Lost Cat? Read About Our Miracle Reunion

By Category: Cat-Human Bond, Lost
Reading Time: 13 minutes

I’m so excited. Our lost cat is home! He was gone for five years, and we missed him so much. We were worried, too, because he’s nearly completely blind. I’m going to turn my blog over to our human now so she can tell you about our miraculous, amazing reunion with Boccelli. She says she’s writing this to give others who have lost cats hope.

Speed Read

Our lost cat Boccelli in the woods at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Md.

Boccelli roaming the woods at the Shrine of St. Anthony.

It’s a chilly mid-May night, and I’m lost in memories of searching for my blind cat, Boccelli. I can still feel the cold forcing its way through my jacket as I wandered around cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac feeling under bushes and looking under cars.

Was he cold? Was he injured? Did someone take him in and plan to keep him? Would they get him declawed? With such poor vision, how would he find his way in completely unfamiliar territory?

As I drove and walked street after street, I tried to push the worries out of my mind and send him love and positive thoughts. I did this every night after all the people and dogs were inside and the neighborhoods were quiet. And every night, with dashed hopes, I went home without the cat I adored.  Just thinking about it still makes my heart ache.

Boccelli's Backstory

Boccelli in the Howard County Cat Club's no-kill shelter.

Boccelli claims a private perch in the Howard County Cat Club’s cagefree, no-kill shelter.

Boccelli’s a long, lean handsome guy in his formal black tux and always-spotless white shirt. I love him so much, my heart aches when I think about him.

He’s a loving, gentle soul — a true friend with a very strong wild streak. His favorite place is any place outside. If I’m with him, so much the better. 

Boccelli came into my life when two friends from another rescue heard about a blind cat at the Prince George’s County, Md. shelter. Someone found him in an industrial park parking lot and took him there. But at the time, that shelter was not safe for cats, and my friends worked very hard to get him out and bring him to my rescue. One of them suggested the name. I’m the one who spelled it wrong!

Boccelli and I loved each other from the moment we met. A few weeks after he arrived at our shelter, I brought him home because he had an ophthalmologist appointment the next day. He never left.

The ophthalmologist didn’t have good news. She said the globes in his eyes were very small, or he had no globes in his eyes at all. She wanted to remove his eyes, but I refused. He has some vision, and I didn’t want to deprive him of that.

When I did some research, I discovered that birth defect is caused by lawn chemicals. That’s just another reason to not use them!

The Miracle Reunion With Our Lost Cat

For three years, I actively looked for Boccelli. Then I stopped, not because I gave up, but because it no longer made sense. It seemed obvious that he was not going to just appear because I was looking for him and calling his name. So my search ended except for watching the Facebook lost and found pet and shelter pages.

Then the miracle began to unfold. A woman wrote to my rescue about a blind cat in need of help at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Md. When I asked her what the cat looked like and told her my blind cat was missing, she sent me a picture of… Boccelli! I didn’t believe my eyes.

To confirm this wasn’t just wishful thinking on my part, I posted the picture on our local lost and found pets page on Facebook. That little black spot on his nose was all the proof I needed, people said when they compared the picture to one I posted when he first disappeared.

So the search began again. We put flyers in the doors of houses in the surrounding subdivisions and posted them in nearby stores and restaurants. Every day, Team Boccelli walked the trails through the woods at the shrine hoping to spot the little guy. They never did.

One day, I took his favorite cat friend, Belle, to the shrine with me, thinking he might come to her scent. That didn’t work either. It had been almost a month, and we were getting discouraged. But Denise of Columbia’s Lost Animal Resource Group kept telling us we would find him. I clung to her words.

When we were beginning to wonder if we would ever see him, my friend, Suzanne decided to walk all the way to the end of the trail. She came to a fence and cows in a pasture.

Most cats love cows. Could Boccelli be with them?

