20 hours of a lost cat

Ziggy recently went missing for 20 agonising hours.

Background:   When we got her from the shelter in January 2016, Ziggy had always been an indoor cat. After much research we decided it was safest to continue that, since we’re not that far from a main road.

A few months later she expressed curiosity about the outside world, so we took her out into our back yard. First on a little harness, then eventually without it. Ever since she’s liked an outside jaunt most days. We’d hang out with her as she lounged around the garden and watched the birds, sniffed a flower or two, then sauntered back inside after twenty minutes or so. Occasionally a neighbourhood cat would wander into the yard, and she’d whoosh over to scare it off her turf. But she’d always stop at the border, then get right back to the important business of lazing around.

Lazy Ziggy
Like this.

These excursions continued without incident for over two years… until two Thursday afternoons ago!

Here’s how it all went down…

3.30PM – Ziggy is flopped out on the grass as per, when a little black cat appears at the edge of our garden. Ziggy springs to action and rushes at it. But instead of stopping like normal, she leaps over the fence into the neighbour’s yard then disappears in hot pursuit.

Shit. I race outside and head down the street to look for her… but she’s nowhere to be found.

4PM – I return home and try to remain calm. I post a message to the village Facebook group. It felt like the best first port of call, as it has swiftly located many missing cats in the past. (And also provided critical updates on the availability of fresh bread rolls in the village shop during the #BeastFromTheEast!)

4.30PM – Gareth arrives home from his shift to find me anxiously pacing the streets.

5PM – Someone on the Facebook group says they’d spotted Ziggy and the black cat awhile earlier, “having an altercation” but then they’d ran off in opposite directions.

Ziggy is a street fighter now!?

The Worst Evening Of Our Lives – That may sound overly dramatic but dudes… we were stricken. Between shifts of village patrol, we sat side by side on the couch in silence, trying to decide how worried to be.

On one hand, it had only been a few hours and my cat-owning friends reassured me that cats pull this shit all the time and then waltz back in. On the other hand, Ziggy had never been outside our yard before, so how the heck would she know how to get home!? It was hard not to imagine a tabby pancake in the middle of the highway.

It is ridiculous how deeply, deeply attached you become to a creature that is for the most part completely indifferent to your undying affection. 78% of our daily conversations revolve around her exploits. The house seemed cavernous without her stripey bod sashaying in and out of the room, or scratching her claws on the bottom step like she knows she’s not meant to, or making a deposit to the litter tray juuuust as we sit down to enjoy a cup of tea.

“I don’t know what I’ll do without that jerk,” Gareth finally says, “She’s my wee pal.”

He is so sad and sincere. I just want to vom from the guilt, since she’d nicked off on my watch.

“What did we ever talk about before her?”

“I can’t remember.”

“I guess we’ll have to get divorced if she doesn’t come home.”

We laugh halfheartedly.

It rains all night. Neither of us really sleep. I get up every hour or so to see if she’s outside, or to shuffle up and down our street.

(I should mention at this point that I’d injured my lower back a few weeks earlier, with any walks over ten minutes sent excruciating pain radiating across my lower back and down my legs. Your timing sucks, cat! 😉 )

Friday 5AM – G has to leave for work. I begin yet another shuffling lap of village, calling her name as I shake a little bag of dry food, and noticing the inner conflict between missing moggie angst versus feeling like a twit for making such a racket. I mean, people will be trying to sleep.

I see two tabbies that are not Ziggy, plus the black cat from the altercation. All are wearing smug I ain’t seen nufink faces.

6AM – My back is cooked. I take a nap on the couch.

7.30AM – Wake up and submit cat to every Lost Pets forum in the land. After advice from dear friends who’ve previously had AWOL moggies as well as the reading Cats Protection What to do if your cat goes missing list, decide it is time to make some flyers.

7.35 AM – Scour the Google for a Lost Cat Microsoft Word template.

7.36 AM – Download template.

7.37 AM – Move template to Trash due to its use of SHITTY WORD ART. One has standards.

7.38 AM – Start making own flyer.

Missing cat flyer
Get that Call To Action right up there.

