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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Community unites to find my cat


One fourth of my heart
Dashes out the door
Ripped from my chest
Leaving emptiness
Fears and guilt
Will I ever see my cat again?

Early morning on March 20th, I opened the front door, for just an
instant, to put something in the mailbox. I had no concern that
Bast would try to get outside. She had not done so since the
Summer when she spent a night outdoors during thunderstorms. But
try, she did. And succeeded as well. I never saw or heard her or
felt her brush against my legs. Of course, I wouldn't be able to
do any of that.

Hours later, when Bast did not show up for dinner, the alarm was
sounded. I realized what had happened and when. Joseph and my
father searched the neighborhood but could not find her. I
expected her to be waiting near the back door in the morning,
just like last time. She wasn't there.

The next day, Dad and Joseph continued looking for Bast. They
thought they saw her at a near-by house where a woman left out
food for stray cats. She wouldn't go to them and evaded capture.
That night, Joseph saw a small, dark shape behind the house. I
sat out there calling to her. I was encouraged by answering
meows. Joseph was excited because Nut was meowing at the door.
The Three Stooges couldn't have perform that act any better.

Our comedy routine was not in vain. I caught a cat... A big,
fluffy animal, not my petite, little Bast.

Facebook was alive with activity. At least ten friends share my
"lost cat" post. MM found a decent picture she had taken of Bast,
since we have so few photos of her. AK, who lives in Washington
State, cleaned up the picture so it would look good on a flyer.
MW left flyers in mailboxes all around my neighborhood and talked
to many people about my missing baby. JC, who grew up in Kent and
now also lives in Washington State, called in her Pet Finder
friends. It's amazing how people across the nation were joining
in to help with the search. Many had never even met Bast, yet I
could clearly see that they cared.

Every day my father went out looking for her. The Pet Finders
were out in full force. I learned things from their reports that
I didn't know about my own neighborhood. Still, there was no
sight of Bast. I began to lose hope. How long would people keep
looking for her? "As long as it takes," said my friends and Pet

Whenever the weather allowed, I sat out back calling for Bast. I
placed one of my pillow cases outside, hoping the smell would
lead her home. I truly believed she was still in the
neighborhood, perhaps locked in a garage some where. I was wrong.

On Wednesday, April 8th, nearly three weeks after Bast
disappeared, Joseph told me someone might have seen her and then
vanished out the door. I waited and waited. I posted on Facebook
and my friends waited with me. I didn't know where Joseph went,
or what was going on. The longer he was gone, the more hopeful I
became. Something had to be happening.

Joseph returned 45 minutes without Bast, but he did bring news.
Apparently, a man named Aaron was walking downtown between the
railroad tracks when he saw a small cat with a collar. He called
the number on the tag and reached my father. It was Bast!
Unfortunately, he couldn't keep hold of her, and she disappeared
under a concrete slab just as Dad and Joseph arrived. They could
see a deep den inside but couldn't get to her. The more they
tried, the deeper she went. There was no way to lift the large
slab. Joseph, Dad, Aaron and some college students all tried to
get to Bast. A police officer stopped by, but there was nothing
he could do. Night fell, and they decided to stop... But no one
was giving up.

We now had a location to focus on. My friends were once again
a-buzz on Facebook, sharing the information and offering prayers.
JC alerted the Pet Finders. MW spent two hours downtown talking
to people and leaving flyers at businesses. My Dad was there
every day with food. He noted that other people were leaving food
and that a cat was eating it. Bast would not come out.

I was biting my nails and pulling out my hair. We were so
close... and so far away. Aaron had noted some injuries on her
back. We suspected she was in a fight with another cat. How could
we get her to come out of hiding?

On Saturday, April 11th, the anniversary of the day I won custody
of Joseph, the call came in. Bast was found! A Pet Finder friend
of a friend of a friend of JC's was searching around the concrete
slab. When she sat down, a thin, black cat with multiple wounds
came out seeking attention. She called my father, who rushed Bast
to the vet

It is a wonder she is alive. The vet thinks she was hit by a car
and lay unconscious for a while. Her front and upper body is
fine. Her lower half is covered in huge scabs with missing fur.
The inner thigh of one leg is a mix of scabs and open wounds.
The outside of that leg is the worst. The vet believes she was
burned. There is no fur or skin in this area, just raw tissue.

As bad as it sounds, and I swear it looks bad, she sustained no
broken bones or internal injuries. She can walk slowly but can't
jump. On Saturday, she weighed five pound. The collar, which
played a crucial part in her rescue, dangled off her body like a
necklace. She has been eating and drinking well. When she went
back to the vet on Monday, she had gained a pound. As the vet
said, the worst is over.

On that beautiful Saturday, I posted the status that everyone had
been waiting for. "Bast is home!" Nearly 100 people have "liked"
that message. All my friends have expressed their relief that
Bast is home and sorrow for her injuries. Whatever happened
before, she is HOME, and she will HEAL. Bast, the Egyptian
Goddess of Cats, has proved to all that she is a survivor... and
a miracle.

To my father, local friends, friends on Facebook, the Pet
Finders, Aaron, the unknown people in the community who helped,
all the people who prayed for Bast and to Saint Gertrude, Patron
Saint of Cat, I give you my everlasting gratitude. It is so
inspiring to see a community come together for the sake of one
cat. My heart is now restored.


The reunited Orlando family
Angie, Joseph, Bast and Nut

Angie C. Orlando
April 2015

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