Social media helps spare missing cat a life or two
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