighbors or something).

She’s obviously not feral. She could be one of the neighbor’s cats. I never run across cats or dogs randomly like this, so it is outside my experience.

Any advice?

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9 responses to “when you find a cat…

  1. Laura Bennett January 24, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    When I first read this, I was jumping up and down thinking of the poor cat freezing outside in 5 degree weather – until I realized you do not live in Cleveland (I’ve rescued a kitten dumped off like that before – still gives me the shivers).

    So, assuming the weather conditions mean that the poor thing won’t die outside overnight, I’d just keep an eye out for her over the next few days to see if she’s lost. If so, she’ll soon get over her shyness for some food. If not, she’ll be home soon.

    Perhaps someone new moved into your neighborhood?

  2. Deb January 24, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    The weather report says it will stay in the high to mid 20’s overnight, which still seems horribly cold to me. She’s an adult, and she didn’t look skinny in the brief glimpse I got, so hopefully all that will help. At what temperature is it dangerous for them, overnight or otherwise?

    I’ll keep an eye out for her and a baggie full of kibble with me for a while. I should get a trap as well, to have on hand, just in case. (Not that I’d know how to use one!)

    I don’t think anyone new moved in the neighborhood recently, but it is a neighborhood of many condos and homes. No highrises, but enough population density that if she was from a few streets over, I wouldn’t have noticed anyone moving in or out.

    I’ll knock on some doors tomorrow and ask around, see if anyone recognizes her description.

    Thanks for the help, Laura!

  3. girl least likely to January 24, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    i would probably keep an eye out for her, with treats like you say, to see if she might approach me. i get totally stressed about cats outside. that said, our neighbors let their cat out all the time (even in blizzards and cold conditions) and he will sometimes meow, but then scoot away before you can pet him. so i guess it’s possible that she’s okay with being outside and just skittish about strangers… but i wouldn’t personally be satisfied deciding that without hearing it from her people. if you’re worried about her and can catch her, i think it’s totally okay to bring her in and then try to track down her people.

    did you notice, by chance, if she had a collar/tags?

  4. Deb January 25, 2008 at 5:47 am

    I couldn’t tell if she had tags. She was a really dark calico with a fairly large white spot on her chin or neck, so I thought at first that she did have tags, but then I couldn’t tell. And then she scooted away!

    I’ll spend time this afternoon looking for her and asking people in the neighborhood. And if I can catch her, I will. There’s a vet office really close, I can bring her in to see if she has a chip, or maybe they’d recognize her as one of their clients.

    Thanks gllt! It is reassuring to know that cats in your area (cooold!) are sometimes outside in way worse conditions than we have here right now. I can’t help but to worry, of course, but it does make me feel better!

  5. Laura Bennett January 25, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Cats are pretty resourceful about staying outside in the cold if they’re used to it but I wouldn’t want the poor thing to stay out more than one night in that cold.

    If you have a garage you can leave the door open a crack to, that’s always a good way to catch a cat. Once she’s in, close the door. With some old blankets and some food, she’ll settle in. Getting her into a carrier to go to the vet might be a challenge but if you have trouble yourself, perhaps a cat friend might drop by to help?

    Alternatively, leaving a back door open a crack often entices a cold cat indoors. You’d have to supervise a trap 24hrs so the poor thing isn’t stuck in the cold in the trap all night.

  6. Mary Martin January 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    That used to happen all the time when I lived in Vermont. I’d have nightmares about the poor kitties freezing to death as I chipped the ice from my tires in the morning. And every single time, I’d eventually see whatever kitty I was stressing about a couple of days later. I guess they know where to go to get warm.

    It seems like you’re doing the best you can (another one of The Four Agreements raises its head!).

  7. Deb January 25, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Laura, I live in a condo, so I don’t have a garage or a back door or anything, but if I see her again and can talk to the neighbors, one of them might have an enclosed porch that they’d leave open. I don’t know any of the neighbors that have actual houses, but I guess this will be my chance to meet them! Thanks for that suggestion, I don’t think i’d have thought of it!

    Mary, thanks for the reassurance. It was hard to just leave her out there, but unless she’d been willing to just walk up to me, and then be carried, I don’t know what else I could have done! Maybe it is time to read the four agreements after all. I was at the bookstore today, and saw the spanish version on the counter as I waited in line.

  8. David March 8, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Any new sightings of the cat? any resolution? I recently found a cat (tonight) that is the most loving kitty i’ve met, she would answer and come running to anyone who assked. so i took her in for the night… I am not allowed pets at my apartment so I dont know what to do next. The local shelter says that an animal is either put up for adoption or euthenized within 5 days of arrival, so i REFUSE to bring her there.

    i know this is not directly related… but i need some help. I think The cat is better off fending for herself, even though she might get picked up later by the same ppl i refusse to bring her to. Should I give her to the local “shelter” (which determins euthinization after only 5 days”) or what are my other options? I can only keep her at the risk of loosing my apartment. I plan on taking her to the vet tomorow to see if she has an implant in her.. I hope that is the case for my situation, if not, please pray for this kitty :)) And I pray for your kitty also…

  9. Deb March 8, 2008 at 7:41 am

    David, I haven’t seen this particular kitty since! I can only hope that she’s got a good home in the neighborhood and just happened to talk to me on her way home that night.

    As for your situation, it is a tricky one. I had a friend years ago who moved into an apartment that didn’t allow pets, and she moved in with her cat. A month or so later she got an eviction notice that essentially said she had two days to get rid of the cat, break the lease, or be evicted. I don’t know if that is how things work everywhere, but it is something to keep in mind I suppose.

    If your landlord or apartment manager are the reasonable type, you might think about talking to them and showing them that you are sincerely working on finding a permanent home for the cat, and request a temporary waiver from the ban on pets, maybe even with an expiration date.

    I would agree with you that it sounds like she’s better off fending for herself (especially with your help, in providing her food outside) than being brought to the animal shelter.

    Taking her to the vet to see if she’s chipped is a great idea. I take it she’s not wearing a collar?

    If she’s not chipped, talk to the vet about what they’d advise for the local area in finding a home for her. They might have a bulletin board or an “adopt me” book that you could put her picture and story in. There’s also pet finder, which can be a help both in finding a home or maybe even finding an adoption group that can help you.

    Look for a no-kill shelter (the vet might be a good resource for that as well), even if not in the immediate area. They are very often full, but they might have resources to help you find a home for her, and they might even be able to take her later, if not right now. And even if you’re keeping an eye on her and providing her food but having her live outside, it sounds like you could grab her at any time to bring to a no-kill shelter if they have room at some point.

    There are sometimes groups that are involved in cat rescue through networks of foster homes. Google might net you some results, but also ask the vet.

    And of course email all your friends and coworkers (always helps to have a nice picture, and include information about her personality as well) and ask them to spread the word.

    That’s all I can think of right now. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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