Our beloved outdoor cat Oscar went missing on Dec 11 last year. After talking to neighbors we found out that he had got caught in a possum trap kept in a neighbor’s truck. Nobody knows how long he was in there till he was seen and let out by our neighbor. We are assuming it has to be at least four hours as he did not show up to eat breakfast at our front porch and they let him out around lunch time.
Our neighbor told us that Oscar seemed fine but looked spooked and ran towards the forest. I was grateful to know that he was not injured but it deeply upset me to imagine how traumatic it would have been for him to be trapped in there. He hates being closed in like that as whenever we took him to the vet in a netted bag he would be crying all the way.
At first, we thought he would hide in the forest for a while and come back home in three or four days but he did not. We kept food and cameras out only to see that possums were eating that food. We hoped for a christmas miracle but that was not to be.
New years passed in a gloom and when people wished me happy new year I felt like telling them that my new year is not happy at all. Oscar was part of our family. I thought of him as my youngest child. Armaan told me I am his grandma. He considered Oscar to be his baby but I was not ready to be grandma yet!
Oscar belonged to our neighbors and he grew up on our cul de sac. When his family moved to Utah in the summer of 2018, they asked us to adopt Oscar who was seven years old at that time.
Now, my husband and I, we are not pet people. We did not grow up with pets, we are exhausted raising three kids and did not think we can handle any more. However, my boys love animals. Armaan told us it would be no work at all as we would only have to feed him. Since he is an outdoor cat, he can take care of all his business outdoors by himself. We agreed and slowly but surely we all got really attached to this little cat. He would come indoors too for fifteen or twenty minutes four or five times every day and play with us and we enjoyed his antics.
When he went missing, I really missed seeing his cute face showing up on my glass sliding door in the back deck and the porch upfront. I missed him jumping out of the bushes to greet me and roll on his tummy in the driveway. I missed him stretching and yawning and blinking his eyes at me. Even though he was quite an anti-social loner cat who was not very expressive, we knew he loved us. When I would hold out my hand he would bump his head on my closed fist. Armaan had taught him to jump on the table to get treats and we enjoyed seeing him jump as soon as he heard the sound of the treat bag opening.
Whenever I passed the cat food aisle in the grocery store my heart broke a little. Oscar came in my dreams and I often teared up looking at his pictures and videos on my phone. On days it would thunderstorm I would think of him and hope he was okay as he did not like thunderstorms
With every passing day, the chances of him coming back home seemed more remote. I was really worried how this would impact my kids who have never had to deal with loss before but they took it in their stride and did not let this make them despondent. They told me that Oscar is a tough cat and a survivor, he is a hunter who can feed himself and he is smart enough to not be eaten by a coyote. They were sure that he is fine and safe wherever he is. I wasn’t. I always imagined the worst.
When I told my kids, I wish his old family had taken him with them so I would not have to deal with all of this despair of losing him, Armaan asked me, “ Aren’t you better off from this experience, of knowing Oscar and loving him, even though it bought heartache in the end?” I realized he was right. It is definitely better to have loved and lost than to not know the love of animals at all.
I was constantly searching online Lost and Found pet groups and made some incredible friends there. Karen Fitch who lost and found her cat after three months really offered me moral support and told me never to lose hope. Her story was featured in winter 2020 edition of Southern Paws and Tails Magazine.
She and Christa Martin(another friend I met online) came home, looked in the sewage pipe, under the back porch, and the forest with us. Karen lent us her trail camera to put at various locations in the forest. We both had very strong instincts that he was close by.
Around three weeks back I finally returned Karen her camera as Oscar was nowhere to be seen. Karen google earthed our house to see the houses our backyard forest connects with. She found a horse farm and told me that chances of Oscar being at the house with the horse farm will be high as there is food there.
I talked to Karen about this on a Saturday and that Sunday about three weeks back Ajay was driving Arjun back to Atlanta. They had just left when Arjun called and excitedly told me that they saw Oscar in the driveway of a house. These houses on the stretch of road which connects to the highway are really private houses with very long roads leading into their driveways. Ajay parked by the side of the road and Oscar sat and stared at them from far. Then he ran away to a shed in the back. When they told me the address of this house it was the neighboring house to the house that had the horse farm. I was cautiously optimistic but we had to confirm.
I tracked the horse farm lady on facebook after finding her name on property records. I contacted her on fb messenger and she asked me, “how did you find me?” She was very nice after I explained that I am not a stalker but just looking for my cat. She said she had seen him too but he is very skittish and fearful of humans. She called us to come over one day when she saw him and we are so grateful to her for doing that. We rushed over and saw him in the forest next to her house running behind another cat.The other cat vanished but Oscar stayed behind and was sitting and staring at us from far for a long time. Armaan went close but not close enough to pet him. Oscar ran away again. But Armaan did confirm it was Oscar, same face, same white spots, same tail, same walk, same yawn….
We felt such overwhelming relief and happiness to find him, to know that he is healthy and happy. An interesting thing was that he was with a couple of cats we have previously seen in our backyard. I think, when he felt his life was in danger, he asked his friends for help and went to hang out with them. He is very resourceful.The place where he is at now is less than a mile from our house if you go from inside the backyard forest and maybe little less than two miles if you drive on the road.
Oscar is not ready to come home and we do not want to trap him and bring him home. I want him to come home when he feels comfortable and confident enough. I do not want to bring him when he is not ready.
He is so close yet so far away and I wish I could have him home this very instant but we will be patient and let him warm up to us again. I will imagine he is off to college having fun with friends and maybe he will come home for summer break!
More than anything else I am so grateful to God for showing us a glimpse of this cat, to know that he is fine and am praying he agrees to come back home to us soon. I am also thankful for friends and family who cared, who asked about him, who prayed and who helped us find him.