Domino couldn’t have picked a worse possible time to go missing.
It was the night before our weeklong family summer vacation, and our big galoot was not coming inside the house. It was getting late, I was too tired to go looking for him, and Domino had spent the night outside a few times before. This was no biggie. I wasn’t worried. He will be back in the morning… meowing at our back patio doors. He’s an outdoor cat. He always comes back.
Except this time, he didn’t. He wasn’t waiting for me at the patio doors first thing in the morning and all of a sudden, it WAS a big deal. We were leaving at NOON! As the clock ticked away, I feverishly searched all of his favourite haunts within his one block “circuit” around our house. No sign of him.
I warned our next-door neighbour that he would only have to feed our other cat, Sasha, and that he would have to keep an eye out for our big galoot. He assured me that Domino would be home before we knew it, and we took off for a weeklong adventure in the mountains of Jasper National Park hoping for the best.
A couple of days into our getaway, there was still no sign of Domino, but then my phone rang! My hopes were momentarily raised when the voice on the other end began with: “Hi there, I just found…”
My mind immediately raced to cut him off as he spoke – Yes? YES? YESSSSS?? FOUND WHAT? WHAT!!!
“I just found your dog’s collar in the middle of a school field and was wondering where I could drop it off?”
My hopes were dashed and my heart sank as I gave him our address so he could drop our “dog’s” collar in our mailbox. Now, Domino was out there, with no identification. And, to make matters worse, the fact that he had lost his breakaway collar could mean he was in some kind of a scrap!
OK, this was getting serious. I needed to get the word out that Domino was missing! So, I posted a notice on my neighbourhood social media app called “Nextdoor” and was advised to also post on a very well viewed missing pet Facebook page called YYC Pet Recovery. I immediately received multiple shares and many pledges to keep an eye out for our big galoot.
As soon as we came back from our vacation, I really ramped up my efforts.
- I printed off hundreds of missing cat flyers and hit the streets, delivering them to homes and local businesses.
- I had my neighbour place Domino’s litter box and my old shoes outside the house before we came home.
- I registered Domino as lost with the City Pound, Humane Society, and local vet clinics.
- I contacted several other Animal Rescue Organizations.
- I visited the city pound, just in case the microchip wasn’t working. I even looked through their “dead cat binder” to see if any of the dead animals brought in was our big galoot. (That was unpleasant)
- I alerted the microchip company and updated Domino’s status as LOST.
- I talked to neighbours and complete strangers to get the word out.
- I checked the photos of cats impounded at the City and Humane Society every day.
- Most importantly, I hit the streets, multiple times, both during the day and LATE at night… like 2:00 AM, calling for him, clanging his food bowl and shaking a bag of his cat treats.
After several fruitless days of absolutely nothing happening, the floodgates finally opened, and a barrage of HOT TIPS came my way!
HOT TIP #1: A man just a few blocks from our house called me up about a week after Domino’s disappearance. He seemed pretty damn sure he spotted our cat just a couple doors down from his house. On the third night of looking around, Lianne and I finally stumbled upon this guy two doors down from the alleged Domino sighting:
We texted this photo to the man, and sure enough… this was the cat he thought was our big galoot. Really, it wasn’t even close. But, I did appreciate the effort. Hopes: dashed.
HOT TIP #2: A woman who saw my missing cat post on the Facebook page seemed pretty POSITIVE that she saw Domino in her neighbourhood! The problem was, the sighting was a 20 minute drive from our house. How could Domino possibly trek over 20 kilometres from our home? Well, we thought perhaps he was catnapped, and then dumped far, far away! I decided we needed to check it out. Not only was the “hot tip” a dead end, Abby and I nervously walked one of the sketchiest streets in the entire city and felt lucky to escape in one piece. Hopes: double dashed.
HOT TIP #3: I had put my missing cat posters in a few local businesses, including the local pet food store. Just a couple of days later, the store called me saying that a customer JUST SAW OUR CAT 30 MINUTES AGO! Wow, this was a scorching hot tip, and the sighting was only five blocks from our house! Once again, Lianne and I hit the streets, and there was a cat… exactly where the tipster said he would be. For a split second, Lianne told me her heart jumped out of her chest… but alas; it was just a lookalike, and a pretty darn good one. Hopes: triple dashed.
(NOT SO) HOT TIP #4: This time, a woman who saw my flyer in her mailbox called me directly on my cell phone and excitedly texted me a photo of cat on her front step that she was quite sure was Domino. I didn’t even have time to get my hopes up, as even a cursory glance at the photo revealed this guy was ALL BLACK! I politely told her that the cat wasn’t mine, and what she said next surprised me:
“Well, do you know whose cat it is?”
Um… no? Does she think all lost cat owners somehow all know each other? In any event, there were no raised hopes to dash this time… just a well-meaning elderly lady. Hopes: I have no idea what just happened here?
“KINDA” HOT TIP #5: My missing cat post on the Nextdoor app was getting a lot of activity and one day, a man replied that a cat in a back yard next to his was Domino! He seemed so sure of himself, so I was very intrigued to see the photo. Again, I am questioning how closely people are inspecting the image I have provided of a black and white cat with a distinctive white stripe on his face. I politely thanked him for alerting me of this cat, but advised him he wasn’t mine. Hopes: only kinda dashed.
“KINDA DUMB” HOT TIP #6: I really have to remind myself that people are always well meaning when they reach out to me with a potential sighting of our big galoot. One night while watching TV, I got another text from a man who saw my lost pet post on Facebook. Wow, I am truly amazed by how unobservant some people can be. This picture did NOT get my heart racing, as it appears this cat is more white than black! Hopes: they were NEVER up on this one.
