I found my cat, now what?

Four months ago, I was a victim of a violent crime in my home. That night, one of my cats disappeared.

I went outside this evening, and she was sitting on my lawn. After distracting her with food, I was able to get her inside and into a kennel. She obviously needs some rehab in order to help her remember her home and territory. I plan to keep her inside for quite a while before letting her return to her old routine.

She’s obviously been well cared for and possibly been given vet care. I feel badly for anyone who may have taken her in for a pet and who will now be having the same fears that I have suffered for the past four months.

I feel that I should post a found pet ad in the local paper, as well as scan for any lost pet ads. I also feel obligated to offer to reimburse anyone who has given her medical care in the past four months, or who has provided her with food and shelter.

What would you do? What would be ethical in this situation?

Wow. Kinda blows me away (in a good way) that someone would write a post like this instead of just “Yippee, kitteh is home!” (And my sympathy for your experience.)

I think what I would do is maybe put in an ad (or maybe some fliers, too) saying something to the effect of “My beloved cat found her way home to me in the X area after being gone for 4 months. I want to thank whoever took such good care of her. Please write me at PO Box XYZ if you think you’re that person.”

You could also ask the local vet(s) if they’ve cared for the cat in that time frame and if they would be willing to let the person know what had happened. At that point, maybe you could meet at the vet’s office to say thank you.

The person may or may not allow you to reimburse them. If they have other animals, perhaps a gift certificate at the local vet/pet supply store would be appropriate.

Best of luck to you and your “owners.” :slight_smile:

Thanks for the compliment, and those are great suggestions.

I think I’ll try the vet thing. I’m worried about just posting and add that invited people to SAY that they’ve cared for my cat. Lots of people could try to take advantage of me that way.

But if I ever get proof, I don’t see what else I could do, ethically, but reimburse them.

I wonder if I might be too appreciative, though. This is obviously my cat, she has a few problems that make her almost 100% recognizeable. But she isn’t microchipped.

Which leads to a new question. Could someone possibly say that this is THEIR cat and that I stole her?

I just thought of this and it is concerning.

You could always ask potential ad-answerers to describe the cat.

Oh my god, how embarrassingly simple. Yeah, thanks for that. (seriously, though)

::ashamed::

ETA: This still doesn’t help me prove that it is my cat and not theirs in the event that the people who cared for her want her back.

Endiqua had some good suggestions but I would be leery of meeting anyone or giving out any personal information for the reason you mentioned. What if they decide to claim that she is their cat and try to get her back from you? Do you have any pictures of her before she went missing and people that could swear she is your cat? If not I’d be very careful.

EEK, that IS a good point. Pictures would be good, or a vet that can vouch for giving treatment to the cat on your behalf. I never thought of that.

I also meant to put in my post above that the PO Box XYZ should be one you get JUST for the ad.

You know, just as a thought, you could put in a brief ad giving just enough information to identify the cat and just say that she came home and you’re grateful to the person(s) that took care of her.

Kinda sad that we have to worry so much about something so simple as saying thanks, but I’m glad these things are coming up beforehand.

Oh yes. We have tons of pictures. When my husband and I married, we were fostering ten cats. We have tons of pics, but this cat has always had such personality and been so goofy, that she’s been the subject of far too many photographs. Also, her strange meow, her goofy tail, and her vet records (out of an 80,000 person population, we had the thickest file at the vet, by far) make her almost impossible to be confused with another cat.

I want to be kind to the people who helped her, but I am afraid to acknowledge them. What if they manage to take her away?

OMG. What if someone has microchipped her?? THEN what?

You should certainly be able to take her back to your vet and find out if she’s been microchipped. Given the thickness of that file, I’m sure the folks at your vet’s office would know that she’s your cat. If she’s been microchipped, you’ll know exactly who’s been caring for her.

