The Not-So-Stray Cat

Cat Owners, Take Note
I’m sorry in advance that this is a bit of a lecture, but if your cat isn’t microchipped, it should be. Whether it spends its time outdoors, indoors, or some combination of the two; whether it’s young or old; whether it wears a collar and tag or not. Microchipping is relatively cheap (a one-time cost of $45, on average), takes all of two minutes to do, and is no more painful than your cat getting its vaccinations. And if you need some statistics, a microchipped cat is 20 times more likely to be reunited with its owner than one without a chip, about 40% versus 2% of lost cats (source: HomeAgain).

There are many stories of microchipped cats finding their way home months, or even years, after they were lost. But I’d like to share this story not from an owner’s point of view, but from a finder’s.

The Stray Cat
As a shelter volunteer, I’m always on the lookout for stray cats. It’s sad, but many owners allow their cats to venture outdoors in a city, despite the cars, busy streets, rough terrain, disease, etc. I know Boston is a much smaller city than most, and not too far from downtown there are many more trees and parks than one might expect, but that doesn’t stop Boston from being a city. Not only that, but in the lower socioeconomic neighborhoods (and some higher ones, too), pets are often abandoned as owners move away, lose their homes, or become unable to afford the cost of an animal. So I’m always watchful for cats on the streets, because there are plenty of unowned, stray cats wandering among the owned, indoor/outdoor ones. Although it’s often difficult to tell which is which.

Case-in-point: I recently moved to a new neighborhood, to a quiet street where a bunch of outdoor cats live. As soon as I arrived, my eyes landed on an all-black cat, which appears to be a stray due to hair missing from its back (in a pattern that looks like flea dermatitis, although I haven’t been able to really look at the cat up close), and a couple times it strolled right past me on the sidewalk, giving my outstretched hand a wide berth. I’m currently keeping tabs on this cat whenever possible, just in case it really is a stray, and in case it needs some medical attention, which it may or may not.

One night last week, while walking home, I glanced in an alleyway and saw the black cat (it was dark, so it could have been a different black cat, I suppose). I slowly began to approach it when another cat—a tabby and white one—approached me and started meowing. He was clearly friendly and was rubbing his cheeks against everything he could, including my hands.

And as I continued up the street, not wanting to accidentally instigate a cat fight between the two, the tabby and white followed me. He followed me all the way into the stairwell of my apartment. Continue reading “The Not-So-Stray Cat”