Christmas miracle reunion! This lost kitty is home after 52 days missing. Here's how it unfolded: Patrick had been searching for his escaped cat and moving humane traps around for a month when he found my "How to Find a Lost Cat" search guides and downloaded both. A week later, I got this message: "Hello Kim. I love and appreciate the Lost cat Recovery work you're doing. I’m an animal lover and I’ve been desperately searching for my cat. I haven’t found him yet, he’s been out for almost 5 weeks. I bought your tips video and PDF so have some better ideas now but want a personal consultation. Main concerns are optimal trap placement, disguise, best foods and how long they are effective in colder weather." Thanks! Pat During our Lost Cat Zoom consult, Patrick was out walking around the property showing me the woods, the pipe he crawled through, the traps, and where he had been putting them. Once I heard his daily routine and had a lay of the land, I could see what we needed to do. Pat had been setting/ moving traps twice daily and walking the property both day and night. He was determined to get this kitty found before Christmas. His boys had asked Santa "to being out kitty back" and Pat was doing everything he could to find him. Turns out, he was doing TOO much. Like many cat owners, Pat was thinking of his lost cat like a lost set of keys, in terms of "if I look hard enough, they will be found." This issue is that cats can and DO move around. They rarely sit still when they hear something large approaching, and you cannot sneak up on a cat. All the intense "beating the bushes" was scaring the kitty farther away, not bringing him closer. Added to the aggressive searching, the many traps out were catching other animals. Traps are NOT the magic wand Go-to so many owners think they are. They can even be counterproductive until you KNOW where the cat is. When the already-stressed kitty sees another animal caught in a trap thrashing in fear, they are much less likely to ever enter one --and may even start seeing them as a danger to avoid.
My strategy suggestion was to first pull all the traps, sanitize to remove all traces of wildlife urine, and back off on the heavy frequent stomping around, especially at night. Instead of Pat constantly looking for OBD, we needed cameras watching for him and a long stretch of undisturbed peace and darkness. Since there had been no confirmed sightings, I made a map of the area with key camera locations to first determine if OBD was still in the area. Next, I gave Patrick a list of the trail cams I thought were best for the money since he needed three.*
He ordered them immediately and deployed them using my special baiting system. The key was to lure his elusive cat TOWARD home instead of pushing him away. Within 3 nights of the camera set up, we had a definitive sighting of OBD! He WAS still in the area! The unique profile of the nicks in his ear made is clear it was him. He had been evading Patrick and the traps for over 6 weeks! Here’s Patrick with highlights from the rest of the story. These are heroic measures in my book, especially considering it’s December in Michigan: “Kim we have sighting!
Camera showed OBD appeared around 1:30AM Thursday morning. He had returned to the same feeding station from the first sighting.
I was actually laying on the ground waiting…. It was about 35 degrees and though I was well dressed, I was quite cold. I laid on my stomach about 15ft away from where he’s been coming for food. He appeared 3 times in about 3.5 hours but was spooked by any movement. I Each time, I'd try to make a call to him, he would sprint away for about 20 minutes, then return.” I waited another 30 minutes and this time, I stayed silent and approached him as carefully and low to the ground as possible. Finally he knew it was me. Scent was the key.”
The previous video shows the first time when Pat was able to touch him. After a few pets and a definite scent recognition from OBD, Pat was able to scruff him and carry him home to the boys.
“He was quite scared and scaled a wall but calmed down quickly. Within 10 or 15 minutes, he was eating and letting me and my kids pet him. He's crying quite a bit unless I'm petting him.
Although no signs of injury, he's so skinny. He lost a lot of weight. I plan on taking to the vet Monday. I'm thrilled to have him back after 6.5 weeks, you helped a ton! The trail cameras were really the breakthrough. I’m so happy he’s home! I cleaned up outside today, brought in all the cameras, tuna sacks, all my supplies, it felt good to put the can opener and feliway away.
The kids had asked for help finding him from Santa on Saturday: happy to be able to deliver.
"Thanks again for all of your help, 52 nights is a long time away from home, but thrilled he is back home for Christmas!"
" I’ll be recommending your "Lost Cat Finder" search guides and services to everyone I see posting on Nextdoor!"
😅Pat, OBD & family
End note: * for those asking what cameras I recommended, these are the tools I like suggested to Patrick: https://www.lostcatfinder.com/lost-cat-tools-and-tips