SUMMER’S WINTER ADVENTURE
The Condominium where I live is a ‘no pet’ community however a service or support animal may be approved as an exception. By requesting an approval, the resident agrees to abide by a few rules, for the sake of the other residents’ enjoyment of the community. One rule is that no service or support animal may be allowed to roam the common area outside of the resident’s unit, without a leash or some reasonable restraint. Since most cats are not as amenable to restraint as other domesticated animals, usually a cat must be kept indoors.
As a ‘director’ on my block, I am responsible for enforcing all condominium rules and regulations. Therefore, I received a concerned phone call during the week before Christmas and Chanukah, from a resident reporting that a cat ran into their unit when they opened their door to come home late at night. The cat ran all the way through the house, and then right out again, however this was a frightening experience for the residents.
This cat decided to continue to hang out on our block, unrestrained, and it had a tag hanging from the collar, so it was probably not a stray. Thinking someone nearby may have lost their cat, I tried to find out who the owner may be, and where the cat really belonged. I did not read the tag since I was reluctant to pick up a cat who I did not know (and who did not know me).
So, I spent a day on the phone, calling one or two directors on each of the other 14 blocks of our Condominium Association, to find out who may have lost their cat. I got a few leads referring me to people who were known to have cats. I visited the known cat-people, to ask if they lost a cat recently – but they had not. My neighbors all worked with me to figure out what to do about this cat. My main concern was not only that the cat was disregarding our rules, but she was too friendly. As soon as she saw people, she ran to them and rubbed herself against their legs. Since some of our residents have difficulty walking – even with canes and walkers – having a cat running between and in and out of their legs was a serious hazard.
I decided then, since this was a very friendly cat who allowed us to pet her, that I would try to lift the cat to read the tag hanging from her collar. She did not like being held, but I managed to get enough cooperation from her to read the tag. This purple-colored, heart-shaped tag had 3 lines engraved on it:
The 1st line read “SUMMER”, the 2nd line was a set of house and street numbers, and the 3rd line was a 7-digit phone number. So, this beloved lost kitty was named “SUMMER”. The house and street numbers did not clarify the city, and the phone number did not have the telephone area-code prefix. Our local telephone prefix gave us a voice-mail, where we left a message about the cat we thought belonged to the person with this phone number. (He did later return the calls, but said this was not his cat, and he did not live anywhere near the address we had.)
I went online to see if the house and street numbers might yield some location. YES! This was found in Parkland, Florida (although some maps said Pompano Beach, Florida) – but all maps showed the same location – 23 miles from my block in Delray Beach, Florida! One of the real estate websites said this house was “de-listed 2 months-ago” - Huh? It was last sold in 2013. But now I was not sure if the people who tagged Summer had in fact moved, or not. I looked up the phone prefixes for Broward County, and we tried them all. One of them gave me a fast-busy-signal, so I called the phone company and asked what that means – I was told it means there is a problem with that phone line – and I asked how I could report it to get it fixed, but was told only the owner of that phone number could report it. Duh, but I am unable to reach them…
Meanwhile, a woman came by walking a dog, and said she knew some people who might like to adopt this kitty, and asked if I had a photo of her. I never thought about taking a photo! I tried to capture some pictures that evening, although they did not come out too well, but I emailed the dog-walker the photos, in case she could find a foster home for the kitty. One friend did bring a carrier, put her in it, and took her home, but was not able to keep her. This friend’s cat was yowling at Summer, who was in the carrier – terrified – and growling. Since she was unable to keep her, she brought the cat back to my block which was a familiar area by now for Summer.
After this terrifying experience in the carrier, another friend brought a small carrier and was willing to take Summer home and said if the owner was not found, Summer could stay inside with her. Summer wanted nothing to do with this carrier, and I clipped a cable-leash to her collar to try to walk her to her new foster-home, but even coaxing her with a can of cat-food, moving it a few feet at a time in the direction we wanted her to go, this was clearly not going to work. Summer decided to forget about the food, and she ran and hid under a bush. But the cable was still attached to her collar! I could not leave her to maybe get entangled and hurt with this cable-leash, but to unhook it, I had to reach down under the bush and work the clip off the collar. This was very difficult both for me and for Summer – who was growling – but who did not pull away, so after several failed attempts – I managed to unhook the cable.
