We were contacted over a week ago about a cat called Bowie that had gone missing, but he had been sighted in a specific area in Sittingbourne inside a school. The owners of Bowie had been knocking on doors in the area that the cat had been seen in to get an idea of where he has been hanging around and at what time. A few photos of sightings had been sent to the owners of Bowie and it really did look like a match.
So between ourselves and the owners we all tried to work out the best plan of action to contain this cat so we could check if the cat was chipped. We turned up the first day to mainly assess the situation on Friday the 10th of June.
We met up with one of our colleagues (Linda) to have a look around the area and speak to a few of the neighbours until the owners turned up (they drove from London every day to Sittingbourne to find their cat Bowie). We noticed a few people walking around so we asked them who it was sending the sightings of the cat photos to the owners but no one knew who it was. We knocked on a few doors at one side of the street and everyone had said they had seen the cat coming into the street in the morning and then again in the evening. The owners then turned up to help with the search and to shed some light on one of the photos that was sent to them to see which driveway the cat was sitting on most of the time. Eventually, there were a few neighbours out of their houses talking about the cat.
We even had a little visitor come over to say hello.
As everyone was talking about the cat, I spotted a white cat walking around the corner and gestured to everyone that the cat was there, the cat was obviously not expecting a lot of people hanging around, got spooked and ran off down the path and into a primary school. The school was completely locked up for the night and there was no way in to try and force the cat back towards us. So we all sat patiently waiting and calling armed with food to try and entice the cat back towards us. The cat looked very hungry indeed and eventually appeared and came back to where we were. Slowly but surely the cat came closer and closer to us as we grabbed some tuna and threw some closer to where he/she was, it was working really well and we managed to gain the cats trust to eat out of our fingers. Whilst the cat was eating I slowly put my arm through the bars of the metal fence, speaking softly to not scare the cat away and tried to get the cat, but as I did this a motorbike flew past and scared the cat further away again.
By now, the cat had a full stomach and really wasn’t interested in us or any more food and just sat there with a huge smile on his/her face.
We sat for a while, but we knew that there was no way that the cat would entertain us now, so we all decided to call it a night and head back home knowing that the cat was no longer hungry and with that little glimmer of hope for the owners.
We gave it another day before we returned, so on the 12th we came armed with some lovely smelling food and a cat trap.
We sat for around 4 to 5 hours, shouting, banging the tuna tin like we did before and waiting in silence, but there was no sign of the cat at all. The owners of Bowie also drove down again to help with the search. We initially thought that we had scared him/her away from the other night and decided to go home and try again another day. We left the food there as we knew the cat would be very hungry and lo and behold as we were nearly at our own doorstep we received a text message to say that he was there are 8:45pm, so now we knew that he was in that school ground and at that gate between the hours of 5-9pm. We worked out between us that if we gave it a couple of days from that point he/she will be really hungry and won’t care if the food is in a trap. It does sound very cruel and I can tell that your eyebrows will be lowering as you read this, however this cat has survived this long without the tins of tuna and with a full belly he/she will most certainly not go in a trap.
So after two more days and the neighbours in the street watching for him/her and sending photos of the cat to our colleague Linda, we were determined that on the 7th day and 3rd time lucky we would get him/her. Another one of our colleagues (Sally) came to help and brought another cat trap so we could place the traps in the places that he/she has been seen to sit around at. Unfortunately, the owners of Bowie couldn’t make it down that day, so we promised to keep them updated on the progress.
After around 3 hours, the cat made an appearance and all four of us held our breaths as he walked past the first trap and crossed the road towards the second trap.
We must have looked so funny all squatting behind a wall watching this cat go near the trap with anticipation. He went in the trap, but nothing happened, so as he left the trap we went over to check and found one of the bars wasn’t set right, Damn! We then loaded the tray with more food, fixed the bar and sat in our cars to listen out for the trap going off. After another half an hour we heard the trap close, we all raced over to see that he was indeed caught in the trap! We were all so happy it had finally worked.
Our victory was short lived when we then checked the cat for a chip and found that it was not Bowie at all. This cat was female and she was called Smudge, however her last known address was registered to an address in Rochester which is quite some distance to Sittingbourne. So our adventure didn’t stop there.
It was getting really late and we were all sore and tired from sitting around and squatting behind bushes and walls trying to get a glimpse of this cat. We rang the owners of Bowie and had to break the news to them that Bowie was indeed still missing and this cat was not him. We were so devastated for the family as they had spent so much time coming down from London to try and get their cat back home.
So now the next step was to trace the owner of this cat Smudge, who was clearly in the wrong area and had been hanging around for some time scavenging for food. We rang the phone number that was registered on the microchip database, however the man that answered explained that he had never owned a cat called Smudge and that we had the wrong phone number completely.
Smudge was then transported in the cat trap to Linda’s house for an overnight stay or until we could locate the rightful owner. Sally, Dee, Linda and I all sat around having a coffee and planned our next move. We all said our goodbyes and headed home however, Dee and I decided to go and knock on the registered address to see if there was any chance at that time of night we could get one lead, but when we got there all of the lights in the house were off so we decided to go back home and try again in the morning.
We started our search first thing in the morning writing down every vet from Gillingham, Rainham through to Rochester and Sittingbourne so we could call them one by one to see if the microchip number came up in their database as having seen the cat at least once. After exhausting google searches, facebook searches, addresses and phone number searches and calling every vet from in and around both areas I decided to go and try the address again.
A woman answered and explained that the owner I was looking for no longer lived there, but she said her neighbour may have an idea. So, off I went and knocked on another door and explained why I was there, she had no forwarding contact details for the owner either but explained that her neighbour across the way was still in touch with one of the owners. After explaining to another neighbour what was going on she rang one of the owners and handed me the phone, so I explained why I was trying to get in touch with her or her husband. Much to my dismay, she explained that she was no longer with her husband and that he owned Smudge and not her, she was right as the chip said Mr and not Mrs and she also had no contact details for her ex husband. I hung up the telephone and felt deflated until I was told that one of them knew where he was residing. So off we all went for a walk (all four of us) up to an address to find more answers. The lady at the address confirmed that it was her son we were looking for, finally I thought we were getting somewhere.
We were a little broken hearted as we found out that he did not want the cat and wanted to sign Smudge over to our care. So I sorted out a handover form, got a signature and left to go back home. Once back home we contacted Anim-Mates Rescue and explained the situation and they were more than happy to take on Smudge to make sure she gets the best home that she could ever ask for.
We are still puzzled as to how Smudge ended up in Sittingbourne as neither of the people that owned her lived there. Please keep your microchip details up to date, it really does make our job a lot easier. Normally we don’t write in great length about what we do to try and help these animals we come across, but we feel that this story may just reach that one person to get them to ring up their microchip company and update their details.
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone living near Westlands Primary School for the support they offered over the course of a week, to the lady walking her black dog with her son for offering moral support every day as she walked on by, to the owners of Bowie for their determination to get this cat safe, for Linda and Sally for keeping all our spirits up for those hours. Also to the neighbours where Smudge used to live a massive thank you for your help and support in placing the last puzzle pieces together. #teamwork
For those in the Sittingbourne area please also keep a look out for Bowie, his owners miss him terribly and we won’t give up until he is home safe and sound where he belongs.
[wpedon id=”387″ align=”center”]