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PermalinkSubmitted: 10:11 pm on Oct-06-2018By: anniesmarket.co.uk
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Our Mikey has gone missing. By now he's been away for 4 weeks, which is an awfully long time for an 11.5 year old
house cat that has never been away from home.

He's been an indoor cat all of his life. The most "outside" he's ever had has been a walled in 1st floor balcony.
That's part of why I was so happy when 6 months ago we finally moved into a little house with a well fenced garden.
By nature Mikey has never been a climbing cat, so we saw possibilities for this little slab of green to be cat-proofed
and added to Mikey's new territory. We secured the bottom of the fence with fence wire all around the garden. Mikey never
went higher than a surface he could jump onto, so him climbing a 6ft straight up fence just wasn't going to happen. With
the fence wire in place, the garden seemed like a safe and secure outside space for Mikey to be in.

Despite being an indoor cat, Mikey never stopped craving the outside. In the flat where he spent most of his life, he
loved being on the balcony. sitting on the wall, sniffing in the wind and a bit of digging in the pot with my strawberry
plant. Our other cat, Garfield, also enjoyed the balcony but always seemed more content with the comforts inside the flat.
Sadly, Mikey's brother from another mother passed away of bowel cancer in November 2016. Both cats were only a 6 months
apart in age, so at the time Garfield was only 10 years old.

We did think about adopting another companion for Mikey, but given that he wasn't all that young anymore and Garfield was
the only other cat he'd ever known, we decided he was best off living out his years as an only cat. Mikey grieved for
Garfield too. We know it. For weeks he was walking around the flat calling out for him. Then he settled and being a cat,
seemed to quite enjoy being the centre of attention.

Between my partner and myself over the years, one of us has always worked from home. Beyond a timeframe of a few hours,
Mikey has never been alone. We made sure he had his comfortable spots to be in every single room but his favourite place
has always been any room where there was 1 of us available to cuddle up on. Unfortunately for Mikey, ever since we moved
into our South Shields flat, there was no balcony for him to go on anymore. He never very actively pursued trying to get
out, but I knew he missed sticking his nose into the wind.

When we moved into this house, Mikey discovered the joys of racing up and down stairs at 3 am and zooming from room to room.
He loved being able to sit at any window to look out and got comfortable here really quickly. There's a lot more green in
this neighbourhood so there's a lot more that moves, flies and fascinates, with an excellent view upstairs. I knew that the
garden was going to be the icing on Mikey's cake, so after we got the fence wire in place, I watched as he discovered the open
door in the kitchen and for the first time really went outside.

It was everything I hoped it would be for him. I could see the wonder on his little face when he stepped out into the garden
for the very first time. He looked at me a few times, his nose went up in the air and with the joy of a kitten he explored all
the bushes and plants along the path. Only along the path because the grass was an entirely different matter. He didn't know
and didn't care much for this type of "carpet". It took well over 2 weeks before he ventured onto it, despite having seen me
sit in my chair on the lawn many times, he'd just sit there and watch me from the path. Once he got more comfortable with the
grass, he singled out a single spot, market it, and then spent the rest of summer trying to bury it, every day. I literally
have a bald spot in the middle of the lawn. He loved that garden, and if I know anything then I know that Mikey has had the
summer of his life.

So did I. The garden became our outside and with the lovely weather we've had this summer, I've enjoyed many hours of watching
him be the domestic tiger of his own little urban jungle. He never once tried to get out of the garden. Sometimes he'd sit and
look through the fence wire for a bit. He discovered a d-o-g. He'd never seen one before and didn't quite know what it was but
it sure wasn't a cat and being a pup only half of Mikey's size, it didn't look impressive. From behind the fence, Mikey did his
best to look imposing and intimidating, determined to show the pup who's boss. Then my neighbours slightly more sizable canine
friend showed up and in a deep dog voice, let out 1 muffled woof. My normally sleek and short haired furboy turned into a big
haired bush with feet that ran as fast as they could carry him.

He hid under my chair, behind my legs. If ever he felt scared or threatened, Mikey always ran to one of us with absolute trust
that his humans would protect him. I'm very fond of the thought that he felt safe and secure with us. At the same time, in the
current situation, that thought has me scared for him. Mikey has never met an unfriendly human. To him, all humans are a source
of love, cuddles and cat treats. Hunger will make him seek out humans. If he meets a friendly one, I might not ever see my boy
back if they mistakenly think he's homeless and decide to keep him. If he meets and unfriendly one, I don't even want to get
into all the scenarios my brain could conjure up right now.

