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NEW Princess Comes Home — After 123 Days!
March 31 - August 1, 2003 — missing 123 days.
After escaping from the garage, Annette doesn't see her Princess for over 100 days, until one evening Princess appears before her in the garage. . . so briefly, yet so clearly, Princess stood before her. . .it almost seemed like a vision. The more she thought about it, the more Annette began to think it was some sort of hallucination. But the next week, at the same time, Princess shows herself again and finally — after 123 days away — comes home.

Hi Pauline,

I just want to tell you an wonderfully odd story.

My gray and white cat Princess took off on March 31, 2003 and although I looked long and hard for her I never saw her. Last Friday night (July 25) after reading your web pages about lost cat behavior and some of the lost cat/found cat stories I headed to my garage to do some housecleaning. I was there only a short time when a cat appeared at the garage door. Although the light was on in the garage, the light's cast was only on the area where the cat was. As soon as I saw it, it saw me and darted. I thought I was going crazy...hallucinating...it was Princess...after all of these months....and from far inspection, no worse for the wear. I went out to look closer but she was gone...ran upstairs for a flashlight and proceeded to search the property...called to her...no response...no Princess.

I mentioned the happening to some family and friends...but the more and more I thought about it I thought I must have imagined the whole course of events....it couldn't be Princess after so long...it must have been another cat, even though I hadn't seen any other cat besides my other cat Bonnie in the area...

Then tonight at 11:30 pm, a week later at roughly the same time, as I was returning from a walk with my two dogs, Bichon's, I noticed a cat by the mailboxes. I grabbed the flashlight I had in my hands (used to assist in my picking up after my dogs) and shined the light onto the cat...it looked like Princess....called her name...and she responded with a loud meow....called again...she responded again....she moved and I continued to shine the light on her and looked at her markings...it was indeed Princess..no doubts. It was so amazing....kept shining the light on her but she was not interested in coming any closer. Well, after putting the dogs inside the house...and opening a can of tuna within 25 feet of her ..waving the open can in the air....she came to me. I began tossing tuna to her and finally got her to eat the tuna out of my hands. While she was eating an especially big chunk grabbed her and ran in the garage and thru the house with her until I could get behind a door...to secure her in a room.

I'll will be bringing her to the vet tomorrow to have her thoroughly checked out....her fur is a bit matted....previously she groomed herself until her fur was shiny. She knows she is home...she recognizes the smells of the room she is in.....she is sitting on the couch alternatively grooming her fur and resting with her head on her paws....she recognizes my voice and has come over to be petted by me and has responded with purring... although she is is not very friendly with her cat friend of 12 years, she is hissing at her, I think she is happy to be back....I know I am! I've called all of my friends and family in the last several hours to let them know she's back...

Thanks for listening and thanks for your informative web site...I thought I knew she was around my house but was starting to give up hope until I read your website.

Annette

Hi Annette,

What a wonderful story!! 123 days! Just amazing and no worse for wear. What a very strange twist, that you first spotted her in the garage after reading about lost pet behavior! WOW! Talk about not giving up hope and then there she was in front of you. . .sigh. . too amazing.

If you could fill in a few blank spots in the story for me it would help me learn: Princess was indoor only or outdoor-access? What were the circumstances of her being gone? Had she ever been missing before? Collar and tags? Spayed? What is her personality like? Is she more bonded to humans than cats? How does she behave around new people and new cats? Foot pads worn or normal? What methods had you tried to locate her? And the big question, what is your theory of how she has spent her time?

The fact that her fur is matted indicates she has not been spending the time as relaxed and leisurely as normal.. .so that sorta rules out another person taking her in (unless she was taken in, then escaped recently from the other place).

Let me know how the vet appt goes, if she lost weight etc.

So happy for you!
Pauline

Hi Pauline!

I'm still in shock from her return!

To answer your questions: Indoor Only or Outdoor Access? That depends. Recently, Outdoor Access, Most Recently Indoor only.

Here's how it plays out: For the past 6 years or so I periodically let her out. The first time she got out accidentally and stayed out for about 5 or 6 days. At that time, although I don't know for sure, I believed she was not lost, she just wasn't ready to come home and she was within 25 feet of my home. When we first moved there, I showed her the property so she wouldn't get lost as I did with the other two cats, separately. I lived on two acres of property and there was a small woods between my property and my next door neighbor. Each night I called for her and she never answered. The last day I was walking my dogs around the circumference of the property when I saw her in some shrubbery. After I put the dogs inside, I opened a can of tuna (tuna has always done the trick with Princess) and proceeded to sit and call for her from my porch. After a short time, she came up to me to get the tuna and just like this time I grabbed her and brought her in the house. After that event, she would periodically, (once a week in the summertime, far less during the other seasons) meow at the door. I would open it and let her out. After a short time she would return and let me know by meowing by the door again. I would call to her and tell her I would be right down to open the door. I would open the door and she would run inside.