The property belongs to the University of Maryland Agricultural Research Farm, and Denise wrote to them as soon as Suzanne told us about the cows. The director wrote back within minutes. Boccelli, now Spooky, was living in their barn! He’d been there for about four years. 

Boccelli And I Meet Again

The next day, Suzanne and I went to the farm to pick up my lost cat. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I knew he’d remember me because cats never, ever forget. But would he be happy to see me? Would he be glad we were there to take him home?

Boccelli had his own room in the barn for food and a bed. When we got there, he was closed into his room. I lay on the floor and reached out to him. He rubbed against my head — one of his favorite things to do — for what seemed like forever. I wished that moment would never end. But finally, I put him and his bed in a carrier. A few minutes later, we were on our way home. 

Is This Any Way To Find A Lost Cat?

Boccelli got out when I was coming in from taking out the trash at 3 AM. He came from around a corner and flew out the door and down the steps from our third-floor condo towards the woods. That was the last time I saw him.

At first, I thought he was going for a quick jog around the neighborhood and would be right back. An hour later, I was wandering through the woods calling his name.

The next day I put fliers on the mailboxes in all of our hallways and posted him on our neighborhood listserv. No one had seen him. But one person was kind enough to tell me if I kept my cats in, I wouldn’t have this problem. For a while, I suspected she had him.

As the days passed without Boccelli, I began putting fliers on the mailbox kiosks on all the streets in the townhouse community behind our neighborhood. Although it took a few days, I also put fliers on every streetlight and stop sign pole on the street behind ours. Then I moved on to a nearby shopping center that includes an assisted living facility, senior center and gym.

I got many calls, but just two were actually helpful. One was from a woman who’d seen him sitting on the sidewalk in front of her house, so I put food on her front steps for several days. All the neighborhood cats were there waiting for me like clockwork. But there was never any sign of Boccelli.

The other call came from a man who thought he saw Boccelli walking through his yard. I put a trap in his carport and hid it during the day but opened it late at night. I’ll never forget how it felt to drive down that long, dark street to set the trap and go back a few hours later to close and hide it. The first night, I caught a white cat with orange patches, who, five years later, is still not speaking to me. The next three nights, I was greeted by very angry raccoons, who finally spread the word among their friends to stay away from that tuna, no matter how good it smelled. The trap was in the carport for two weeks, and I never saw another animal after the third raccoon.

Oh, and then there was the woman who saw Boccelli walking across her front deck. She must have seen a cat who looks like him. 

Trails Of Tuna In The Woods

About a week after Bocelli disappeared, I asked a tracker to come with her dog. I wish I’d contacted her sooner. I’d wasted precious time.

Lynne and Mabel came three times. Every time, Mabel picked up his scent from Fall River Row, the street where I put out food, along a path through several acres of woods to a townhouse community on the other side of woods and a stream from our condo.

Lynne thought he was wandering up and down the path because he was afraid to cross the stream. That seemed like an easy problem to solve. I’d just sit on the grass with a bag of treats and wait for him to appear and leap into my arms. He didn’t.

Lynne also suggested creating scent trails of used litter or smelly food from Fall River Row to the steps that lead to our condo. Strolling along a path spreading the contents of a huge trash bag full of used cat litter ahead of me was beyond embarrassing, but I did it. Several times, I made trails of tuna from Fall River Row to home, a search tactic that was very popular with the neighborhood cats but not Boccelli. Oddly, my cats never went near the tuna. Maybe they knew it wasn’t for them.

Boccelli And I Move On

Finally, I gave up on the tuna trails and limited my search to refreshing my fliers and watching the shelter and lost and found pet pages on Facebook. I was tired and discouraged. I thought I’d never see my boy again. But all that changed when some kids who live several blocks away called to tell me Boccelli was sleeping in the sun in a field across a parking lot from their townhouse.

When I got there, of course, there was no cat to be found. But a neighbor told me he’d seen the cat several times. We put a trap in his yard, but the cat he’d been seeing for weeks disappeared.

