It’s hard to sit down and write this now that I’ve relayed the message countless times to friends and family, coworkers, to all the
strangers new friends who have supported us in the last 7 weeks, and to my dear folks on facebook, twitter and instagram. By my estimation I must have shared this story dozens of times now.
Bishop came home on Sunday July 8th. Sunday was one day shy of 7 weeks since he had slipped out of a broken screen window and went missing.
Last Thursday Matt received a phone call where a gentleman said he thinks our cat has been around their house for the last two weeks. I had the day off, so in 100 degree heat, I climbed on my bike and rode around the streets and alleyways of the neighborhood, calling his name. Later we went driving in the evening (when cats are more active), calling his name, flashing our ultra bright new flashlight that reflects cat eyes. We didn’t hear or see him then either. This was no surprise. We have a long laundry list of places with possible Bishop sightings. When Matt spoke to the gentleman, he asked him to please call back, any time or day, if he were to see him again.
On Sunday morning around 9 a.m. Matt got another call, this time from the same gentleman’s wife. Her husband saw the cat again, it’s under their neighbor’s trailer. We flew out the door, and on the trip over (8 blocks over and 8 blocks up) we realized we hadn’t brought our blanket or gloves. We had become prepared for the worst, and it was very possible that after 7 weeks out Bishop could have become a bit feral, stressed and more agitated than normal. Matt told me that the wife said “don’t worry about the reward” and he joked that if it really was Bishop he’d gladly just them his entire wallet.
We get to the house and the couple comes out and explains that, naturally, the cat is no longer under the trailer but he might be in their neighbors back yard. While Matt hunts, I speak with the couple. They explain how this cat has been around their house for 2 weeks. The wife had noticed him on her front porch, saw his blue eyes, and had put out food, water and a blanket for him to sleep on.
To back up the story a little bit, we put up flyers (then were told by police repeatedly to remove our flyers :O), added his name to missing pet lists at all the local animal shelters, veterinarian offices, animal control, police station, stores and what have you. We handed out fliers to anyone who would take one. We posted to craigslist and placed an ad in the paper (we are grateful that the local newspapers allow for free lost pet ads) and then updated and reran it weekly. I would say we received calls or emails at least once a day. The outpouring of help, and support was amazing. People wanted to offer tips and encouragement, even if they hadn’t seen our cat. The people who called wanted to help so badly that they were 100% positive that they saw OUR cat in THEIR yard, or neighborhood. Of course 50% of the time they called the day after the sighting so there was no cat to identify, and the other 50% we were able to see the cat but it wouldn’t be Bishop.
Back to Sunday morning. I explained to the woman that we try not to get our hopes up too high, that so many people are certain that they have our cat, but so far it always turns out not to be Bishop. She explained that they were cat people, and that she knows cats and they saw the ad in the paper and this cat has blue eyes and the ad said he blue eyes and that it is so rare. She was sure that this cat was our cat. This is when the waterworks began. It’s not the first time that someone’s promise to return our cat had me chocked up either, but she was so sweet and reassuring that I really thought this might be it.
The couple decided to go around to the other side of the yard and I heard Matt call Bishop’s name for the first time. I thought to myself “Bishop will never hear that, you have to call loud” so I yelled his name a couple times and next thing I know the couple comes running around “the cat just ran under the trailer again” toward us. Sure enough we could see a cat under the trailer but it was dark under there. Matt was on one side and I was on the other. With the cats back to me I called his name and the cat turned its head in my direction and meowed. It looked like him, but at the same time I’ve been tricked before and it has never actually been Bishop. I looked over to Matt and said “what do you think?” and he said “I think it really might be him.” I’m getting choked up typing this. I immediately started bawling, right there next to the trailer. I think I looked under one more time, called his name and he meowed my way again and I confirmed that it really did look like him. At this point I couldn’t handle it anymore. I kind of scooted away from the trailer and just sobbed. I’m sure the couple thought I was mess, crying so much. I was also starting to get frantic. We’ve come this far, I don’t want to lose him again. I pointed out to Matt that it was funny that he was under this vehicle because there have been a few times we had him with us in the yard and when it was time to go back in he would run and hide under the car where we couldn’t grab him. It was like old times. I just wanted him out from under there. He was closest to where Matt was positioned and Matt was very calm and composed. Me on the other hand, I grabbed a stick that was lying next to me and wanted poke him out from under there. Everyone laughs when I tell that part of the story, but that was how desperate I was. I didn’t actually poke at him, but I did want to, lol. Fortunately the stick was too short so I couldn’t even try. Anyway, the gentleman ran into the house and got a can of cat food and Bishop came right out for the food. Easy as pie Matt was able to pick him up and transfer him to our car. The couple told us again not to worry about the reward we mentioned in the our ad. I hugged the wife and Matt came back and hugged her as well. We promised to return with the reward. I think I’m going to put together a little personalized gift basket to thank them.
