This past Thursday, our cat sitter accidentally let our indoor only cat out while we were out of town. We were set to return the next day, and he's run out the door before, so we weren't terribly worried.
When we got home we walked around the neighborhood calling for him, we posted on our neighborhood Facebook page, Next Door, talked to folks who live nearby, posted lost cat reports at the pound, and still today, three days into it, no luck.
That is, until a very strange series of events unfolded. My partner's son's soccer league just changed locations to a field I am familiar with, the one right behind my school. I was set to drive and go a route I had already mapped out in my head, as it's the same way I drive to work. As we were leaving the house, we remembered we had loaded my partner's car with extra mulch for my class garden at school, so we decided to take his car and kill two birds with one stone and drop off the garden supplies while M played.
As we pulled out, I wasn't paying attention to give him my directions, and we ended up going two blocks in the opposite direction before I noticed and corrected him. As we turned left to correct course, down a street that weaves through the apartments near our house, we saw a sign zip tied to the stop sign. On a piece of wood in thick marker it read, "Found Cat" and a phone number. We all quickly looked at each other and freaked out a bit. I took a picture of the sign with my phone to capture the information, and we gave it a call. As the phone was ringing my partner's son was exclaiming his joy, so relieved to have found our pet. My partner was trying to coach him that it was okay to think positively, but not to get our hopes too high until we found out if that found cat was ours,
A man answered the call and through a static connection we managed to match descriptions. He asked if we could text him a photo, to be sure, and he would call back. We sent the picture and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, after what felt like forever (3 minutes), he called back and confirmed. Joy!
I asked him if we could come get our beloved cat right away. He agreed and told us where he lived. As he provided his location, I shot my partner a skeptical look, sensing a scam. He was not in our neighborhood, not even close! He was almost 20 miles away! I couldn't conjure up a logical explanation - why would someone scoop up a lost cat in a neighborhood that isn’t theirs and take it 20 miles from where they found it?? I immediately asked him to send me a picture of the cat he had, wanting to be absolutely certain we weren't being fooled into something (side note, I listen to a lot of crime podcasts so of course my mind went to a million ways we could be lured into a murder scene).
He said he would hang up and send the picture. So we waited again. And waited. And waited (4 minutes this time). The text alert popped up! .... It was him! It was our cat! In someone's kitchen, looking off into someone's living room. Oh my goodness! We called back and confirmed, then worked out the exact location for pick up and were on our way, thirty minutes more in the car after soccer practice, scratching our heads over this wacky miracle.
As we were pulling up into his neighborhood, I joked that I should text someone about our situation, in case we really were going to get murdered (you know, so they knew where to find our bodies) I thought my partner would laugh at that and brush it off, but the weirdness of this even got to him and he said it wasn't a bad idea. It added another strange layer to all of this- texting our friend a very abbreviated version of our situation and letting her know we would message her again after we had safely completed our mission.
We pulled up and M and I stayed in the car while C went up to the house. I immediately started noting details about everything around us, and even felt relieved that the house next door had several guys out in the driveway working on a car (witnesses). A few minutes passed and there he was, our silly fugitive cat, in C's arms, looking a little sheepish.
What a relief to have him with us in the car, heading back to safety. We got home and I updated all the platforms I posted on and emailed the pound, then immediately ordered a new collar and name tag for him.
I still can't believe the odds of how we got him back - going down a road we never drive by, spotting a "found cat" sign that a random guy put up after "rescuing" a lost cat from our neighborhood and whisking him off into his, far, far away. What would have happened if we wouldn't have seen that sign? Would that man have checked our neighborhood pages? Would he have kept our mischievous cat forever?
Tonight I'm feeling grateful for how it all turned out. You just never know how lost things will make their way back to you.