I was only on my second (industrial sized) cup of coffee Wednesday morning when my phone rang. It was a familiar number – a good friend and also the Wednesday morning volunteer for the kitties at PSP E. Amherst. A very AWESOME volunteer, I might add, who always picks up extra shifts, helps keep up with supplies and cleans like a mad woman.
Anyway, I’m thinking we probably need to order more supplements or buy some garbage bags. Something along those lines. The first thing out of Sheri’s mouth was, “Where’s ANDY?”. It took me a minute to process that question because the caffeine still hadn’t quite kicked in yet, so my response was “What??”. Again, Sheri asks “WHERE IS ANDY? There isn’t a note on his cage or anything did someone pick him up – did he go back to the shelter?”.
My brain is still trying to load her first question like a bogged down computer. I’m not a morning person, just in case you were wondering. Finally, I said “No. He’s fine. There’s no reason he would need to go back to see the vet. He’s not THERE?”. Sheri starts talking faster & faster telling me how his cage was locked & his bedding was rumpled up so when she opened his cage she thought he was just hiding. Nope.
Before calling me, she had scoured the cat room looking through the shelves we keep the bedding (where he had disappeared on her the week before) & looked all over – behind, underneath, around everything in the cat room. No Andy. At which point, she’s panicking.
NOW the caffeine had finally kicked in & suddenly my brain is in overdrive. “OMG! Andy’s gone?? Are you SURE he isn’t anywhere in the cat room? Maybe he got into the storage cabinet. Did you look UNDER the towels on the bottom shelf? There’s NO WAY he could’ve gotten out of his cage if it was locked. That’s impossible!”.
We quickly put together a plan. She would talk to the store manager & I would call the volunteer who had been on shift the night before. OK – be calm. There’s bound to be an explanation here, not to panic.
I talked to Dayna who gave me a blow by blow of the night before right down to the time she & her daughter had left for the evening. All the cats had been accounted for – in fact, she had given them each a few treats because Betty Lou was not cooperating about going back into her cage. She had coaxed her with some treats & so, of course all the other kitties – who were already in their cages – had to get some too.
I called Sheri back to tell her the news. She said the manager thinks we’re idiots because of recent events – which is a whole other post – and that Liz was being slightly sarcastic & nonplussed about the situation. Sheri was a little irritated she wasn’t taking the missing cat thing seriously. I told her I would get there as soon as I could and meanwhile she would go about cleaning the cages as usual.
I’m rushing around throwing on something other than my ratty Old Navy fleece lounge pants & sweatshirt, glancing in the mirror to check if there was any makeup left from the day before and just how badly I needed to wash my hair. My phone rings again. This time, Sheri said “Liz said you should bring a flashlight”. OK. Flashlight. Got it.
I decided a little mascara & throwing my hair up in a messy bun would have to do & everyone would just have to try not to look me directly in the face. The consequences could be epic – like looking at Medusa and turning to stone. I threw on some jeans & a t-shirt, grabbed my coat, double-checked for the flashlight in my purse & rushed out the door.
We scoured the store looking behind bags of cat food, behind dog beds, underneath the aisles, behind the fish tanks – no Andy. So the plan was to keep his cage doors open & put some canned food (which we never feed the kitties) inside. Leave a tempting bowl out in the store after closing and see if anything is eaten. Heather, one of the other managers, would bring in her live trap the next morning if he still wasn’t found. Great.
Driving back home, all of these scenarios are running through my head. Did he get outside? Is he stuck in a tight spot somewhere & can’t move? What if he’s behind/underneath something heavy and gets crushed? What if they need to use the forklift in the warehouse & Andy’s hiding in one of the pallets stacked with 50lb bags of dog food (or underneath the forklift)…? I was on auto-pilot all the way home because my mind was elsewhere.
A few hours later, Heather called. Andy had been spotted and was, in fact, still in the store but he was too quick for them to catch. OK – scenario number one can be marked off the list of possibilities – the rest remained to be seen. I needed to go back to the store. No wait – Liz says you need a group of people to man each end of every aisle and corral him. It would take a small army.
I went down the list of volunteers trying to decide who might be available and when. Even if I could manage to get a group together, it would have to be after 5 or later since most of them work or go to school during the day. I started doing the math: given the number of aisles in the store & one person for each end of every aisle, we would need every volunteer we had to cover that kind of space – plus a few more. That was just not possible. And every person I had tried to call went to voice mail (not counting Sheri who I had called with the latest update).
Finally, I gave up on that idea. Cindy, our Wednesday PM volunteer, assured me she would keep an eye out for Andy and leave the cage doors open with food/water before she left. We kept in touch throughout her shift – she likes to stay longer than most – going over the whole situation & next steps. Giving each other hope that Andy would be found safe & sound.
Heather let me know she would be going in around 7am Thursday morning and would check the cat room for Andy first thing. About 8:30 the next morning, I sent a quick e-mail to her for news. Yes, the food was gone but no, Andy wasn’t in the cat room. The next step was to put the live trap right outside the cat room after closing on Thursday night. Which was 12 hours away. All of those scenarios I had running through my head the day before were coming back to me again – plus a few more.
A few hours later, my home phone rang. It was Heather. “We found Andy! I was working with the aquariums and it was quiet when I saw a flash of orange out of the corner of my eye. Andy ran behind the wall of fish tanks so I rounded up some employees to corral him & he’s back in his cage now”. If it had been humanly possible to beam myself through the phone line, I would’ve been at the store in a nano second to hug her off the floor!
Andy had quite an adventure but very glad to be in the safety of the cat room and back with his brother. At least I know the second half of that is true. It would be very interesting to know just exactly how he escaped from his locked cage in the first place and whether or not he considered it an “adventure” or sheer terror! I’m thinking the latter…