Within days though, someone saw him sitting on a pile of building materials at an apartment construction site in the shopping center across the street. For months, I put food and treats at the construction site but never saw a cat. It seemed like Boccelli was always on the move, looking for home or a place he could call home. 

Map Dowsing, Pendulums And Pictures

One of my closest friends is an amazing animal communicator. She worked with me until she got so discouraged she just couldn’t do it anymore. She referred me to the famous communicator, Jeri Ryan, and there were others, too.

Jeri told me he was in a blue house with big windows next door to a gray house. A friend actually managed to find the addresses of blue houses next door to gray ones, and I spent an afternoon putting fliers in the mailboxes of all of them.

Another communicator told me he was in a community with a pickup truck in the parking lot, a patio with colorful furniture, a playground and a teenager with spiky hair. I found the truck, colorful patio furniture and playground. But there was no cat, and I didn’t see the kid with spiky hair.

Aside from my friend, Elaine DeCarlo, who does map dowsing, helped me the most. If you’re not familiar with it, map dowsing involves holding a straight edge on a map or dangling a pendulum over it until you pick up the energy of whatever you’re looking for. One of the places Elaine got Boccelli’s energy was Wyndham Circle, a condo community across a small field from a fire station. She also got him hanging out with a colony of trapped/neutered/returned black cats.

Meanwhile, Boccelli, who likes to communicate with my friend in images instead of words, was sending her pictures of himself in a neighborhood that looked exactly like Wyndham Circle. He even told her about black cat friends and firefighter who called him Little Buddy.

For months, I put his favorite deli chicken and treats on a curb on Wyndham Circle. The TNRed black cats and one handsome gray and white guy were always there waiting for me. But I saw Boccelli just once. He was off in the distance playing with another cat.

And for most of the time I was going there, he was already at the farm. I suspect someone from Wyndham Circle who didn’t like the cats dumped him there. 

At some point during my search, a friend told me how to use a pendulum to communicate with him. At first, it sounded so eerie I was afraid to try it. But after I worked up the courage, I “talked” to him at least once a day. 

A pendulum can give only yes or no answers. And my pendulum (Boccelli) didn’t always tell the truth.  But the one answer he gave me that was always honest was when I asked, “Will I ever see you again?” He always said “Yes!”

Home, Sweet Home?

Balcony cat enclosure

Our now cat-safe balcony.

Boccelli’s return home wasn’t as joyous as I expected it to be. The other cats were happy to see him. But except for Belle, they acted like he’d always been here. Belle was furious that he’d abandoned her and let him know in no uncertain terms. Every time she saw him, she growled nonstop until he retreated out of sight.

Meanwhile, Boccelli was confused. He spent most of the first two days he was here under a chair in my office trying to figure out why everything seemed familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. But it’s been a few weeks now, and he’s settled into a happy routine. Belle, too, seems happy to just be in the same room with him.

As for me, I’m a happy and grateful but nervous cat mom. I bought a radio frequency cat tracker. But I don’t think it would provide all the information I needed if he managed to go off on another adventure, so I bought a GPS tracker, too. And my handyman put chicken wire around the balcony, so I don’t have to worry that he’ll fall and wander off into the woods. He loves his balcony time, but I can tell he’s beginning to long for the freedom to roam. So soon, we’ll start going out with a harness and very long leash. I hope that will be enough for him. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to just open the door and let him go, no matter how many trackers I have, although I know that’s what he wants.

How To Find A Lost Cat

Thomasina and I usually write about cat behavior and don’t often tell personal stories. So this just wouldn’t be us if I didn’t include some suggestions for finding a lost cat. Many of these ideas came from Denise and Lynne. I found others on the Missing Pet Partnership (now Missing Animal Response Network) website. Here are 10 tips. You’ll find more in this video.

