Missing cat

Blurry Cat

Something nice about living in a small town is that one person can make a difference. I like to put up flyers that say MISSING CAT over a blurry picture—just the outline of a cat running past a snowman or whatever. I like to get everyone out into the neighborhood, looking for cats. When someone calls the number on my MISSING CAT flyer, I don’t answer. I think about how many people have pets they love now because of me.

“Who was missing a cat, after all?” I say. But never into the phone—I only watch it ring.

I don’t have a cat, but if I did he would be safe at home. These people who keep losing their pets seem strange to me. I would like to see a study about people who lose their cats, put up flyers, and get them back. I would like to know how many of those people lose their cats again.

I bet that a person whose cat runs out the front door while he’s getting the mail is the kind of person who leaves the front door open. Maybe he is the kind of person who makes his cat want to run away, although some of that is probably genetics. But that’s what I try to think when I see someone else’s MISSING CAT flyer: this person and his cat have been through it all before, and soon they will be back on the sofa together. It makes things easier.

A lot of those people shouldn’t even have cats. The kind of person who loses his cat probably doesn’t feed it consistently, or why would it leave? Maybe he’s an excitable person, and when he sees something funny on television or his friends come over he claps his hands, and the cat gets upset. For the guy it’s just normal life, but for the cat it’s like living in a haunted house.

Maybe even though they would like to love each other, that guy and his cat are better off apart—him watching Big Bang Theory and clapping his hands, the cat eating bugs in the dugout at the baseball park. Probably that guy doesn’t even deserve a cat, and he was keeping it against its will. When that guy puts up MISSING CAT flyers, they’re more like wanted posters. You see them and know that someone got away.

But it’s impossible to tell that kind of MISSING CAT flyer from the other kind. It’s also hard to know how many missing cats get found. There should be a study on that, too. Otherwise, for all we know, the majority of missing cats never come home. They might not even be out there anywhere. Until they do that study, all the MISSING CAT flyers might as well say DEAD CAT.

You can’t tell if missing cats are a big problem, either, or if people just print up a lot of flyers. How many flyers does the average owner of a missing cat print? Maybe it’s like the internet, where you think stupid people are everywhere because the stupidest 1/10th of 1% comment on everything. Until we know how many flyers per missing cat and the average success rate per flyer, we can’t know whether we should be sad or not.

I don’t think they’re doing those studies, because I’ve printed up a lot of flyers and no scientists have called to talk to me. But maybe they have and I didn’t answer. Sometimes my phone rings and I think I should pick it up, in case it’s a scientist calling to tell me that most missing cats come home okay, but it’s not worth the risk. Probably, it’s just a person who found a cat they want to give me.

I suppose that if I wanted a cat, I could print up some MISSING CAT flyers and start answering my phone. But then what if my cat went missing for real? People would see my flyers again, and they would assume I was a bad cat owner. They probably think that now, if they recognize the number, but they’re wrong. If I got a cat and it ran away, the people who think I’m a bad owner would be right.

Maybe if my cat ran away, the same guy who found it the first time would find it again, since cats probably run away to the same places. He would call again, and he would bring the cat over to my house again, and then that guy and I would know each other. He would think I was irresponsible, but still I would have to let him come over and look at me because I’d want my cat back. So it’s better not to have one. I like cats. I’m just not ready.

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