I first learned about Skye when her guardian, Mariana Abdala, read my blog “Remembering Monet” which detailed the story of a missing cat that was not missing at all (but was found deceased inside her own home). Mariana
contacted me stating that her sick cat Skye had been missing for two weeks from her home in Menlo Park, CA. Skye had lymphoma and had just gone through a round of chemotherapy. The next morning at 2:00 a.m., Skye went out her cat door and was not seen again.
Mariana did all the right things to search for Skye. Her family had been through this before. As it turns out, Mariana’s Mom, Nini Abdala, previously used my services back in 1999 when my search dog Rachel searched for their missing cat Manuel. My volunteers and I were called out ONE MONTH after Manuel had disappeared. Nini assumed Manuel was dead but just wanted to find his body so she could bury him. We searched the houses in Manuel’s neighborhood but we did not find him.
A week later, Nini Abdala called and said they’d found Manuel. He had been trapped underneath a neighbor’s house (directly behind Nini’s home). The neighbor had placed brand new screens at the base of their house, entombing Manuel underneath their home. He was emaciated and dehydrated but he was alive! The house that Manuel was under was one that my volunteers and I did NOT search because the home owner was gone the day we were there.
The fact that a 14-year-old cat survived FIVE WEEKS without food (and likely limited rain water) is proof that cat owners give up too soon. The fact that Manuel was trapped within his own territory within a one-house radius of his home is proof that cat owners need to physically search their neighbor’s yards for their own lost cat! To this day I talk about the Manuel investigation in my presentations to demonstrate the importance of actually searching a missing cat’s territory. The Manuel search was filmed for the TV show Pets Part of the Family and can be viewed here (and yes, the host of the show was ”Radar O’Reilly” from the TV show M.A.S.H.).
Fast forward 11 years to 2010 when Nini’s daughter, Mariana contacted me about Skye. She had learned from the Manuel case. She conducted an aggressive search of her neighbor’s yards. She hired a pet detective with search dogs who searched the area but did not find Skye. She offered a large reward and made sure that all of her neighbors knew that Skye was missing. As instructed by the pet detective (and outlined on Missing Pet Partnership’s 5 + 5 + 55 Posters page) Mariana created giant, neon lost cat posters to help market her lost cat.
One clue was that the day Skye disappeared a fence at the apartment complex was torn down and rebuilt. I suspected that this construction could have scared or confused Skye and that perhaps she was not hiding due to her illness. I encouraged Mariana to consider that Skye could simply be displaced into an unfamiliar area and to keep up her search efforts. A week later, I received the following e-mail from Mariana:
Great news! Skye was found Sunday, Halloween morning! She was 3 1/2 blocks away from us on Oak Grove and Pine Streets, slinking around in a hole in a neighbor’s yard. A 15-year old girl from happened to see her on the way to church, coaxed her over by calling her name, and took her home to put her in the bathroom with some food. The girl’s parents came by our place and told us their oldest daughter had found our cat. We didn’t believe it at first, because there had been so many false sightings of Skye that spanned from SRI to Atherton, but when we went back to their home, there she was, significantly skinnier, really dehydrated, but alive and overall well! I guess the loud hot pink posters worked! Could a human being have survived as a homeless person with lymphoma, the day after undergoing chemotherapy? Maybe I underestimate the will to survive, but this kitty is tough as nails. Finding Skye has been one of the happiest moment of my life. I am so thankful for the support I received from you and I feel blessed to have Skye back after three long, excruciating weeks.
I was delighted to hear that Mariana was reunited with Skye. It is a breath of fresh air when we work with cat owners who keep an open mind, who do not lock onto one theory (i.e. coyotes killed my cat, my cat went off to die, etc.) and who maintain an aggressive effort to recover their missing cat. A 14-year-old cat trapped under a house for 5 weeks without food and fresh water. A cat sick with cancer found 3 weeks later over 3 blocks from home. Who says that miracles don’t happen?