Oliver-Henry (missing since July 26, 2009) Majik (adopted through Toronto Cat Rescue, December 30, 2009) Oscar (my mom's cat, who often visits, brought to me as a stray kitten in August, 1995)
The neighbour's cat. I call him Sylvester. Isn't his goatee great? The neighbour's other cat. I call him Tweety. He is a polydactyl, with extra toes.
So it has been 366 days since Oliver-Henry disappeared from my mom's backyard in Kitchener, Ontario, during a light rainfall, after slipping out of her back door. As many of you know, I searched for him desperately, and grieved his loss powerfully. But little by little, I've had to let go. Among the things I tried:
- Kijiji, Craigslist, and other internet classified ads - begging for his return on Facebook, on my website, and on television when I appeared on What's Your Point? in December - a Google alert that searched the internet every day for blogs and other postings for "found cats", and then sent that information to my inbox. I can now say, after a year of reading the results, that Michigan and Las Vegas sure have a lot of homelss kitties! - hand delivering 1000 flyers to homes in my mom's neighbourhood - asking employees of two of Kitchener's biggest employers (RIM and Manulife) to watch for him - using regular mail to send colour posters and descriptions to every veterinarian's office in Kitchener-Waterloo - enlisting the help of the local KW cat rescue organizations - having my mom visit the Humane Society every other day for six months (after three days in the HS, the pound act says they can be put down or adopted out, so you have to check frequently. I hadn't been aware of this before). - writing to several local churches, asking them to post his info in their bulletins-- offering author readings and rewards to nearby schools if they would share his description with their students - maintaining a list of rescue organizations both in and outside KW and checking it regularly for updates
Despite all of my efforts, I did not find him. And that pisses me off! But I do feel that I made every reasonable effort, so although I will probably still be unable to stop myself from popping into Kijiji every once in a while, today I cancelled the Google alerts.
And it wasn't in vain. I do feel that I tried (no more goldfish-type dreams over this loss). I reunited a few other cats with their families, just by cross-referncing "lost cat" ads in one place with "found cat" ads in others. And also by searching someone out on Facebook. I experienced small-world coincidences, such as when I was contacted with a possible lead by author Marianne Paul, who I had never met, but who lives in my mom's neighbourhood and coincidentally had done an author reading one time with my fellow Lobster Press author, Christina Kilbourne.
When Oliver-Henry went missing, I kept saying that when the time was right, a new cat would come into my life. Lately, I've also been "parenting" several others. My neighbour decided in May that he would let his cats out. He then began using his house more as a cottage, and as far as I can tell, he is home only on Saturday nights. The rest of the time, his cats live in and around my garage. He does seem to leave a bowl of food out on Sunday afternoons, but the squirrels, raccons and skunks clean it out pretty quickly. I didn't start feeding "Sylvester" and "Tweety" (as I call them) until they began tearing open my garbage bags, but now they (and another, seemingly feral cat who won't let me near him) come regularly to dine. Add to that Taz, the cat from down the street, and my mom's cat, Oscar, who is visiting, and one would think that it would be cat-fight city out in my driveway, but so far, everyone seems to get along just beautifully, and I often find them sitting out there contentedly, together.
I've always loved cats. When I nine, I spent a week on my aunt's farm. First place I went every morning was out to the barn to feed the barn cats, even though most of them were wild and untouchable.
Before that, I'd fostered a batch of kittens with their mama cat, whom I'd found out in the woods while raspberry picking one summer.
I like to think that what goes around comes around, and if I love and take care of Majik, plus the brood outside, someone, somewhere, is loving and taking care of Oliver-Henry.
I'm the author of four Young Adult novels, "Painting Caitlyn" it's spin-off, "Posing as Ashley", "Definitely Not Camelot" and "Maybe Never, Maybe Now", all published by Lobster Press in Montreal, Canada. I'm also a wife, a daughter, a sister, an animal lover, and a teacher.