On Jan 6, Guido went out for his morning walk. He never came back.
Our Guido is an early riser who adores his pre-dawn outings. He marches out, visits his personal paradise (the top of the garden gate pillar that has a jasmine plant), checks out interesting scents and then comes home for a hearty breakfast.
When he didn’t return, I thought he might be breakfasting at Charlie’s house. The cat across the street isn’t fond of our big boy, but his mum is.
By lunchtime I was concerned. By 10 at night, I’d called all the neighbours, the security guards, and walked round our street as well as the ones next to us. No Guido.
Cats hide when afraid and Guido has always gone covert when a car comes into the road or there are noisy people hanging around.
On nights when our neighbours have parties, Guido has waited till their last guest has left, before coming home. So, I thought he might be hiding and fallen asleep somewhere. Or, bolted and become disoriented.
As such, I went around at 2 in the morning, when it’s super quiet. Nothing. So, I covered the back lanes, almost breaking my neck on slippery moss, flower pots and various obstacles. And although Guido has never to my knowledge been further away from our house than the end of our own road, I walked every single street in our neighbourhood.
I walked the same area again at 7 and 8 in the morning, talking to people leaving for work, housewives, children, maids, and joggers.
I had my phone with me, showing them pictures so they could see his signature cute tiny tail and big-boned body. None had seen our boy.
I called all the vets, shelters, rescuers in my area, groomers, and asked all my special animal-lover friends to ask their friends to put out the alert.
I was incredibly touched by the kind response of help. One friend of a friend asked me to record my voice calling for Guido so she could play it as she searched for him! But still no sign of Guido.
After 36 hours, I had flyers made. I put them in letter boxes and handed them out to people in the street. The guards put them up in windows for me.
Then I waited.
People are very kind in my area, and within a few hours I had calls. However, the ginger kitties they spotted were not our Guido.
I also put up a Facebook post. To be honest, I hesitated. While I needed as many eyes as possible, many friends live too far away. Also, it would generate questions.
It may sound selfish, but I wanted to focus my time on searching, not talking online. Also, I was already feeling over-stressed.
When going out and about, I met lots of people who shared stories of lost cats and dogs, none of whom came back. I was already worried, and each new tale of doom added another pang. Worse, many speculated on all the horrible things that might have happened to my pet. I won’t share them; there’s no point in spreading those horrors, but it was painful.
A very wise friend suggested that this arises from people venting their worst innermost fears. I think she’s right, but knowing it didn’t make it any easier.
Apart from not knowing what had happened, it also prompted guilt and second guessing. What if we didn’t let Guido go out? And that’s a lifestyle choice that always invites heated debate.
Our view is that we live in a dead-end street, in a closed taman, and that the cats adore their walks. They are animals and their needs include being part of the natural world; it’s not something I’d take away from them.
If we lived in a city, or on an open road, or even a busy road, it would be different. But we don’t. We live in an old-fashioned neighbourhood where pets and kids play in the street while the adults hang out and fiddle with their gardens and cars.
It’s been a month now since Guido vanished. We are consoling ourselves that no body has been found. That means there is hope. But oh boy, it’s tough.
Please, if you have seen him or heard of him, please do send me a note via WhatsApp or text message at (+6) 012-285 3912. We want our boy back.
8 search tips when your pet goes missing
Pet owners who have lost their pets can identify with the anguish that one goes through when a pet goes missing, as well as the joy at finally finding the beloved furry friend.
Below are some tips on looking for a missing pet:
1 Cats walk on the ground, but they don’t take roads. They tend to cut across gardens, the tops of walls and over roofs. So when you think where they might have gone, think like a kitty, not a human.
2 Cats hide when scared. So, go search when it’s quiet, before first call to prayer and after people come home from supper.
3 Walk slowly, look under cars and in drains. Also, don’t forget roofs and trees! Call loudly as your pet may not hear you the first time.
4 Put a treat in your pocket, in case you need to lure your pet.
5 Connect with the people in your area by going out in the early morning when the air is fresh, and at dusk. Hand them a photo of the whole cat. You need to get the tail in as well as the face, for easier identification.
6 If you make a poster, be sure to include a good photo, the area he/she went missing and your phone number. If you speak more than one language, make it multi-lingual. However, do not add in languages you don’t speak because you’ll get calls you can’t understand.
7 Social media can work, but be sure to put up one post and then to share from that. Then, update the information on that one post as you go along. Whatever you change, will automatically be reflected on the shared posts. This is important because it will save you a lot of time when updating.
8 Gather your support group! It’s awful to lose a pet, so be sure you have friends and family who are there for you, unconditionally.