Glittery collars are all fine and dandy
and microchips are so very handy
But despite all these I never thought,
how do you catch a stray that doesn’t want to be caught?
Foraging for food to fill his tummy
wanting so desperately to be home with his mummy
I felt so sorry, didn’t know what to do
So here’s a few tips should it happen to you …

Two years ago, a huge tabby I called Tabby O’Malley came into my garden. Clearly a stray who wanted to go home, having first spent a few weeks indulging in the gourmet delights left out on the patio and lawn here at Tom Cat Towers! She had been registered at my vets as lost and was therefore easy to reunite with her owners once she learned that I was a human who could be trusted to pick her up, put her into a carrier and take her to the vet where her family were waiting for her.

Toffee's wanted pictureAbout three weeks ago, a new kit on the block appeared in my garden. A beautiful ginger and white cat with the saddest eyes ever. He gobbled down the scraps I put out for Skitty Ginge, the feral cat who has come practically every day for about eight years. This new cat ate all the scraps then ran off. Next night he was there again, ate everything that was put out for the birds and Skitty Ginge, then melted away. It was clear he was either a stray, lost or abandoned. He had a green collar but was too scared to let me near him. But he was hungry. He slinked into the garden of Tom Cat Towers under cover of darkness and would forage on the lawn for scraps. I put food out for him on the patio so he could come close to eat it, then look in enviously at my three cats, Gabion, Reggie and Chav Cat, snuggled up in the warm, staring right back at him.

He was clearly a very loved cat who wanted to be in his own home. So, I began to trawl the internet. I had no idea just how many Lost / Found cat websites there are both nationally and locally. The majority are not updated! There are zillions of them, so I looked and looked. Nothing matched the cat I had now named Gimbals!

Two weeks later, he was still appearing every night at 8pm for a feed then he’d run away. I tried talking to him, but he would meow at me as he ran away! I was still trying to find his owner when, quite by chance, I came upon yet another site for lost cats and started to scroll down all the pictures of cats. I found a date which was two weeks previously, and there was a post with a picture of a ginger and white cat. However, this one had been reunited with his humans. I almost closed it down as a hopeless task, but idly scrolled down further, and there on a post, seven days even earlier, was a picture which matched my garden guest, staring back at me. I posted a message on the webpage and said ‘don’t build your hopes up, but the cat in my garden could be your cat so I’ll try and photograph the cat on my patio when I put food out for him.’

my picture matched the wanted pictureEasier said than done! Would he look up for the camera? Not a chance! He gobbled the food and was gone. So, I put more out. Same thing happened. Third attempt I managed to snatch a very bad picture of him with food in his mouth. I then put the ‘wanted’ website picture next to the photo on my screen – Bingo - they matched. This lost cat was my garden guest. However, I could not see any individual contact details for the owner, but there was a street name noted within the post.

He was called Toffee and had been lost from an area not half a mile away from where I lived. Next morning, I went and knocked on doors, convinced by lunchtime Toffee would be home. No such luck. Either people weren’t in, or those that answered didn’t have cats or know anyone who did. My heart sank!!

Next, I sent messages to local vets in case they had Toffee on their lost cats’ file. Again, no luck! But they said if I caught him and took him in they could scan him for a microchip. Catch him? Ha ha, Usain Bolt wouldn’t be able to catch him. He was a fast mover across the grass and over the fence!

By sheer chance I found the owners on Facebook and sent a photo just to confirm that Toffee was indeed her cat! He was. He’d been staying in a flat near me and had escaped. His real home was on the other side of town But, how to catch him. He was very nervous and would not let me near him.

It turned out to be so much easier than I could have imagined!

That night he came at 6am, two hours early. He was ravenously hungry and it was still light. I had baited a cat carrier with Dreamies, and threaded cord from the wire door through the back of the carrier and into the house where I lay in wait! He crept into the carrier, sniffing the epicurean delights that cats just go mad for, and before a single Dreamie had passed his tonsils, BANG!!! I slammed the door shut.

Toffee had been bagged!

The door was then secured, and Toffee was on his way home

He went straight to his foodWhen I pulled up in my car at his home with him in the carrier on the back seat meowing at me, there was a welcoming committee at the gate. They were soooo pleased to see him. He was carried inside his house like a returning hero where this three housemate cats were also chuffed to see him. The carrier was opened, and Toffee came out, ignored his humans and the other cats and went straight to his food bowl for a good feed.

He then came over, looked up at me and let me stroke him for the very first time. He meowed, as if to say thank you and that was it. Toffee was home… for good!

Carol Lake Tom Cat Towers

Toffee came to say 'thank you'.NB Toffee's owners insisted that they cover his food and my petrol whilst he availed himself of the facilities of the garden at Tom Cat Towers!  I declined as I know how heart-breaking it is when a furry goes missing. With their permission I donated the money to a cat cause. It has been sent to Strawberry Persian Pedigree Cat Rescue UK as Reggie and Gabion have chosen them as their rescue of choice.




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