A little calico cat came purring my way along an Alpine Meadows Road at the end of an interview on Monday afternoon.
I didnt think much of it, other than "thats a cute cat," and would have continued about my day without giving it a second thought but someone made me think twice.
The person I was with believed this was a missing cat. She called on the neighbours to no avail and with no collar to help us figure out where the cat belonged, she asked me to take her to WAG cats dont last long outside in Whistler, she told me.
A part of me felt like I was stealing the cat from its home. Am I doing the right thing? Am I causing undo worry for some family who has just let their cat out for a wander, or am I saving this cats life?
With several doubts, I put the cat in the back of my car and drove to WAG, the cat howling all the way.
WAG was closed when we got there and with 20 minutes to spare, and nowhere to go, I paced the walkway of WAG, trying not to think of all the writing waiting for me at the office.
And as I walked back and forth, trying to assure the little thing that she would be OK, I was drawn to the WAG notice board.
At least 10 pairs of eyes were staring back at me. There was Rocky and Lady and Brody and many more.
All cats, all lost, all with owners desperate to find them.
It gave me pause for thought.
"Boy or girl" they asked when I put the cat on the front desk at WAG.
I looked back blankly; I didnt even think to check and I dont really know how to either.
A few skillfully placed fingers later Im told shes a girl and shes young maybe about eight months old.
I filled out a report.
Every year on average 150 calls come into the Whistler animal shelter to report missing cats.
The familiar refrain from the owners is that the cat "never goes far" and thats why theyre allowed out. But in Whistler coyotes, cougars and raccoons are in your backyard and cats are easy prey.
Last month alone there were 36 recorded cases of missing cats at WAG, two more were hit by cars and the body parts of three others were discovered.
Only 12 cats of the 36 missing in July have been found to date. And the chances of the others coming back are getting slimmer by the day.
You can sense the frustration and despair at WAG where they believe there is no such thing as an "outdoor cat." Cats who are accustomed to roaming outside can adapt to life indoors with some patience and training.
And there they are safe from the dangers lurking outside.
Fifteen cats are at the shelter; most have come in as strays. The shelter wasnt designed to hold this many stray cats.
I called WAG on Wednesday, two days after I dropped off the cat, confident she had been reunited with her desperate family. She was still there and by all accounts she wasnt very happy. I was shocked.
Carol at WAG isnt so naïve. She tells me the story of Colonel Custard, another cat found at Brandywine weeks ago. He was neutered which is uncommon in a stray so Carol knows he came from a home. And like the cat I brought to WAG, the Colonel looked well cared for, looked like he came from a loving home. Weeks later, the Colonel is still at WAG, now waiting to be adopted.
The thought of the calico cat crying in a cage at WAG has me beside myself and Im starting to lose sleep. Did I do the right thing, I asked Carol again?
Im assured that I did. The cat is safe. It is alive.
"They just dont stand a chance outside," she said.
The cat who found me will be waiting for her owners to claim her by Friday. After that she will go up for adoption. I know youre out there. Please CALL WAG.
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