April 13th – LOST
I am devastated. Last night around 8:30 my cat (Oscar) and I were sitting on the second floor balcony together. I went in for a few minutes to use the facilities and when I came out he was gone. The balcony has a high rail and in the two years we’ve lived here he has never jumped onto or over it. I have been up all night wandering the complex (Crescent Arbors) calling his name, but no luck.He is a big cat (18lbs.) so I doubt an owl got him. If any of you see him, please call me. He’s very friendly. Thank you!
April 16th – Still Looking
You have all been very kind and supportive, so I thought I’d just let you know that as of 8:30 am Monday there is no sign of my kitty Oscar. I know you all know what it’s like to lose a creature you love. Oscar has been an extraordinary friend, there through some very difficult times. Oscar’s chip is updated, I’ve called my vet and local vets, and submitted a “lost pet” form to the Wake County Animal Shelter. I will go in later today I will keep walking around shaking his treat container and calling his name.Please continue to be on the lookout for him. I can be reached at: JenaBall@CritterKin.com.
April 17th – Found but NOT Rescued
I FOUND HIM! So glad he is alive, but he is in my apartment complex’s storm drain system. It is a whole series of interconnected tunnels with 250-lb. grates over the openings. The apartment management doesn’t want to have the grates removed, so there is really only one opening (very far from where I spotted him) where I can put a trap.
Oscar is clearly terrified, even of me. The grate where I saw him is about 20 feet from my apartment. I can see the opening. from my balcony. It’s SO frustrating to know he’s there but I am unable to reach him.
The fire department and animal control were out here yesterday. Fire department says it’s not allowed to remove the grates over the drains either
April 18th – Media Coverage
WRAL came out to interview me and the extraordinary people who have so kindly helped me with Oscar. Although he is not yet in my arms, we are much closer to actually getting him home thanks to Shelly Smith of Cary animal control, April Allen (rescuer extraordinaire) and her team, the city workers of Cary, the Cary fire department and police, and the kind residents of Crescent Arbors where I live. It really does take a town to rescue a cat ;-)You can hear Oscar’s story and meet these amazing folks at 12:25 today on WRAL. Thank you to Amanda Lamb of WRAL for taking an interest in my sweet orange kitty. To be continued…
April 19th – The Plan
The quest to find my beloved Oscar continued today. He jumped from my second story balcony last Friday and has spent the past five days in the storm drains at my apartment complex. The storm drains are a complex, connected set of tunnels that run beneath the property. Except for an occasional sighting, it has been impossible to locate him so we could pull him out. Oscar is clearly terrified, disoriented, and unwilling to come out of hiding. Things are complicated by the fact that the drains are covered by 250-lb grates that require the help of the city’s public works folks to move them. Whenever they get close and start lifting the grate, he runs. Traps have also failed because we didn’t understand the drainage system well enough to know where to place them.Thank to Christa Reich, (the exceptionally resourceful woman who works on the maintenance team at my apartment complex) that may have changed today. She and I came up with a plan that just might work:
Step 1 was to map the drainage system. We needed to know how all the tunnels are connected and where Oscar might be hiding. Christa and I believe we finally have a good understanding of the part of the system where Oscar has been hiding.
Step 2 will be to take the grates off of each drain, check to see that Oscar is not in the tunnel that connects it to the next drain, then position someone over the grate to keep him from running back.
Step 3 will be to drive him towards the dead end we found in the system. It is basically a large cement hole with a grate over it that has only one way in and one way out. We suspect he has been spending his time there.
So….we will be carrying out this plan tomorrow morning at 9:00 am with the help of animal control and Cary’s public works people. If you have the time and wouldn’t mind being one of the 10 people stationed at the drains, please call or text me at (919) 454-9917. Please do NOT come if you have not checked with me as I don’t want to disturb the other tenants in the complex. You will need sturdy shoes, a flashlight, and patience.
If you cannot come, please send good thoughts. I can’t tell you how much your support and kind words have meant to me over the past five days. Truly…
P.S. Many of you have sent me private messages offering to help. I don’t have time to go through all of them tonight, so please forgive me for not responding directly. I will need you to text or call (919) 454-9917 to let me know you are coming. THANK YOU!
April 20th – Rescued
What saga! This morning at 9:00 am Shelly Smith from animal control, Paul Jones and Javon Dance from Public Works, April Allen (rescuer extraordinaire) Kerri and her son Austin, and a host of student volunteers brought by Ashley Van Wormer spent the whole morning locating and flushing Oscar out of hiding.
When I say flushing I mean literally flushing. Once we finally located him (a feat in and of itself that would not have been possible without the radical skills of Christa Reich), we had to resort to running water through the tunnels to get him to move into an open drain. Remember that each drain is covered by a 250-lb grate, which meant Paul and Javon had to repeatedly lift and replace them each time Oscar moved. They did this with endless patience and professionalism, for which I am immensely grateful.The first attempt failed because Oscar slipped past the trap and into another tunnel. After a lot of non-repeatable words we regrouped and came up with another plan. We blocked all openings with traps, blankets, and carriers, and positioned volunteers with brooms beside the drains so he couldn’t slip by again. We also tried sending two different Jack Russell terriers down the tunnel to chase him out, but they flat out refused to go when he hissed at them. I don’t blame them!
Finally, we ran a hose down the drain Oscar was in and turned the water on. This time he ran right into the trap and Shelly was able to grab him by the scruff of his neck and put him in a carrier! Relief doesn’t begin to express what I was feeling at that moment. I just stood there with tears running down my face.
To say this was a team effort is an understatement. Many neighbors in the apartment complex (Carol, Kristin, Ann Marie, Betsy, Carolyn, Debbie, Linda, Susan, Josh, Kristina and Michael to name a few) stopped by to check on me, give me food, pass out posters, and ask if they could help. April, Shelly and Christa were my physical rocks. You know you have encountered special people when they will dig up drainage ditches, bait traps with nasty smelling fish, and don’t mind if you text them at 3:00 am to help release a feral cat. To each and every one of you I send my heartfelt thanks. There’s no way I can ever repay you, but I CAN and WILL sing your praises and support you any way I can.Last but not least I have to thank the hundreds people who shared not only Oscar’s story but their own experiences and knowledge as well. They were unfailingly positive and supportive (sending prayers, good thoughts, and kind words) in the face of all that was happening. Thanks to you I was reminded I am not alone and love trumps everything.
As a children’s book author I write stories about how animals can open our hearts and bring people together. I think my next book may have to be about how an orange-striped cat whose journey into an underground maze brought thousands of people together. Thank you all again!
Copyright 2017 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.