We got in the car and immediately started heading to the animal hospital. He was just purring and so happy that we found him. I was calling everyone (family and friends) to let them know we had Bishop and he was safe in our car, all the while crying like a baby. Halfway to the hospital I realized that they might not be open because it was Sunday. Sure enough, our regular vet as well as all the others in the area were closed. We changed route and just came home. He has a medium length hair and looking at him he looks absolutely normal. Touching him was another thing. He was rail thin, I could feel every bone in his spine. Petting his head was not much better, I could feel the ridges in his skull, he was that thin. He has what we assume are scars from cat fights on his noes and ears, but other than that his fur was a little dirty but not as bad as what we imagined.
We brought him in and immediately he started doing rounds of the house to see if everything is in it’s place. Plenty of time had passed but he had not forgotten the house or us. He purred and purred like crazy and has become like velcro to our side. He’s always wanted to be around us, but now he’s crying at our feet to be picked up. He can’t get enough and neither can we of him.
The first day of elation made room for the second day of fears. Is he okay after all this time out on his own? We called the vet and were able to bring him in. We were worried about him being examined in his weekend state. It really would have been best if we could have taken him straight to the vet because he was just so disoriented and happy to see us, he probably would have let the vet examine him perfectly fine. Matt’s mom who had never been able to pet him before was able to pet him that first day. But by the second day some of his spunk had returned and the cat that growls, hisses and tears the flesh of the vet had come back out in him. The last few times we’ve taken him to the vet they’ve had to gas sedate him. We were worried that sedating him could be dangerous. Turns out there was an emergency surgery that needed to happen as soon as we got there and so when our vet met with us very briefly, and he really was no help at all. We knew the options and instead of giving us his opinion of what he thought would be best he just put it back to us. No tests for heartworm, tapeworm, any of the worms ;), feline leukemia, feline aids, dehydration, organ failure, nothing. We did get a one month treatment for fleas but only because I brought it up. The vet was obviously very distracted and didn’t even offer or attempt to examine him. It was either he is gassed before examined later or he goes home, it’s up to you. Matt really was afraid of putting him under and so we left the vet with no resolutions, and were told just to bring him back if he doesn’t seem to be doing well. I think we need a new vet. Bringing him home we think he was probably mostly just super dehydrated because by the second day his spine was already considerably less defined and today he seems more like a slim cat than an emaciated one. We’ve been feeding him small amounts frequently and he has been eating and going to the bathroom. Once he is doing much better we will take him in for a full examination with bloodwork, etc.
Most of our signs had been taken down by weather, or the police (see above) but there were a few locations that had them up still like our mailbox post. Many neighbors had offered support so I wanted to let them know that Bishop is home and I created a new flyer and posted it over the old one along with some balloons.
This has gotten wordy. I’m sure everyone has stopped reading by this point, but I still feel like I have so much more to say. I would love to tell you about how much I had under estimated Bishop. I can’t even begin to thank everyone who kept providing me with encouragement and support. Friends that sent me personal messages and shared their personal stories or tips on how to find a lost pet, people who reposted his missing flyer, folks who looked for him, others who called or emailed with possible sightings. If it weren’t for all of these people I would have given up looking for him. I think I mentioned in a previous post but I used to say if Bishop ever got out, he wouldn’t last a day on his own. Well, it was 7 weeks alone, on his own and he proved me wrong.
He is home, and life is good.
One funny last thing, my dad posted on Matt’s facebook that if he calculates it correctly, Bishop is now on life 6, and we all agree that sounds about right. Two emergency surgeries for digesting styrofoam and then foam packaging, and now this.