Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zhenya!


Zhenya, just a few minutes after we brought her back home.

We found her.

Yes, we’ve got Zhenya back, believe it or not -– 25 days after she first went missing. She escaped unnoticed at night on July 23 when the good folks who were watching her for us (while we were in Croatia) came home one night and she slipped out the door before they could turn on the light. Then someone in their apartment building stupidly let her outside. And then she disappeared.

She’s very thin, and tired, and has a few nicks and one big tick (since removed), but we just came back from the vet, and she’s been given a clean bill of health, and we couldn’t be more excited.

We’d been hanging up hundreds of posters in the Prague 6 neighborhood from whence she escaped on July 23. We’d also put hundreds of the posters directly into mailboxes in the neighborhood, since the rain had a nasty way of erasing the printing on the posters we hung. We’d also been calling the animal shelters, and had put notices on expats.cz and prague.tv.

We’d been getting a call a day or so from folks who’d thought they seen her, but none of the leads ever panned out.

Until August 16.

That’s when a nice couple who live in the same building from which Zhenya escaped -- on Radimova in Prague 6 -- came knocking at the door, saying they thought they’d seen Zhenya just a few minutes before a few blocks away, near another apartment building.

In fact, the guy’s wife was waiting back at the spot at that very moment.

An urgent search revealed no Zhenya, however.

We came back the next evening, and we spotted her –- or a cat that certainly looked a lot like her -- hiding in some thick bushes near the foundation of the same apartment building, near Anastazova.

Our hearts leapt.

But she wouldn’t come out easily.

We lost sight of her quite a few times, almost hopelessly so.

We put out food for her, called to her, rattled the food bin, shined a flashlight into the dark undergrowth and into basement windows, and crawled under brambles.

She wouldn’t show herself.

Another couple walked by. Hearing us calling for Zhenya, they said, “Oh, that’s not your cat. That’s Matisek. He lives around here.”

Daisy’s heart sank. I, thankfully, wasn’t around to hear that little anecdote.

We kept searching, until Daisy thought she heard Zhenya’s meow. I crawled through the bushes and saw her crouching on a small ledge in the darkness.

I crawled closer, expecting her to scamper away, but she sat up and kind of turned toward me, as if she knew her nightmare was over, and I grabbed her by the scruff and pulled her up and out.

I felt like crying. I couldn't believe I had her.


Zhenya, just a few minutes ago.

Just to make sure, we looked for the little black spot on her lip that we knew would mean it couldn’t be any other cat than Zhenya.

The black spot was right where we hoped it would be.

We’d found her.

I felt the adrenaline, or whatever it was, making my hands and feet tingle. I can’t remember when I’ve been so happy, or so relieved.

We'd offered a reward of 5,000 Czech crowns, or about $275, for information leading to Zhenya's return. We were happy to give the money to the couple who pointed us in the right direction. We wouldn't have found her without their help.

She's been meowing like crazy since she's been home, no doubt telling us stories of her incredible adventures over the past three weeks.

Thanks so much to everyone who told us stories or left messages on this blog, or on Facebook or Twitter or expats.cz, about their own happy-ending experiences with lost cats.

They really kept our spirits up, and our hopes alive.

6 comments:

  1. Oh Grant, I'm so glad! My mother in law, who lives around the corner from you on Ve Stresovickach, showed me your flyer but I didn't connect it with you until now. I had something similar happen to us a couple of years ago, but fortunately our cat returned the minute we pulled into our driveway and I started calling her...she'd just been hiding outside from my friend who'd been taking care of them...give Zhenya a big hug from a fellow cat lover :-)

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  2. Grant, Daisey and Emma,
    So happy to hear that your Zhenya is safely back home and happy. She undoubtedly had a grand adventure - hopefully not to be repeated.
    Sleep well.

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  3. Hey! I'm so happy you have her back!
    All the best to all of you.
    Hope Zhenya has learnt the lesson :)

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  4. Thanks, everyone! We really appreciate your good thoughts.

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  5. I have to admit I saw the poster near the Kajetanka bus stop on Patockova, as I work just up the hill near the student dorms. It was probably near the beginning of August. A few weeks later I'm pretty sure I've seen Zhenya visiting our neighbour's cat and her three tiny kittens on Na Petynce, I just saw an orange cat there one day and sadly didn't make the connection to the poster. Glad it worked out in the end.

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  6. Thanks, E. Based on where we found her, I'd be surprised if the cat you saw was Zhenya, but you never know how much territory she covered. We found her in the direction of Brevnov monastery, but I guess it depends where on Na Petynce you saw her. Anyway, as you say, it all worked out in the end. We are still so happy!

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