Hey everyone, I'm hoping some of you will be able to help me figure out what to do. My wonderful cat, Possum, has been missing for 23 days and I am an absolute emotional wreck. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are strange, and I'm wondering if any of you have had a similar situation. Here's what happened:
Possum is an indoor cat with tons of energy, so much so that he drives my elderly cat nuts trying to play. My (admittedly stupid) solution was to allow him outside for an hour or so each evening. He would constantly cry to go out, but he would stay very nearby and would always come when I called him. I regret letting him out more than I can put in words, but I had a false sense of security for several reasons; Possum is a 20 lb cat, in his prime and extremely athletic, we live in a suburban neighborhood, and plenty of our neighbors let their cats out without consequence. On the night of August 6th, Possum went out to play. He came home an hour later. In the early hours of August 7th (around 4am) my dog had to go outside. Upon opening the door to let him back in, Possum snuck past me, back outside. I will forever regret not going after him. I figured he'd come back in a bit as usual. I didn't go back to bed though, because I didn't want to miss him if he came to the door. I opened the window and sat by it (to keep an ear out for meows) while watching TV with the volume really low. I called for him a bunch of times but he didn't return, which was unusual. The next day I began searching. I searched day and night (I'm a nanny and so I brought the little girl back to my house and we looked together, then at night my friends and I took my dog and scoured the woods and nearby neighborhoods). I called every vet and shelter, I handed out fliers, put up posters, etc. Then, one week later, I discovered tufts of Possum's fur at the edge of our neighbor's woods, less than 500 feet from my house. After a total emotional breakdown (my neighbors think I'm nuts by now) I began collecting the fur so that I would have something to bury. But then I noticed that there was ONLY fur--absolutely no sign of blood, or anything else. I scoured that thin stretch of woods and found a couple little tufts a short distance away, but that was it. I would describe the amount of fur I found as a good handful, and I'm pretty sure it came from his back end because there was one tuft from his tail and the rest seemed to be from his "pants", the extra fluff on his back legs. I researched and researched. I know sometimes when coyotes attack, fur is all that is ever found. I know that sometimes coyotes hunt in suburban neighborhoods. But here is why I believe Possum's situation is a little more complicated: first of all, that stretch of woods is so thin that I can see the highway through the trees. The highway is fenced off with chain link but is quite loud, making this thin stretch of trees an odd area for wildlife to hunt in. No coyotes have ever been heard or seen in our neighborhood, whereas at my old house we heard them all the time--when they're hunting they make it known. Several people suggested the possibility of a fisher cat, but everything I've read suggests that fisher cats are aggressive, messy killers and the evidence they leave behind would leave no question as to what happened. Shortly after finding the fur I received a phone call from a woman one neighborhood away (easily accessible through the woods across the street from my house) who said that she was calling because she saw the fliers and poster and had seen Possum crossing her yard a couple days earlier. She said she had never seen him before and had never seen him since. I continued to search for him around that area, just in case. Then I got a call several days ago from a family in a neighborhood 1 mile away that saw my ad on Craigslist and believe that the cat that recently began visiting their yard on a daily basis might be Possum. According to the two children, the cat is even missing some fur on its back end. I have begun to search this neighborhood in the morning, evening and the middle of the night but so far nothing. The family said they will call the next time they see him.
My question for all of you is this: is it possible that Possum is still alive, but ran for his life when whatever pulled out his fur attacked him? I have read that traumatic events can 'displace' cats, causing them to flee the area where they experienced the trauma and search for new territory. The neighborhood where the family claims to have seen him does have quite a few roaming cats, I suspect there is a lot of food to go around because they all look fat and happy. If Possum had come across this neighborhood it makes sense that he might stay. Have any of you ever found your cat's fur, but still had a happy outcome? I love Possum so very much and have never felt such a tremendous amount of guilt and regret before. I refuse to give up on him if there is even a glimmer of hope, but I am worried that I am in denial and holding onto false hope. The thing I just can't explain is why, when I was sitting in front of an open window, did I not hear a single thing that morning he disappeared? It had to happen then, otherwise he would have come home for breakfast. The open window was facing the area where I found the fur. Both my dog and my parents' dog were in the room with me and they didn't hear anything either. Usually they are both extremely sensitive to nearby animals--they go crazy when they smell/hear a deer before they can even see it. My mother did see a small red fox in the woods behind our house last summer, but would a fox really want to deal with a strong, sharp-clawed 20 pound cat when there are tons of mice and birds around? Maybe Possum unwittingly wandered too close to this fox's den and the fox tussled with him to scare him off? I don't know.
Whew, this is a long post, so sorry! I could just really use some advice or thoughts from people who have been in similar situations, or at least from people who understand what I am going through. All my research about grisly attacks on kitties has really done a job on me. Like I said, I'm not naive and I do understand that finding your missing cat's fur is a majorly bad sign. But, like you all know, pets are family members and to give up hope is to fail them--something they would never do to us.
Thanks to every last one of you that actually reads this incredibly long-winded post. To those of you who are also missing cats I'm sending prayers, well-wishes and absolute understanding your way. Thanks again.
(And for the heck of it, here are four pictures of Possum)