8.15 AM – Text Gareth and ask him to please sneakily print as many copies as possible.

8.35 AM – Gareth confirms he has managed to print 20 copies but says, don’t we have a printer at home?

8.40 AM – Dig out old printer that we had shoved into a corner a year ago after it stopped working for no good reason. Commence Operation Fix That Printer.





10.00 AM – Painkillers have kicked in. Commence slow hobble around the streets avec flyers.

11.30 AM – Return home from spamming the immediate neighbourhood.

11.55 AM – Phone call from a kind gentleman who lives down the street.

He got my flyer!

He’s found Ziggy in his garage!

12:00 PM – Toddle down the street. Kind Gent opens his garage door. A pair of eyes peer out from the darkness. It is the Striped One!


12:10 PM – After much coaxing out with Dreamies, then a dozen thank yous of wild gratitude to the Kind Gent, I carry the mewling Ziggy back down the street.

12:25 PM – Having scoffed down a tin of Gourmet Gold, Ziggy leaves a fragrant present in her tray, lolls casually on the living room floor, then dozes off like nothing bloody happened.

Gareth: Expecting The Worst Since 1973
Gareth: Expecting The Worst Since 1973

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for February 2023.

28 thoughts on “20 hours of a lost cat

  1. Oh, Ziggy. Oh, cats. They are sometimes the actual Worst. :/

    In his younger days, my late Elderly Man went missing for five days. 🙁 We lived in a countryside as well, so all sorts of possible fates. And then he just strolled in for breakfast without so much of an apology.

  2. Ziggy is a light weight in the ‘scaring your personnel out of their minds’ category 😉

    Our previous beloved one used to fall out of windows (2 and 3 stories high) and then be gone for 24 hours or more. Many flyers were printed, many hands wrung and many tears shed. One time we ran 3K (no car, in our panic forgot we did have bikes) with a cat in our arms, in the middle of the night, to the nearest vet because he had launched himself again from 3 stories high and fallen flat on his face.

    I cooked him porridge for two weeks because he couldn’t chew without pain. He developed a fancy for warm food so he then proceeded to receive warm meals on a semi regular basis.

    Another time he’d hurt his bum (again, 3 stories) and we had to chase him with painkilling ointment for a couple of weeks. Our dear vet explained, after another mid-night adventure, that most cats learn but some continue to fly…*

    Idiot bastards, the whole lot of them!

    * And no, we tried everything to block open windows and only open those he couldn’t possibly fall through but yet, he did.

    1. “in our panic forgot we did have bikes” – I shouldn’t laugh but I did, I can soooo understand how that would happen! Bloody cats!

  3. My Annabelle is an indoor cat as well and we live on a major highway. She has got out a couple times with me chasing and jumping on her.

    One time I was sitting on my side porch and she came walking up it to the door!!! I was such a douche I didn’t even know she was out there, and probably a good hour!!!

    Even with four humans and two dogs in the house, she is definitely the queen.

    Glad you found her. It is heartwrentching to wonder if you will ever see them again.

    Bad Ziggy…bad…you made your Mum and Dad very sad.

  4. oh Shauna, making me snort my tea over the keyboard again! My beloved cat left home for two weeks after I married the non-cat loving husband. I have been that person with the home made flyers for more than one cat. It works!

  5. Every six months or so I lose my cat – in the house.

    Even in our smallish place he always finds new places to hide.

    Unlike my previous cat, he will not come when called and hates treats and human food.

    Thanks God he abhors the outdoors or I would be in trouble.

  6. We had our cat disappear for almost 2 days earlier this year so even seeing the name of your post made my toes curl in discomfort on your behalf. (Our cat was found in a shed too but through word of mouth luckily). Cats are lovely. But every time ours does not come home when he should I get anxious and think he should be just an indoor cat. I love Gareth’s comment! And I was so happy to hear he was found.

