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Elsa's Story: Adventures in the Monsoon Drain
January 10, 2003 — missing 3 days.

Elsa (right) cuddling with Didi

Dear Pauline,

I'm writing to you to express our gratitude for finding our beloved cat back safely. Her name is Elsa and we had lost her 3 days ago. Somehow she managed to escape from our compound by climbing the fence. We found her last night hiding and crying inside the monsoon drain two blocks away from our house. The tips and techniques that I found in your web page are so helpful. And we're so thankful for that.

I'm a weekend carpenter (as a hobby) and currently building a bench for our backyard garden. As usual the place will be in a mess for quite some time until the project is done. The last project took me 3 years to complete which was the island table for the kitchen.

Our cats, Didi and Elsa, were occupying our backyard as their little heaven. Recently we fixed a 7 foot brick fencing as a security measure and also to keep our cats from roaming away from our compound.

Lesson # 1 — never leave your backyard in a mess, especially stacking wood or unfinished benches near the fence as it will give opportunity for the cat to climb out. (And yes, I should've listen to my wife and kept the unfinished bench away from the fence; she warned me that the cats just might climb and jump out.)

Elsa, in particular, is a very timid and dainty, unlike Didi who is a bit boisterous and friendlier around strangers. They're both female and spayed so I don't think she ran away for a 'little fun'. I suppose she was curious and wanted to see if there was anything interesting outside the compound.

When we learned that Elsa was gone, we looked for her immediately all around the neighbourhood but to no avail. We searched once in the morning and once in the evening. I put up a coloured poster with her picture on it and placed it at a shop nearby and distributed black and white flyers to each house in my neighbourhood. There were about 40 houses in our section.

I surfed the net and found out about your tips in finding missing cats. After reading them, I was convinced that she's not very far away from our home. I told my wife and maid not to give up searching for her.

My maid did her dutiful evening rounds around the neighbourhood on the third evening, and she gently calls out Elsa's name while searching and still there was no sign of the poor cat. My maid came home and shortly after that someone came over to our house and reported that he heard the sound of a cat crying which came from the drain in front of his house. I assume that she heard a familiar voice calling out her name and decided to respond to the calling, even though it was delayed response.

We rushed quickly to the place and spotted her sitting in the dark crying inside the monsoon drain. Luckily it's quite a big drain and had enough room for me to crawl in and rescued her. Hers was a loud cry in the beginning and as I started to go down in the drain it became softer and sounded like she was suffering from pain.

Lesson#2 — everyone is a stranger/threat to a scared cat.

She didn't come to me when I called her name, perhaps it's their defense instinct not to respond to a threat. She stayed put in one spot and was very weak and helpless. I think she was calling out for help since she couldn't find her way out from the covered hole. She might have traveled in the dark for miles going around in circle inside the drain that covers a few blocks of houses.

I slowly approached her and gave her a gentle stroke before I grabbed her body, and I guess it's the familiar smell and voice that calmed her down a little. Everyone was so relieved the moment I brought her up to the surface, to celebratory cheers that night.

Lesson #3 — As soon as the cat is rescued, check if she is hurt or wounded IMMEDIATELY and thoroughly before deciding that she is ok.

When we brought her home, I saw some pus on the right hind leg and didn't think that it would be something serious. But after 2 days, seeing that she wasn't as active as before, my wife checked the small wound and only to find out that there were 3 other holes around the area, and it was swollen, red and hard around it. It seems like she was bitten and was badly infected. We took her to the vet immediately and the doctor said that the wound was badly infected and she was also having fever. She was then sedated so that he could treat her without struggle. We also found another wound underneath her body. The doctor said we were very lucky, because if left untreated, she could die because of bacteria getting in her blood system. Poor Elsa. The doctor gave an antibiotic jab, some antibiotic tablets and cream for the wound. We really hope she will recover soon. We love her very much and it's disheartening seeing her suffering like that.

Once again, thanks for your tips and insights about missing cats especially their natural behavior in such situation. Otherwise we would've been searching without any clue and she might've ended up in a different condition.

Eaide, Siti, Ali, Bibik, Didi & Elsa

Thank you sooo much for sharing the story of your beautiful Elsa! Please let me know how she is and when the fever and infection clear up, OK?

You are so fortunate that: #1 you didn't give up; #2 Elsa called out; and #3 that your neighbor was aware that you were missing your cat. The fact that you put up the color poster AND distributed black and white flyers to each house was key to alerting neighbors — and of course Elsa was very brave to call out loud enough to be heard.

January 13, 2003

Elsa is getting better now. When she regained her consciousness after the treatment she couldn't walk and was lying down quietly. She didn't want to eat or drink until about 8 hours later. The next morning she was up and about and we could see that her wounds are drying up.

Didi is at ease now that Elsa is back. The day Elsa escaped, Didi was very unsettled and meowing very loudly, sounds like she was crying. Didi also kept sitting at one spot near the brick fence and kept looking up, where Elsa climbed and made her way out from our compound. We were very worried that Didi might do the same thing.

As you can see in the photo we sent, they both are very loving to each other, and we often see them grooming each other at the same time. We are relieved and very happy to see that she is recovering very quickly.

Thank you so much for sharing our story with the rest of the world. :)

Eaide and Siti

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