So­cial me­dia helps spare miss­ing cat a life or two

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Mitchell Byars

boul­der» Max the cat got home for Christ­mas.

In what his own­ers are call­ing a “mir­a­cle,” the 9year-old or­ange tabby was found safe af­ter be­ing lost out­side in Boul­der for al­most two months.

Kate Burke said that on Nov. 1, she and her hus­band moved from Du­rango to a house near the Green­briar Inn in north Boul­der, along with their cats, in­clud­ing Max. But just a day af­ter mov­ing in, Max man­aged to escape his new digs.

“It was our sec­ond morn­ing there, and I opened the door and he had snuck up be­hind me and scooted out,” Burke said. “We went look­ing for him and never found him. We were freaked out and didn’t know what to do.”

Burke searched for a few days to no avail, so she turned to the in­ter­net and found a site called Miss­ing Pet Part­ner­ship that had be­hav­ioral stud­ies and tips on how to lure miss­ing cats back.

“We all think we know what they’re go­ing to do, but we re­ally don’t,” Burke said.

So Burke left out every­thing from tuna to cat lit­ter to T-shirts with her scent on them in the hopes of get­ting Max to pop up. But aside from a neigh­bor think­ing she spot­ted Max, there was no sign of the lost tabby.

“For weeks, we got noth­ing,” Burke said. “It seemed fu­tile. I thought it was over.”

But then Burke shared her story on Nextdoor.com, a so­cial me­dia site where peo­ple can share posts that only their neigh­bors can see. Shortly af­ter post­ing on the site, peo­ple in the Lake of the Pines area, a few miles from Burke’s home, re­ported see­ing an or­ange tabby.

“It was not at all where I thought he would be,” Burke said.

Then one of the neigh­bors man­aged to snap a cell­phone photo of the cat, and Burke was con­vinced it was Max.

“I didn’t know what to do, be­cause it seemed like he was there, but I didn’t know how I was go­ing to catch him,” Burke said.

Burke drove to the area a cou­ple of times but couldn’t find him. She de­cided to take the day off work Dec. 21 and de­vote the day to search­ing for him. But as soon as she pulled up to the area, she was in for a sur­prise.

“I parked my car and he was just sit­ting out there right in the sun as if he was wait­ing for me,” Burke said. “It was ac­tu­ally my birthday, so it felt like kind of a mir­a­cle.”

Max was ema­ci­ated, hav­ing lost 50 per­cent of his body weight, but was other­wise un­in­jured de­spite spend­ing 50 days out­side. Dur­ing that time, Boul­der saw sev­eral cold spells, with tem­per­a­tures drop­ping as low as 10-below.

“He was able to live through that,” Burke said. “I don’t go in for a lot of mir­a­cles and stuff, but it kind of felt like a mir­a­cle. There’s no other word.”

Burke said she also was grate­ful for all of the help of the peo­ple on Nextdoor, not only for find­ing Max but for post­ing pos­i­tive com­ments as her search seemed hope­less.

“It was so mov­ing,” she said. “Dozens of peo­ple just sent me mes­sages of sup­port.”

Af­ter a few days at the vet­eri­nar­ian, Max was re­leased in time to spend Christ­mas at home. He is on a spe­cial diet for now, but other­wise he is en­joy­ing life.

“He’s clearly ex­tremely happy to be home,” Burke said. “He’s su­per clingy and just wants to sit in our laps. He used to be kind of an out­door tough guy, but now he just wants to hang out with us. And eat food. Those are his two con­cerns.”

Burke said Max’s ad­ven­ture should re­mind all cat own­ers to keep search­ing for their pets and to use so­cial me­dia to help bring them home.

“If I didn’t find those sites, I would have never done all this stuff or just given up a long time ago,” Burke said. “I just want to let peo­ple know not to give up. Cats are amaz­ing sur­vivors, and with peo­ple’s help, you can ac­tu­ally find them.

“It can hap­pen.”

Max the cat was found ema­ci­ated, hav­ing lost 50 per­cent of his body weight, but was other­wise un­in­jured de­spite spend­ing 50 days out­side. Courtesy Kate Burke

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