Neptune - Always Missed and Always Loved: An Indoor-Outdoor Controversy
by Katherine Lee
(Hawley PA USA)
Neptune on the couch
I unfortunately know a great deal about the loss and pain of one of my kids due to the outdoors, and it infuriates me because it was never my choice to let him out, it was my parents, who had always had cats outdoors because it used to be SAFE and they had them for years. But I know in this generation, it is most definitely not.
I've seen too many cats get hit by cars in front of our house, people have poisoned them, our one neighbor used to try to get his dog to attack them, when I worked with a vet office a half-dozen cats
were brought in shot by both guns and arrows-likely done by heartless teens, one had rabies, and I've seen WAY too many people who've ADOPTED "strays" or "ferals"…usually not too long after I've heard someone say they're missing their pet cat. It's not right to "rescue" a cat or dog by stealing it from the home it already has.
I have 9 cats, indoor-only, fixed, microchipped, and with their shots.
Our one cat, Neptune, a black male, was stolen from us on Halloween in 2005. He was my shadow, took walks with me, came inside and cuddled under the blanket and watched tv with me, watched me go to school from the front steps, even tried to go on the bus with me when I went to school, and would always sit on our steps with his brother waiting for me when I got home from school.
And I was there when him and his brother were born. I was only a kid, and was trick-or-treating with friends, and like he always did, he tried to follow me. I wanted to bring him back in the house, but I knew if I did my parents would put him back out because they thought it was silly to think someone
would hurt him because of the holiday and that it was an urban legend, but I was very worried.
My friends said we'd only be gone 15 minutes and then I could bring him in. I told him to sit and wait when we crossed the street, and he used to actually sit and wait for me, and he went to the edge of a hill right next to where we were standing and sat down next to the trees and watched us.
….and I have that image burned into my mind still 7 years later because that was the last time I ever saw my him, who is and always will be my cat who I love and miss very much.
He'll always be a member of our family. I called for him non-stop when we got home and had a chill down my spine because I felt that something was wrong, but my friends blew it off because to them cats were like that, but he ALWAYS came when I called him. He had two collars on that night, and I know no one with good intentions would take someone's friendly black cat with TWO collars on, on Halloween night.
And I know people will argue that people who let their pets out do not care about them, but that's untrue. First, sometimes the pet's parents aren't the ones who decided to let them out, and second, that's like saying that if it was me who went missing instead of Neptune that night, that because my parents let me outside trick-or-treating, that they must not love me. That's ludicrous.
We love our cats more than most people I know and, except for Neptune who was taken from us, they are all still with us and the youngest is going on 7 years old. They are my kids,and they all get the best food, vet care, and attention. I wouldn't give them up for the world, and just because some people don't agree with the lifestyle my parents thought they should have continued to have, it doesn't make my parents heartless because they thought they'd be safe outside from dangers and crazy neighbors.
Where they're from, it was safe, and cats weren't routinely harmed by cars or people, likely because the surroundings were more rural. You just can't trust people around your pets like you could years ago.
They try to steal, hurt, 're-locate' or 're-home' someone else's pet. I don't see how that translates to bad owners, just bad neighbors, although I am very much an advocate for having indoor pets myself, it's not right to condemn someone for letting their pets outside.
I posted lost flyers for months on phone poles, local stores, etc. , went door-to-door, reported
him missing to shelters and every online site I could find to post on. The mayor even called to ask if we'd found him…. Nothing. I know people say people do cruel things to pets on Halloween and I know that's true, but I really think someone took him and kept him as a "lucky" Halloween cat, claiming they "rescued" him.
I cried my eyes out for months, and years later I still miss him like it happened yesterday, and my parents feel horrible because they never thought in a million years anyone could be that heartless.
There are too many people
out there who take
people's pets, and that's my biggest pet peeve, not the other dangers, because most cats do well to avoid them, but self-righteous people who actually kidnap someone else's family member just because it wandered into their yard.
And what's interesting is that we had 3 cats allowed out at the time (2 of them are now indoor-only and have been for years) and a neighbor up the street had been trying to take him and his brother just weeks earlier, and when I told my parents they said I was paranoid, that no one would do something like that.
I caught them taking off their collars and ID tags (which is illegal) and replacing them with flea collars. We bought new collars and just put them back on before he went missing. I confronted the neighbors and they claimed they'd seen the "strays" around for months, and they didn't have any collars on so they "gave" them some. Of course they'd seen them for months, they've lived a block away for almost 2 years!!!! And they DID have collars on, and tags, I saw them take them off!!!!
Then days later I caught them trying to bribe his brother into their house with wet food, so I called him and he ran to me, which made them angry that he came when I called him, despite their attempts to coax him away. So I got to bring Neptune's brother inside until the next spring since the neighbors were clearly trying to take him (mom saw them try too so she let him stay inside entirely for a while).
Then Neptune got taken on Halloween, just weeks after his brother, Milo, came in. When his brother was allowed back out again the next year, the neighbors tried to steal him again a few years later, and caught him and brought him in their house and we had to get police involved to get him back, and now that my parents know that they were trying to take him and I wasn't paranoid, he's at home and at home he'll stay. He hasn't tried to go out once, but he does try to get in my room to share my bed when I sleep. :)
Then, the day before Christmas, our 3rd and only other cat allowed outside at the time (also all black, and Neptune's dad-who's neutered by the way, Magick), went missing and wasn't there when I went out to call him. Odd.
He came home the day after Christmas, really jumpy and wide-eyed, smelled of shampoo, with a gash on his neck where it looked like his collar had been cut off. He was hiding under the porch, but responded to my voice and meowed when I called him, so I sat down, and he snuck out and onto my lap and buried his head in my arms.
Something really horrified him. And since it was getting dark and I saw the all-black part, I was thrilled because I thought Neptune had come home, but not only was it not him, it was our other cat, who someone also tried to steal!!!!
So him and Neptune's brother are now solely indoor-only cats, and Neptune's still missing and we're all still heart-broken. Our other two cats don't try to go out at all since they've been in, but Neptune's brother does sit in the window and stare at where I used to sit with them and they'd fall asleep on my lap. I think he still misses him too.
I'm happy that all of our cats are indoor-only now that my parents understand and I am old enough to
decide for myself that they stay in where it's safe, but I still feel like a part of our family will always be missing without Neptune.
That's also why I won't take any cat I see out because I know it likely has a home and it isn't my place to decide what's best for it. If it needs vet care, I would do that and put up FOUND cat flyers so the owner could get their cat back home. If I knew with certainty that it was a wild/feral cat or had suspicions that it was an abandoned stray, I would do TNR (trap-neuter-release) and then let it back out and give it food/water and an outdoor shelter with a warm place to sleep in bad weather, but I wouldn't lock it up in my house because you never really know where it's from or who's missing him/her, or if they are allowed out, and that is for their owner to decide, not me.
I would never take someone's pet because no matter my opinion on someone else's life or decision I know personally what it feels like when your pet's missing. And unlike what people claim, that the owners don't care or they'll get over it, you never really get over it, and it's not right to tear someone's family apart from them because you think you can make a better one. That's not rescuing, that's kidnapping. Rescuing is saving a cat that is lost or hurt and helping it heal and return it home to its original family.
~We love and miss you Neptune, wherever you are.~