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2009-01-14 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Marci in her Eddie Bauer bed Marci in her Eddie Bauer bed "A Meow Mystery"

Can we conjure the spirit of Robert Stack for an unsolved meow mystery? Marci, a 14 ½ year old indoor cat missing from her Deer Park home since last January waltzed up her own driveway almost a year to the day she disappeared. Where was she for all of 2008? Marci's mum on her wanderings. She's taken a vow of silence, the feline mystique fashion of pleading the fifth.

Like far too many lost pets, Marci disappeared while her owners were away. Last year from Jan. 6 to 13 Donna and Keith (names changed to protect the innocent) left their Labrador Retriever and dozen cats in the care of Donna's brother when they went skiing in Canada. He had watched the pets plenty of times, but sometime during that week a year ago, Marci, then 13 ½, slipped out.

Marci was strictly an indoor cat, glued to her Eddie Bauer bed, though a few of her siblings venture out at times. It is unclear whether and when the brother pet sitter (name omitted to protect the guilty) realized she was gone. He didn't say a word until they returned. Crucial search time was wasted. Flyers, ads, email posts, combing the neighborhood and shelters- Donna and Keith began frantically looking for Marci. They told everyone in the area about their lost cat.

After about a month, they resigned themselves to the possibility that Marci had gone away to die. They even thought she may have perished within their large house. She might be in a closet o r crawl space and eventually Mother Nature's aroma would lead them to her. Nothing.

Donna was distraught. Marci, her oldest cat, had found them in an unusual way. In 1994 they heard brakes screech. Supposedly Marci, then a 6 week old kitten, was thrown from a car onto their lawn. A neighbor across the street said the car was a Chevy Nova. Oddly, same neighbor figures into the recent missing Marci melodrama.

Donna volunteers for Last Hope but back when baby Marci first "landed", her rescue efforts were minimal. The Nova driver didn't know her address. Since then Donna has helped many needy cats plus neighbors with ferals. Unfortunately when you do cat work, you need a shield or disguise to deflect the requests.

Lo & behold- "Happy New Year"- on Jan. 2, 2009 Donna saw a tortoiseshell cat that looked quite a bit like the late Marci strolling up to her front door. On closer inspection, same white whiskers on one side, black on other; slightly tipped ears, orange dabbed jaw and forehead, same momentarily friendly then crabby outbursts, it was Marci. Reincarnated? She had dirty ears and mats but was not terribly thin. Marci resumed residence in her Eddie Bauer bed upstairs without divulging where she'd been.

Next morning Donna whisked Marci to the vet. Her exam and blood work were OK for an elderly pampered cat on the lam for a year. The tortie had gone from 11 to 8 pounds, yet had no ear mites or fleas. She was somewhat anemic and her kidneys beginning to fail, neither condition unexpected for a cat close to 15. Obviously Marci was being fed. Perhaps part of the time, someone kind nearby kept her indoors. More important she was home now…tender loving care and good nutrition would forestall the inevitable. Every day, every moment back with her family would be a precious, unexpected gift.

Meanwhile at times the Nova-noticing neighbor feeds cats outdoors. She says she can't bring them in because her parents have an evil Chihuahua. She's talked Donna into taking "friendly" cats for Last Hope that turned out to be Cujo. Around September she told Donna she was feeding a stray calico cat. "Please come see her." She said the cat had white on her. Donna avoided looking this time. Last Hope had a cat waiting list of over 100. Besides Marci was a tortoiseshell, not a calico, and had no white.

When the weather got cold, the neighbor drove the cat around on warm up rides and left a litter box in her car at night. Think about that for a moment. It turns out the passenger cat was really the missing Marci but this only explains her whereabouts for the last 3 months. Where was she for the rest of the year?

I decided to play investigative reporter. The fugitive feline granted me an exclusive interview. I offered Marci treats. I pet her while she relaxed in her Eddie Bauer bed. All was going well, until I touched her chest and had the nerve to ask her where she had been for twelve months. Then the feisty grande dame bit me. I should have known that question was none of my beeswax. There's not a cat on earth that would ever tell.

For Adoption: There's another 14 year old cat, like Marci, waiting at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon hoping to get a second chance at a doting home. "Yum Yum" in C- 1, a sweet longhaired gray gal, belonged to a senior citizen who entered assisted living. "YumYum" wouldn't require much- just a warm lap or bed and someone who will return her love. In contrast, "Jack" a young Retriever mix in Cage 14 is about a year old. He has lots of energy and needs someone willing to teach him doggy manners. Male: 2 black Lab mix pups-Cage 3 & 20. Female: "Helga"-blue-eyed Swissie mix Cage 47; purebred red Chow Cage 32; "Deana"- tabby, declawed on all 4 feet. Upcoming Dates: * Almost Home Rescue Benefit- (among other wonderful things, this group provides community pet outreach and free spay/neuter in Wyandanch) Sun. Jan 25- from 4pm to 8 pm- Sunset Grill, 4068 Sunrise Hwy., Seaford- Live Band, Raffles, cover charge $10. Call 631-627-3665.

* Free Feral Cat TNR Workshop- Sat. Feb.7 from 9:30 am to 12:30- Babylon Town Hall Annex Phelps Lane N. Babylon. Contact TNRSeminar@aol.com or 516- 776-8998.

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