HOT TIP #7: This next hot tip actually came from ME! I check the impounded cats on the City of Calgary and Calgary Humane Society websites on a daily basis, and a couple of weeks ago I saw this handsome guy on the Humane Society page, and my jaw dropped! Wow! If that’s not Domino, then it’s the best doppelgänger yet! I immediately called them up, only to find out this guy couldn’t possibly be our big galoot. This cat was still endowed with his… manhood. Unless Domino magically regrew a “pair”, this was just another lookalike. And, on a side note, what’s the deal with calling him an “Animal in Custody”? What did this cat do? Is he a criminal? Is he currently awaiting trial? Does he need representation? In any event, when I saw this photo, my heart skipped a beat, thinking our search for Domino was finally over. It wasn’t. Hopes: painfully dashed.
HOT TIP #8: It had been several days since I had any hot tips, so I reposted my missing cat notices on both Nextdoor and YYC Pet Recovery. I immediately got a message from a woman who lived eight blocks from me. She had seen a cat fitting Domino’s description in her back lane and on her fence several times within the past week. My spirits were suddenly rejuvenated! I decided to print up a couple hundred more flyers and distribute them in the area of the sighting… and BOOM! Within a few days, I had THREE more calls from people saying they’ve seen my cat, and all of the sightings were on the SAME STREET or the one right next to it! The fact I was getting multiple sightings within a couple of blocks had us all very excited. This HAD to be Domino. Everyone I talked to seemed pretty certain it was him. I walked that area twice a day, and even went out late at night several times, calling for Domino, clanging his food bowl and shaking a bag of his favourite cat treats.
But, WHY wasn’t I finding him? Why wouldn’t he come out from his hiding spot? He knows me. He knows the sound of his bowl. I’ve used that method to bring him inside from our own back lane a million times. WHAT GIVES? Then, just a few days ago, exactly where the woman who contacted me said he would be… I found “him”. No, it wasn’t our big galoot, but yet ANOTHER lookalike. This one hit me especially hard. It had been over a month since we last saw Domino, and I had convinced myself these multiple sightings HAD to be him. It wasn’t him. Hopes: I’m pretty much done with hoping now.
Despite none of the HOT TIPS panning out, I must say I have been very impressed and almost overwhelmed by the response from complete strangers. There must be a lot of animal lovers out there. People really do care when a family pet goes missing. My Facebook post alone must have been shared over 40 times. I was not expecting this level of engagement and I am truly thankful for the advice, encouragement and notifications of potential Domino sightings.
So, where does this leave our search for Domino?
Well, in the last four weeks, I’ve delivered over 855 flyers to houses in our neighbourhood but I don’t plan on expanding my search area. However, I will continue to repost the lost cat notice on social media every week and I will keep on checking the impounded cats online… but I don’t know what else I can really do at this point.
That leaves me with the burning question: WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR BIG GALOOT?
I’m really hoping that someone has taken him in, and that he’s living his best life with a new family, because the alternative to that narrative is not pretty.
Because I’ve been closely watching social media for signs of my cat, I’ve also been reading about multiple sightings in my neighbourhood of both coyotes and bobcats. To make matters worse, some of these sightings are just a couple of blocks from my house! Add in the fact that Domino’s collar was found in the middle of a field near our house, and we fear he may have met an untimely death.
Everyone keeps saying: “Don’t give up hope”! And while it’s hard to keep the faith, all you have to do to lift your spirits is browse the pet recovery Facebook page to see just how many of those missing cats find their way home. I’ve recently seen a post about a cat that came home after 50 days!
But this particular one has to take the cake:
EIGHTEEN MONTHS??? That is incredible, but cats in general… are pretty incredible. They can certainly survive in the great outdoors on their own and fend for themselves. My childhood cat, Duchess, is a prime example of this.
WAY back in the summer of 1984, Duchess escaped from our trailer while we were camping at a provincial park near our hometown. We couldn’t find her and we were forced to leave her behind. Over the course of the summer we searched for her a few times, but she was lost in the woods and the odds of us ever seeing her again seemed insurmountable.
Then, in the middle of October, there were sightings of a Siamese cat wandering around the park. That HAD to be her, so we all made the sixteen mile drive and started our latest search. After several hours, it was already dark and we were about to give up. Then, we stopped a truck full of hunters who said they just saw a cat cross the road in front of them. WHAT! We started calling for Duchess, and low and behold, she came running out of the bushes and back into our lives… over THREE MONTHS after she went missing. It seemed like a miracle!
So yes, maybe our current situation is not as hopeless as it may seem.
So, now we are all stuck in this weird limbo – where we don’t know if we should mourn Domino, or keep on hoping for that miracle reunion.
Having one’s hopes constantly raised, then constantly dashed has certainly taken its toll. My heart is heavy, but we have endured worse pet tragedies. Domino was a replacement cat for Duff, who died over three years ago after somehow ingesting antifreeze.
That was a heartbreaking loss for our household, and if you want a good, old-fashioned cry, you can read all about it here. Having a beloved family pet slowly slip away in your very arms is incredibly sad and I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy, but at least it gave all of us closure.
Will we ever find out what happened to our big galoot? Will we ever get closure? Will we remain in this weird limbo for months? Years? It’s been forty days since we last saw Domino, but we haven’t completely given up just yet.
I’m still hoping we’ll see him again, and maybe I’ll get to experience two miracle cat reunions… 36 years apart.
Domino, if you can read this… please come home. We miss you.