Back in November I moved to this townhome development (about a 20 minute ride from my other home). At this townhome she was never allowed out. She did not seem interested in going out. Anytime the garage door opened, my other two cats would venture out onto the macadam but not Princess. The night she disappeared, March 31, 2003, I had opened the garage door and had gone inside to retrieve my dogs. I'm not quite sure what happened but all of a sudden the dogs started barking and began running up the street and the cats dispersed. [NOTE: It is interesting the things that animals are aware of that we may not be.] I called to the dogs and they returned to me so I could leash them and take them for a walk. The cats were lost to the night. I didn't realize that Princess was among the group until later (due to her previous disinterest). All three of my cats disappeared that night, Bonnie and Tommy returned the following morning but Princess did not.

No, Princess did not have any collar or tags on her. She is wearing a collar with tags and a bell now. She is spayed.

Princess is a very timid cat. She is afraid of her own shadow. When company comes over, she hides under a bed or runs downstairs to the basement. She gets along with my dogs...two Bichons...and my previous dogs..two labs....She usually doesn't answer to being called yet she knows her name.

Sometimes I wave my fingers in the air to indicate to her that I would scratch her head if it was closer. Usually she responds by moving closer to me. She likes to look out the window at the wild life. She had two cats as playmates for about 9 years, Jessie and Bonnie. Jessie, the male, took care of her but died unexpectedly of a lung aneurysm. She sometimes played with the other cat. About a year later, after Jessie died, I adopted a third cat, Tommy, a male, but he didn't seem to get along with either cat..he was more of a people lover.

She was more bonded to the elder cat, Jessie, but when he died she became close to me. I used to let her sleep with me until my allergies really started to bother me. Before she left in March, I had felt really close to her.

She is not friendly to cats or people usually. She runs and hides. She'll run and hide even when we are alone or when she thinks I am about to leave the house.

Foot pads are normal.

Upon closer inspection last night, she wasn't matted at all. Maybe 2 or 3 areas where the fur didn't lay right. By her neck some hair was cut very short....almost as if it had gotten caught on branches or brambleweed. When the vet weighed her this morning, she weighed in at 8.1 pounds...maybe a pound lighter than normal. The vet saw that she had a flea on her, but due to her normal size, he didn't think she was feeding on the wildlife..she would have been much thinner if she had been. The vet thought it likely that she was taken in by a family. But due to Princess' unfriendliness, I don't think that is very likely at all. Last night when I grabbed her, she not only scratched me but bit me on my thumb as well. I can't imagine her going along with anyone UNLESS of course if they had set a trap and had captured her.

Trying to locate her, I walked the neighborhood extensively, spoke to neighbors, put an ad in the local development paper. Unfortunately, the townhome community I live in does not let anyone advertise lost animals on poles or bulletin boards. The only advertisement method is the monthly pamphlet. The pamphlet comes out on the first of every month. Since she left on March 31, I missed advertising in it for the month of April. May and June they posted a description as well as a picture of Princess in the booklet. They had promised to advertise on a web site but it never got posted online. I followed up with them a few times about the online outlet but the webmaster was not available to update the page.

When walking my dogs, I would ask children, people alone or with dogs, if they had seen Princess. I gave them a description of her but no one had seen her. I thought that would be the case. I thought she would hide and come out when she was ready based on my previous experience with her.

The vet said she looked great for being out in the weather for four months. In fact, she really didn't look like she had been out. She had a flea on her. No ticks... My theory? I don't have one yet...I need a little more time to sort all of this out... it just doesn't make any sense..

Thanks for your interest! I'll forward a picture to you!

Annette

Thank you for answering my gobs of questions! I'm always full of questions :)

Boy she really does sound like a scaredy cat if she runs and hides even when you are alone with her! And not bonded too much to pets or humans. I would agree with you that it doesn't seem likely that she was with another family. Maybe a family was leaving food out for their pet that she ate out of? and somehow did this without being seen?

What a very cool story, Annette! I'm so glad she is now safe and sound. . .I look forward to seeing a pic of Princess so I can post her story!

Pauline

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