Four weeks ago I gave Mikey his evening meal at 8pm, as always. As usual he started "announcing" that it was almost food time
over half an hour in advance. It's not like he would be extremely hungry, as he always has 2 servings of dry food during the day
as well, but it was his habit of reminding us that he likes his meals on time. We had a take away that night. Burgers and fried
chicken, 2 of Mikey's favourite "snacks". He interrupted his dinner to sniff the bag of food but returned to eating his cat dinner.

I had the back door open for him so he could be in the garden when he wanted to be. After we had our food, I realised that Mikey
hadn't stopped by to get his share of my chicken. For a minute I thought he might just be full, but as that has never stopped him
before, it somehow didn't sit right with me.  I went looking for him. I called out to him, but the usual response was absent.
I looked for him in the garden and every room, I couldn't find him. I shook the box of treats that he finds too irresistible to stay
away from, and he didn't come running. Less than 45 minutes after I had last seen him, We found some of the fence wire bent upwards
and Mikey was gone.

We searched all over the neighbourhood. Something we have kept doing, in an ever growing area, for 4 weeks now. We've searched
everywhere, shaking his treats, calling his name, checking under cars and in bushes, day and night, only to start over and do
it again. We had his chip flagged as missing, Laminated posters are on lamp posts in every street across this entire part of town.
We've made 100's of flyers that we put through people's door and had his "mug shot" shared all over Facebook. We called every
shelter and rescue organisation in the area, contacted the local vets, even the cleansing department, repeatedly. We patrolled
the area relentlessly but all without result. No matter where we look, we can't find our Mikey.

I'm heart broken over it. I've been a mess for much of the last weeks. Due to my physical condition I spend a lot of time at home
alone and Mikey has been my constant companion for years, no matter what I was doing. He watched me do my chores like a true feline
overlord. He cuddled up to me on the sofa when I read a book or watch TV. He slept on the back cushion of the sofa behind me, his
paws stretched out over my shoulders on either side of my neck. He insisted on saying goodnight at night, even if that meant waking
me up first. After that, he cuddled up and went to sleep in my arm, every single night. Even here, at my desk, he'd often be right
next to me, sitting on the arm rest.

Suddenly all of that is gone and I don't know if I'll see him again. I still hope for his return, I still look for him every day.
I will keep looking for as long as it's reasonable to assume that he may still be alive, but the reality I have to face is that
after 4 weeks without a trace, it's unlikely that we'll ever have him back.

I've been living somewhere between hope and grief. There is something terribly hurtful in not knowing where he is or what happened
to him. I've cried so much that I feel like a 4 year old rather than a woman in my 40's. I try to console myself with the thought
that maybe he's found a spot on someone else's lap, but it brings me no comfort. I try not to think about everything else that could
have happened, but my mind has no mercy. I don't want to give up and I'm not ready to let go. I'm grieving his loss, but I can't put
it to rest.

I'm painfully aware of the possibility that we will never know what has happened to him. If he's found and with someone, it would
require them taking him to a vet and if he's as healthy as when he left here, that won't necessarily happen. If he has passed, we
might never know because UK councils don't seem to have a system in place to inform owners of lost pets of pets that have been found
deceased. I know that our local council cleansing department does check for microchip details, but doesn't contact owners. If you
have a missing pet, you have to keep calling them repeatedly. I understand it, but it makes it no less awkward, hurtful or unpleasant.
I get that they can't call pet owners all day, but it would be so easy to create and have a public record of microchip numbers for
deceased pets found. A search tool that allows to check a (not necessarily publicly visible) database would do it. As we are not the
only pet owners calling in to try and find our pet, it could take quite the volume out of an incoming call load. It could also bring
closure to many pet owners whom often keep looking for their beloved pets for months, even years.

Recently I've become acutely aware of the amount of long term missing pet posts I see. I know that behind every one of those posts
is a person, a family, that's grieving a loss with an open end. We all have a story about the love for our pet, mine is merely one
of them. Mine is the story of Mikey, who might be just a cat to some, but means everything to me.

I have to presume Mikey to be alive and out there somewhere. If he is, then he's likely with someone, in their home, even sleeping
on their bed perhaps. They may have found him, care for him, feed him and keep him safe, all with good intent and kindness, but that
doesn't mean we miss him any less. He wasn't taken to a vet to have him checked for a microchip. He also hasn't been reported as
found with the RSPCA or anywhere else. If ever he will be taken to a vet, it's not even sure he will be checked for a chip then.

I believe that every cat and dog should have a microchip with up to date registration details, mandated by law if needed. I also
believe that that's not where it should end. Checking pets for microchips should be mandatory as well, not only when found deceased,
but also for living pets that are presented to a vet for the first time. Sadly, there will always be pets that disappear and never
return, but improving information and regulation could surely help to bring down the number of pet owners that end up looking out
a window only to wait for something that will never happen again.

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