1. Start searching immediately. Don’t assume that your cat will just come home. Chances are, he won’t.

2. Look everywhere — under things, on things, above things. Check the trees! And ask your neighbors to check their garages and sheds. I know a cat who hid inside a neighbor’s house for days. Elaine DeCarlo told his family where he was.

3. Don’t yell his name. Instead, say it softly. After you say his name, stand still for a few minutes and give him a chance to appear. If you wander around saying his name, he might try to follow your voice and get even more confused.

4. Post fliers everywhere. Use large paper, if you have it, or brightly colored paper. Include a picture and use the largest font possible. Post the fliers at eye level on streetlamp poles and stop signs. Remember, most of the people who see them will be in their cars. Put them in sheet protectors or large freezer bags with the tops facing down to protect them from the rain. I managed to tape my fliers so they were sticking out, not wrapped around the poles. As you’re posting fliers, talk to people and put fliers in their hands.

5. The best time to search is at night when the neighborhood is quiet. Take a flashlight so you can see glowing eyes.

6. Create an array of scents to attract your cat. Hang unrinsed cat food or tuna cans from a tree and smear cat food or tuna on the trunk. Set a trap nearby, and make a trail of food from the tree to the trap. You can also hang strips of a cut-up T-shirt or towel that smell like you from the tree.

7. Make a chum trail by mixing a couple of cans of tuna with a gallon of water. Drizzle it from wherever you think the cat is to your door. I didn’t know about this when I was looking for my lost cat. If I had, other cats wouldn’t have eaten my trail from Fall River Row to home.

8. Use a pet detective or tracker. You want someone who will tell you where the dog is getting the cat’s scent but won’t alllow the dog to approach the cat.

9. File missing cat reports with your animal control agency. Also, email or take fliers to local rescues and vet clinics. Visit your local shelter every few days to see for yourself whether your cat is there.

10. Post on Nextdoor.com, the Facebook lost pet pages for your area and Craig’s List. Beware of Craig’s List though. Do not give anyone money until you have your cat.

But there’s one caveat to this. No matter how much you search, you probably won’t find a cat who doesn’t want to be found. Don’t give up though. Ever. Your cat is out there someplace. When he’s ready, you’ll find each other. 

Be Prepared

No matter how careful you are, there’s still a chance your cat could get out and get lost. If the worst happens, these steps will help you when you search.

 Microchip your cats, and keep the information on their chips updated.

 Comb some hair off each cat and store it in labeled, sealed sandwich bags. You’ll need it if you ask a tracker and dog to look for your cat.

♦ Have clear pictures with minimal backgrounds of each cat for fliers and posting online.

Your cats should wear collars with slide-on tags and no bells. The jangling bells and tags will annoy them.

♦ Invest in a radio frequency or GPS tracking system. The peace of mind will make it worth the money you spend. If I had had one, my lost cat would probably have been gone five days at the most, not five years. 

Love, Kindness, Miracles And Gratitude

Lost cat reunion

Boccelli on the arm of his favorite chair on the balcony.

As I’m typing, Boccelli is sitting underneath my feet. Every once in a while, he stands on his back feet and touches me gently with his front paws. Maybe that’s his way of reassuring me that the cat I brought home from the barn is really him, and he’s really here. I still don’t quite believe it. When I drive by the fire station, I still look for him.

I’ve always believed in cat miracles. But this miracle would not have been possible without the help and love of so many kind people. There were all the people who called when they saw my fliers; the people at the Maryland Research Farm who welcomed him to their barn when he desperately needed a place to go and the woman who wrote to me about the blind cat at the shrine and cared enough to send me a picture. And there’s Team Boccelli — Denise, Sue and Suzanne. Without you, Boccelli would not be home now. 

There are no words to tell you how grateful I am. You gave me a precious gift, and I will treasure every moment with him forever. Welcome home, Boccelli. I hope you’re as happy as I am that you’re here.


What do you think? Do you have a lost cat? Tell us your story in the comments below.



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