I’m really sorry for all that you’ve been through, and I’m glad that you’ve gotten your cat back. I think it speaks of a very generous, thoughtful spirit that you want to thank the people who’ve taken care of her in the intervening months, and that you don’t want them to experience any anxiety over her fate.

I don’t think you should put yourself through any more trauma over this. She’s your cat – you have photos, documentation, witnesses, and no need to fear that anybody else can stake a more legitimate claim to her than you can. If you are a spiritual/religious type, you can simply offer up a prayer of thanksgiving to those who took care of your cat, and trust that your gratitude will reach its recipient one way or another. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find you can’t bring yourself to do something more proactive, like placing an ad or contacting other vets’ offices. You’ve been through a lot, and you’re allowed to rejoice in the return of your beloved pet without opening yourself up to any new fear or trauma.

That’s my take on it, anyway.

Sorry. I didn’t make it clear. My cat was a product of an operation to capture feral cats. I adopted her. I moved her 300 miles away and she was an outside cat for a year. Last year she began to want to come inside to sleep. and I allowed it.

I never microchipped her, and if I never did so, I doubt anyone else would have. I 'll have her scanned, but the chances are … incomprehensible.

ETA: Thanks for everyone’s offers of condolences. It has been an agonizing few months and I doubt I’ll ever recover. But thanks for your concern and support.

Considering the circumstances, I suspect her temporary home wasn’t too far from yours. If she is to be an outdoor cat again, she may wander back there and be missing for a while again. For this reason, it might not be a bad idea to try to find the other “owners”, so you have contact information.

Growing up I had a cat who would regularly wander off and live with some other family for several weeks, then would return on his own (or sometimes the family saw our LOST notices and would let us know where he was).

If you have proof in the form of pictures and vet documents then you should feel comfortable that you can prove she’s your cat if it comes down to it. It is doubtful that anyone would have a stray they just took in microchipped and if she isn’t you should consider having it done in case this sort of thing happens again.

But I’d still be careful about giving out much personal info and if you decide to meet with these people do it in a neutral place.

nvm. people have already come by to bug me about it.

With luck, anyone kind enough to care for a stray cat would also be the sort who would understand that the pet had obviously had a previous owner, and they would realize that the cat belonged with the first owner (especially if they realize the circumstances under which the cat originally left home).

Good luck with this situation.

Cryptic much? :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you saying that folks have come by
a) to claim they took it in and now want to see that it is OK at your place?
b) to claim they took it in and now want to claim it as theirs?
c) to claim they took it in and now want to be reimbursed for holding on to it?*
d) to say they know where it has been and they just want to know how it is doing back home?
e) other? (Explain ________________________________________.)

  • And if they knew it was yours, why did they not return it earlier?

I’m glad you found your cat. After four months gone I would consider giving it to the family that cared for it if I found out they had a kid that fell in love with it. Not that it’s bad if you don’t. Sometimes sucky no win situations happen, that’s life. Get the cat to the vet to make sure it’s not sick and passing it on to your other cats.

It sounds like whoever cared for your cat for several months didn’t go out of his/her way to plaster the neighborhood with “Cat Found” signs, so why should you exert any greater effort to find him?

Frankly, I think the “Good Samaritan”'s conduct was a bit dodgy, taking in what was obviously someone else’s pet and not making a good-faith effort to find its rightful owner.

To be fair to them, I’ve heard (probably urban legends, but that hardly matters when it comes to people’s actual actions) about positively dreadful people answering those bulletins – people wanting to run tests on animals, people wanting to just do dreadful things to them…

I don’t know how things work where you are but when I adopted my dog from the city animal services I was told that since the dog was held for the required amount of days without anyone claiming her, she was adopted to me.
So if in the future someone saw my dog and said that she was theirs, legally she was not, they no longer had any claim over the animal.
Is there any possibility that your cat was turned in and then adopted out? If that is the case and you find the people who were caring for her, the cat might be theirs now.

I really hope that is not the case, but it is something to be aware of.