Thirty Days of Solitude, or, All She Ever Wanted Was to Poop Outside

Things that happened in May: I turned 25, I got a second tattoo, and I nearly lost my mind because I’d lost something else.

Emily and I got a kitten in 2007. We adopted her from Salem Friends of Felines, of whom I cannot say enough good things.We’re crazy about her. I mean, look at this face:

Little Tilda

kitty Christmas

No survival instinct.

One night in May she got out the door to our 2nd floor apartment balcony and slipped out into the wild. We did everything we could think of. Missing pet signs were everywhere, posted on Craig’s List and 2 or 3 other lost-pet sites, eleven-teen trips to the Humane Society, and I may have tried some voodoo spells just to cover all the bases. Our apartment was just up the hill from a busy 45mph street, and on the other side that’s where Minto Island Park is– with all its running trails and streams and off-leash dog areas and wild animals. In the weeks following her escape we had both a heat wave and a set of thunder and lightning storms.

this was the most heart-tugging picture I could find to put on the LOST posters

Days grew to weeks. It was awful. But I was helped so much by the overwhelming sympathy I got. It was tragic news to my friends and family. Then there were all my friends and coworkers who had never seen my cat but knew how important she was to me. The most remarkable part though, was the reaction and support I got from strangers. After the thunderstorms a neighbor called to ask “I saw the sign is down, does that mean you found her or did the rain destroy it?” A man called to ask about her because he and his wife thought the picture looked an awful lot like a cat they had surrendered to Friends of Felines, and they wanted to see if it was the same cat and if she was okay. I never thought people would call the number just to see IF this cat on the sign had come home. I got an email from a lady in Gresham that saw a cat at the shelter there that looked a little like Matilda (I think it’s a long lost sister, the other’s name was Belinda). The lady who works at the storage facility next to the park said she’d seen a brown cat around and would call if she saw her again, and offered the use of their golf cart to scout around the garages. Everyone who called me was so encouraging and hopeful. Except for that one jerk that started texting me asking to be my friend and to go out to dinner. I’m actually not making that up.

I call her the 24 hour kitty.

Over the course of many conversations with many friends I found out that almost none of them knew about micro-chipping animals. Before we adopted her from Friends of Felines, they made sure she’d had all her immunizations, been spayed, and had a micro-chip ID tag. So pass it around: if you find a stray animal, take it to a vet or a shelter and ask them to see if it’s micro-chipped. After a full month had passed I concluded someone was keeping her. And I concluded I needed a new cat because our apartment was painfully boring without a creature running around making funny noises. I adopted Foxy from Friends of Felines. The paperwork asks about current/previous pets and such, I explained to the lady that my cat had run away, and this was the new kitty. She asked how long my cat had been gone, and I turned around and pointed to the LOST sign I’d put on their wall “That one. A month.” She told me about someone who’d lost their cat, got a new one, and then someone found the first one; apparently this lady didn’t want to take the old one back since she’d replaced it. I assured her I would take Matilda back ANYTIME.

No joke: 24 hours after saying that, I get a phone call from Friends of Felines and I naturally assume it’s about this Foxy little kitty that had spent the night cuddling inside my sweatshirt. “One of our volunteers brought in a brown calico this afternoon, and we scanned her microchip.” I pulled the car over, just in case I fainted or something. She listed off the information that came up– my name, number, and address, and the name Cinnamon (we renamed her shortly after bringing her home). Yes!! Cinnamon is mine!! They were going to close up shop for the night in a half hour or so, she said that they could give her a bed and I could come in the morning. “I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”

the most exhausted kitty ever

That afternoon, Matilda had camped her pitiful self outside a door, meowing her face off. The door is in the apartment building across the street. Behind the door is every cat-lover’s hero, Florence. She told me that “…she’s just the sweetest little friendly kitty, but she hasn’t stopped meowing!” True. Every exhale was a pitiful meow, I could hear it in the background when I was on the phone, and before I got her out of the box, and then for an hour after she came home. I don’t know how many lives Matilda used up to get to the door to that apartment. Florence is a volunteer at Friends of Felines. She brought Matilda in to scan the chip and…

The box has 2 holes and she will use them both.

…the cat who is apparently loved by friends and strangers alike made it home after a full month in the wild. She was very thin and very dirty, so we think Florence was the first to take her in. Friends of Felines happily took Foxy back and refunded the adoption fees; I’m sure she didn’t stay there long, she was a fabulous kitty.

But, miraculous beats fabulous any day.



  1. DS said,

    June 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

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