  7. So glad Ziggy made it home. One of our cats disappeared for nearly a month, but made it back home starving. We think he accidently got caught in a neighbor’s garage when he left on an extended trip. I am also that person who came home one winter night to find a strange young cat curled up sleeping in my garage. Already having three of our own, my son made posters and hung them in the neighborhood to see if we could find the owner. Sure enough she belonged to a family who lived directly behind us. All’s well that ends well.

  8. My babies/masters (three!) are all indoors. There are lots of reasons but one of the biggest is that *I* know that I couldn’t handle the worry.

    I’m lucky that training and their personalities has made it pretty easy to keep them inside.

  9. I can totally identify with your sheer terror of perhaps having lost Ziggy forever. So so so glad you found the little minx. Our cat came to us four years ago and we were never sure how long she’d been on her own. We know she’s a fantastic hunter, she consistently leaves her dead prey for us to find at the bottom of the steps leading from the kitchen into the garage. As a one-time strictly outdoor cat we have not tried to keep her strictly indoors. So we’ve had a few incidents when she has returned home a little worse for the wear from an encounter with other animals who reside out here in the country. We’re pretty sure she’s used up a few of her nine lives along the way but always finds her way back to us. Ziggy may be one life down but you found him miraculously. I’d be tempted to stop the outside visits but as in our Neymar’s case, that might be impossible now that he’s had a taste of that big wonderful world outside his door.

  10. Oh, Ziggy.

    I have been there…several times. The worst was with Buddy who was gone for several days and then, finally, I go outside one day and here’s sitting there. He seemed happy to see me, very hungry and a bit sore. After eating he slept all day and all night and was as good as new. Several years later, once I’d married Tim and moved to a different place, he got hit by a car 🙁

    Now Tim builds amazing catios for our precious felines…

  11. I’m so glad Ziggy is home safe. I saw your posting on Facebook and was quite concerned. My old cat Officer Krupke once broke through a screen on the porch and was gone for several hours. Thankfully I was at work when this happened and my mom waited until he was back and I got home before telling me about it, so I didn’t have to spend any time worried out of my mind.

    BTW, this line is brilliant: “PRINT IS NOT DEAD AND NEITHER IS ZIGGY.”

  12. I am SO glad this story has a happy ending! Your Ziggy is the spitting image of my most favorite cat, Peggy Pearl, who died a few years ago. I miss her terribly, even though I have other cats, because she was perfect and I loved her so much. When I see your photos of Ziggy it makes me so happy.

  13. Good news! I heard that if you leave a pair of your shoes outside, the missing cat will be drawn back by the smell/pheromones. This is why cats love to stick their head in your shoes when you take them off. Who knew?!?

  14. Thank goodness you and G have Ziggy back! I knew the ending before I started reading, else I’d never have made it through!

  15. “She’s my wee pal.” Awwwwwww Dr. G!
    Yeah, those kitties do have (ultimately, aside from stressful situations like this) such a positive effect on our lives.

  16. Ah Shauna!
    I feel your pain! – and am so glad for the happy ending. High five to the kind gent and your analogue prowess. 🙂
    Your story took me back to my youth and our rescue cat – known as Sammy Davis (he only had one eye). One day after many years of calm domesticity, Sammy disappeared. Vanished. Without a trace. We searched high and searched low and, given that we lived on Summer St in Orange (the main highway through town before the recent bypass), gave him up as, to use your priceless phrase, a tabby pancake.
    Two years later – TWO YEARS! – he waltzed up the drive as if nothing had happened. The little shite. Turned out he had moved in with an old lady down the road who fed him fresh chicken daily. When the old lady died, he decided to come home. Bloody cats! But you’ve gotta love ’em. 🙂

    1. OMG Nic… TWO YEEEEARS! The little rotter. That is a brilliant story though… fresh chicken! Cats are so easily bought!

  17. The trauma!

    Yes pets have a great impact on our lives. Dunno what we would do without our wee Bella. Even though she uses our carpet as a scratch pad for her anus. We love her to bits.

  18. Yay for safe return of Ziggy and blessing unto Kind Gent. I trust you informed the wayward puss that henceforth there will be no unleashed afternoon forays into the garden.

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