In my many years of having a cat in my family home, you'd think I would be used to the idea that cats by nature will get out and explore. It's in their nature. No matter how hard we try to keep our little fur babies indoors, they do eventually get out and if it is the first time, it is quite possibly the scariest.
If you've been following the adventures of Little Loki here on Petlife then you probably know that this little troublemaker went through some pretty scary stuff in his short life. By this point, Loki has fully adapted to his life as a house pet. Showing little-to-no interest in the outside world except for the occasional Kitty TV he watches when the front door is open or the sun is shining through the glass on the back door.
That being said, I knew something like this would eventually happen.
A Little Back Tracking (And a Story About My Other Cat)
When I moved to my current location, there was no Loki or Daryl, just my older cat Naomi. This was Naomi's first big move in her then nine years being in our family. The only time she had ever really been crated and moved from her home was small Vet-cations when we had to board her. The official moving day came and day 1 at the new house, everything is fresh, new, and exciting. I had spent a few days at Anime Expo to alleviate my own anxieties about a new and exciting house and adventure in a new city.
Everything was actually going pretty well until we realized Naomi was missing. Much like what transpired last night when Loki disappeared, I did not take this news well.
Incredibly long story short, we found her, hiding in our house, in an incredibly small space, under a nightstand. I was so relieved that she hadn't gone out and hadn't gone out and tried to find our old house, which is roughly three cities away. I know it's not as far as most animals have been known to travel, but for an overweight, very timid animal with an accident-prone history, it was still a scary thought for me to swallow. And luckily she had not gotten out and tried to find her old house.
About Last Night
Fast forward five years, Daryl and Loki are part of the picture. By now, Naomi has fallen out of windows and has booked it out of doors too many times to count and thankfully she never goes far. Finding her spot nestled in the overgrown lemon tree in our backyard or the dark and dirty crawl space under the house. No, I will never like it when she gets out, and she doesn't get out as much as she used to when we first moved here.
Even Daryl has gotten out. Never got lost, everyone in my neighborhood sadly knows Daryl and help me out when they see him running down the street without me. Daryl, I feel, has his own story to tell, so I'll save all of those encounters for another story more centered around him.
Last night, I took Daryl for his late night walk, which had become a routine and how he knew bedtime was shortly around the corner. I hadn't been quite done with my own walk and took a long walk after bringing Daryl home.
When I got home a good 30 minutes later. I had not noticed at first that Loki was not in the living room playing in his cat tree like he had been and usually always does when the living room is alive with activity. And at 9:00 at night, it was still pretty active for his sudden disappearance.
When I did finally notice that Loki had not climbed up onto the couch to greet me while I was brainstorming for another written piece, I put my stuff away and turned off YouTube which had been playing on the TV in the background.
I asked my mom where Loki was and when she disclosed that she did not know, my search for my little buddy began.
I searched everywhere.
Loki has lived with us for almost six months, by now I kind of know where all of his spots are:
- Under the couch
- Under the brown chair
- In his tree condo (lucky cat)
- In Naomi's tree condo
- Under the Futon in the den with Naomi (where Naomi spends most of her time when she wants to be left alone.)
- In the shower
- Behind the toilet
- Behind the refrigerator
- Next to the Washing Machine
- Pressed up against the glass to the backyard
He just wasn't there. I called out to him, thinking that I could hear him. I turned the house upside down thinking he was stuck or hurt. This didn't help my anxiety any and I quickly started to panic.
I'm not proud of how I react when the animals get loose or lost. I shut down and cry. I get angry, and I don't think of anything but the horrible outcomes that could arise if I can't or catch my animals when they get out. For Naomi and even Loki, I think my biggest fear is the many coyotes that roam like it's nothing all over the neighborhood. For just Loki, I have this fear that someone may find him and fall in love with him just as hard as I did.
This insane fear stems from the disappearance of Sly (a cat my mom had since he was a kitten) who a few years after I came along and he settled down just disappeared completely. And more recently my experiences with Robin, Naomi's biological brother, who disowned us and became a neighborhood cat, who favored a neighbor that lived three houses down, and for this reason did not make the trip to the new house. Because we knew he would have been much happier staying in the neighborhood where he found his new home.
