Many of you are aware of the long saga of our little cat getting lost near Lake Rescue, 500 miles from home, so many months ago. We are very happy to be able to tell you that he seems to be alive and hiding remarkably well not far from where he got lost. The fact that he got lost in a rural area with so few permanent residents and so many short term visitors has made finding him take a whole lot longer than we’d like. But these two recent sightings, from two different families, were very good descriptions of him and indicate what so many lost cat experts have told us: cats survive, they hide really well, and the key to finding them is having many eyes looking, and the knowledge of where to call when they do. Since his territory seems to include the Lake Rescue area, we want to let you know what we’ve found, and let you know a few simple things you can do to help us finally find him and bring him home!
Because of the nature of the area, one of the most important things you can do is tell visitors to your house – renters, friends, relatives, neighbors about his story, and ask them to keep an eye out day and especially night, and ask them to call the moment they see a cat, or cat tracks in the snow. Perhaps you can print out the information and post our phone number, web and email address. Suzanne and Genevieve, 303-912-9836 or 303-947-1329, 571- 216-4162, and web page with pictures and more info: NewtonsWindow.com/LittleGuy. Email SuzanneASuton@gmail.com.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
One of the sightings was right off route 100, just south of Benson Pt. Road, quite near where he got lost, and the other was about 1.7 miles north, near the spot between Amherst and Echo Lake - .7 miles north of the Echo Lake Inn. This was right across the street from a very good sighting of him in the spring, near a house that is vacant, so it is a very likely spot for him to spend some time, away from people and dogs, which a skittish lost cat would prefer.
The snow offers something we don’t get any other time: tracks! We have put a page on our website to help you identify house cat and other tracks, at NewtonsWindow.com/LittleGuy. Since there are so few cats in the area, seeing tracks gives us a lot of information about where he may be and where he isn’t. So please check all around your area, or places you may visit, for house cat tracks. If you see tracks that could be house cat's, especially if you don’t have an outdoor cat, please let us know right away!
The experts say that lost cats who get familiar with an area will have a route and several safe places to shelter and get mice, or food that people put out, along that route. With these two great sightings, we have a better idea of where to focus. Knowing where makes a big difference in finding a lost cat, because unlike a lost dog, a lost cat very rarely comes running out of hiding to its owner, so the owner has to spend some time in the area for the cat to get comfortable, often watching the owner from hiding for a long while before it feels safe enough to break cover.
Here are several simple things you can do:
1) Keep an eye out – keep looking out the window and along the roads as you drive, not only in these areas, but everywhere. A little grey cat will stand out more in this season. He is quick and able, and he is active at night, but probably also during the day sometimes. If you are able to snap a picture, great, probably he will run off too quickly, but with one sighting he stood still for a little while. If you can also pay attention to the way he stands on his paws, that will help too, because that is distinctive. Note also the direction he came from, and ran toward.
2) Look for tracks – especially after a fresh (even light) snowfall, and especially alongside buildings. Please look around your own house, and other places you may be. His area could be pretty big – no one really knows how wide a cat can roam on their circuit. Fortunately, there are not a lot of cats up there. If you see cat tracks, please make a note of where and when, and please call to let us know, right away.
3) Please also spread the word, because we don't know how far his circuit takes him, or if he might be living inside someone's house or barn. It is possible, of course, that whether or not this was him, that he could have been living for some or much of this past year in someone else's house, since most people who see a lost cat think "stray" instead of "lost," and don't always check to see, especially since most cats don’t wear collars. But Little Guy is microchipped, and has distinctive paws, so it would be easy to tell.
4). And this is very important - Please post the information in your rental so all your renters and visitors know to look, and know to call us the moment they see him. This is so important, because sightings are the biggest key to getting lost cats back, and renters would not otherwise know to call.
We are offering a large reward, but one person wrote to say that she was going to try to catch him in order to get the reward. This can make it worse, because chasing a lost cat can send them into the road in front of a car, or away from their familiar places. Please don't chase him! The reward is for information that leads to us getting him - it is not necessary for someone to actually catch him, as he is likely faster than all of us. He may come to someone, but only if they are low to the ground, arms down, talking very softly and moving very little – letting him approach them, rather than them approaching him. Lost cats are terrified until they get back inside to a safe place, so while it is possible they would let someone pick them up if you approach slowly, gently, and with your palm facing up, it is not so likely, nor is it necessary. If you see him, please look closely or snap a picture, and CALL US RIGHT AWAY. If you can let us know where and when, AS SOON AS YOU SEE HIM, we'll figure out the next step with you!
This has been long and hard, as you all know so well, and people say, “Oh, what a story this will be once he is found, a story of a little cat lost 500 miles from home determined to stay alive, and a mother and daughter determined to find him and bring him home.” But I think the bigger story is the one of a town that has rallied to help us – we were strangers to all of you when he got lost only five days after we got there, in a house we had rented only for the week - yet so many people have cared so deeply, and done so much to help us, as if we were old friends. It’s funny, but we chose Vermont as the place we wanted to spend a week after the long months of dealing with the fire at my house in Maryland, because of a simple comment Governor Shumlin made on the news soon after Hurricane Irene. The reporter asked “Are neighbors helping neighbors to deal with all the hardship?” and the governor answered, “this is Vermont. We are all neighbors.”
Thank you, all of you, for being our neighbors, 500 miles from our home, by looking, calling, telling renters, friends, neighbors. When we find him, you will all be a big part of the reason.