Have you ever stopped to read a lost cat poster? I seem to gravitate towards them even sharing photos of posters on social media thinking that everything will work out or maybe it already has and kitty is safe at home. The hope is that they just forgot to take down the poster after their cat was found. One time I called the number on a poster after recognizing an orange tabby I had seen from his photo. The person on the other end thanked me for calling and said that he had not heard from anyone else. We chatted for a bit and he told me that the cat had belonged to his dad and accidentally got out. Unfortunately the cat had disappeared from my backyard as soon as he showed himself, but I left the owners with some tips on how to find their cat. Sadly, I don’t believe this kitty ever made it home.
I will admit that’s where it ended, I tried not to dwell on the issue or why people let their cats out in the first place, as that way madness lies. Therapist Dr. Nancy Davidson, author of the book The Secrets of Lost Cats takes the lost cat poster to the next level as she delves into the stories and people behind them. After having had to create one for her cat Zak who goes missing, Zak is found after a very interesting rescue not far from Nancy, she goes on a seven-year journey of analyzing lost cat posters she comes across, reaching out to the creators offering a sympathetic ear and advice.
There are some cat posters created with lots of thought and others that seem to be thrown together in haste. What type of person creates a particular type of poster and do some people seem to be more concerned for their cats than others? There were stories that had me turning the pages in anticipation, with fingers crossed, of what the outcome would be and others that left me feeling sad. A great deal of cats who are lost simply never make it home. Unfortunately it is still a world where cats are not viewed or valued in the same way as dogs, cats are still seen as disposable (they are the number one animal in shelters and on the streets) and not every cat that goes missing has a human who cares to put the effort in to looking for them.
One story, demonstrating both the ugly and good side of human nature, that really stood out was about a cat named Shelby who goes missing from an apartment in New York City. It is an interesting lesson in empathy, or lack of, as well as the kindness of strangers and the reality that sometimes those who we least expect to disappoint us, do.
The Secrets of Lost Cats is as much about the human experience as it is about the cats, the relationships we have with them and each other. It is about the emotional lives of people behind the posters and how far some will go to be reunited with a cat considered to be a family member. The book asks and will leave you thinking “What would you do for love?”. The other side is it may convince you that keeping your cats inside, or giving them access to a safe outdoor enclosure, is better than going through the worry that comes with creating your own lost cat poster.
The Secrets of Lost Cats can be purchased at online retailers like Amazon and is a thoughtful read to end the summer with.