I was starting to think that even if we could find someone to adopt her, we might need a professional to catch her in an appropriate trap to transport her to a foster-home. I even called ‘Critter-Control’ who had captured and removed a large raccoon from our block a few months-ago. Critter-Control said they will not deal with any domesticated animals. I looked up all the rescue and ‘no-kill’ shelter places – but even if one of them had room to take in another cat – they would not come to get her. Mostly they just wanted people to call or come by to adopt the animals they already had.
All the neighbors – even the ones afraid of cats – were worried about Summer not having anything to eat. I whispered to them that a kind soul was surreptitiously feeding her in the night (which is also against our rules) – but asked them not to tell the ‘director’! [Oops, that would be me]
Knowing that property tax records are public, I tried to find out the owner’s name by looking up the address in Broward County. I could not believe that I kept getting ‘no record found’. Impossible! I tried Palm Beach County (where my block is), and Miami-Dade County (the next one down from Broward), but of course they had no record. So, I did not find a name – but since I had some photos – I typed up a letter, printed and enclosed a couple of photos (with one showing the purple-heart tag) and addressed the letter with no name to what I was thinking was maybe the address where Summer once lived. Since now it was the Christmas (& Chanukah) weekend, the letter did not go out until 12/27. After a couple of sleepless nights, I went back to the web-page for the Broward County Tax Assessor, and I just kept entering the address every way I could, until finally – using the street number as “72” (seventy-two) instead of “72nd” (seventy second) I found a record! Now I had a name!
I did find the name of the Daddy on Linkedin – and since I have an account there, I sent him an invitation to connect with me. In the invitation message, I mentioned the cat.
Once upon a time, we had phone books where looking up a name would yield a phone number. Now I had to pay ‘White Pages’ $9.95 for a month, to give me all possible internet database information on the names I had. The owners of this house each had about 10 possible email addresses. I wrote emails to all of them. All but 2 addresses came back as ‘undeliverable’. One was a different person, who was kind enough to reply to let me know I had the wrong person/email address, and the other went through to an email at Comcast.net. So, all I could do was hope for a response from Summer’s owners. As the days went by, we all were less hopeful that we would ever hear from them. We decided and all agreed that if we did not hear by the Tuesday after New Year’s, when the whole Winter Holiday was over, that one woman would buy a large carrier, and another woman would adopt the cat, and – since Summer seemed to trust me – I would put her in the carrier, and she would be carried to her new home.
(I will confess, although I did not tell anyone, I was so discouraged by Friday, 12/30/16, that I looked up the Broward County Obituaries for the past 6 months – in case the couple was in a fatal accident or something… This search, fortunately, was a dead-end.)
Saturday, 12/31/16, New Year’s Eve day, as we were preparing to light the last Chanukah candle, the phone rang, and the caller-id was Summer’s Person-Daddy! He had just received my letter – addressed to no name – and was so excited – he said he would be here in 15 minutes – and then asked if my address was in the letter, so he could just use his GPS to get here, and did I have her in my house. No, she was right here on the block, not in a house, and yes, everything was in the letter. He said to keep her there, and he would be right over! I quickly put his name in my guest-list so he could enter our security gate, and I ran outside to tell everyone. Several of our friends and neighbors were excitedly looking for his arrival. Fearing that all this noise might spook Summer, I sent them all out to the road, and brought some extra food to a bush around the corner, to try to keep her with me until he got here.
He came and took her to his van and into the carrier, and she fussed and scratched him a little since she does not like being held, but after she got in the carrier, and he was busy hugging all of us, she heard his voice, and calmed right down. He said she accidently got out through a hole in the fence, and his wife was out-of-town that week, and the last time he saw Summer was November 3rd. WOW. Everyone asks how Summer wound up 23 miles from home – but she is not telling.
The next day, January 01, 2017, her Daddy emailed me saying ‘Summer thanks you’, and again said how happy he is that we found her, and helped to get her home. He said she is learning to be an indoor kitty again, and he sent a photo of her sleeping on some soft and fluffy pillows in her home. Seeing her so peaceful, and safe like that, I was thinking that Summer had quite a Winter Adventure.