When I still couldn't find Loki I took my search outside. Still thinking that I had heard him, I looked in the backyard and made my way to the front of the house, where I found that the giant door to the crawl space under the house had been opened.
I called out to Loki as I flashed my flashlight into the hole. I waited for a response. When no response came, my heart sank a little deeper into my stomach as the tears streamed down my face. I checked under cars and in bushes but by this point, I was in full freak-out mode and I decided to take a few laps around the block to look for him.
We didn't find him.
By the time we came home from looking over the neighborhood a few times over, I was so tired from crying. I came back in the house, opened his food as a last resort and checked the hole and the back of the house and part of the neighborhood with his food, hoping, praying, that if he was just hiding he'd come out to his food because this little cat will eat whenever and whatever may be happening around him.
I still couldn't find him.
And now I really didn't feel well. I came back inside and sat down. I cried again and my mom sat down next to me and comforted me. I still wanted to go out and search, but a part of me knew that there was nothing more I could do except wait for morning's light and hope that nothing bad would happen to Loki until then. I expressed this to my mom and up until this point had agreed and tried to ease the anxiety that was now making me nauseous.
I was in the middle of saying something when she rose to her feet and told me to move. She walked into the kitchen (which is where I thought I heard him 2 hours before) and followed the faint thudding sound to (this part really upsets me because I didn't even think to check this area of the kitchen) the pot cupboard underneath the microwave. She grabbed the thick wooden nob on the door to the cupboard and as the door swung open out popped Loki. He made a little stretch and ran into the den where he used the bathroom and continued on with his life. Unaware that I had been looking for him for 2 straight hours.
I started crying again, this time in relief and let my body react. I had worked myself up so strongly that as soon as I saw him, I felt what was left of my dinner come up and used the bathroom myself.
What an absolute nightmare.
If Your Cat/Dog Does Get Out...
Here are a couple of things to remember if your furry friend does find himself outside the walls of it's home.
- Do not panic. (I break this rule so you don't have to! But seriously, panicking does not help the situation.) If you're just like me and do suffer from anxiety, this may be just as difficult for you as it is for me, but it's really important that you focus on what you know and bury the horrible thoughts of what could or what you don't know is happening to your pet at the moment. If they did get out, they are most likely out exploring.
- Start your search immediately. If your animal just got out or you're not entirely sure when your furry friend escaped, taking action immediately can relieve some of that anxiety you may be feeling, it also greatly increases your chances of finding your furry friend. Make sure you have a flashlight, even if you're looking for your pet during the day, the flashlight will help you see under bushes and inside trees.
- Call out to your buddy. Make sure when you do, it is soft and gentle. If a cat or a small dog, they may be scared and may not want to leave their hiding spot so when they hear you the likelihood of them responding to you and even coming out from their hiding spot boils down to your tone of voice. This was probably the hardest to contain (for me because I had broken rule 1 so quickly and was already in a full panic.)
- Stop and listen for your buddy. If you're looking for a cat, if they are stuck (like Loki was) they may cry out softly so listen carefully in each area you search and let your ears be your guide. Remember: stay calm.
- Bring along your buddy's favorite toy and some of their food on your search. Your buddy, if they're not stuck or hurt, will be more likely to come up to you if they hear your call and are holding their favorite toy, treat, or their dinner.
- Don't give up. Recruit your friends, your family, and even your neighbors. The more people are looking for your pet, the more likely your pet will be found, safely. Check your local pound, if they were picked up they are most likely sitting in a shelter waiting for you. Spread the word and post flyers, letting others know that your pet is missing so when your pet is found they can easily be reunited with you.
Get your pet chipped. Collars and tags can easily be removed or fall off on your buddy's adventure. So getting your buddy chipped is a reassurance that if they're found by someone and taken to a vet or pound they can easily be traced and reunited with you.
And remember. Focus on what you know and don't let your anxiety fill your head with what ifs.