Heather Foster had just paid a pizza delivery man and closed her front door when she realized her cat, Bruce Lee, was missing.
“Every time the doorbell rings, Bruce comes to see who it is,” explains Heather. “He’s a lot of cat, and very social, so I noticed pretty quickly that he was gone.”
Figuring Bruce (named after the martial artist Bruce Lee because he can jump very high) must have slipped out the front door, Heather checked a nearby flower bed, where she had found him once before. He wasn’t there, so she scoured the neighborhood. Still, no Bruce.
Bruce can jump very high.
Heather went online and soon came across the ASPCA’s Mobile App. She downloaded it to receive step-by-step instructions from the app’s Missing Pet Kit, and used it to list her lost pet’s circumstances.
“I literally went down the checklist to make sure I had covered all the bases,” she recalls.
With the help of the app, Heather created a flyer that she posted around her neighborhood. She borrowed a friend’s wildlife trap. She set up a webcam in her backyard. She also kept her garage door open and set out enticing food.
Heather, a retail sales manager who lives in Moore, Oklahoma—the heart of Tornado Alley—has lived through many a tornado and understands the importance of disaster preparation. Her house includes a shelter under the garage with space and provisions for her and her pets, which include another cat named Ellie and a rescued Beagle mix named Pearl. All of her pets have collars and ID tags and are micro-chipped.
“I take all the precautions I can and always watch the weather,” Heather says.
But a week later, Bruce had not appeared. Unswayed, Heather continued to change the food in the garage—switching from tuna to wet cat food (“the smellier the better”)—along with a blanket from the house and Bruce’s litter box.
“Indoor cats can easily get disoriented if they end up outdoors,” Heather explains, “So it’s helpful to put something outside that belongs to them or smells like them. And what could be more personal than a litter box?”
On the ninth day after his disappearance, at 4:30 in the morning, Bruce found his way to Heather’s garage and the smelly food, announcing his arrival with a loud meow.
Bruce and Heather.
To people who have lost—or not yet lost—their pets, Heather offers the tips she found on the ASPCA mobile app and encourages them not to give up.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help from neighbors, and don’t ever think you’ll be an imposition,” says Heather, who knocked on doors in her immediate and surrounding neighborhoods. “Pets can really bring people together. I needed support. Most people admitted they’d be just as distraught if their own pets went missing.”
“There’s no such thing as a timeline,” Heather adds. “Your pet is somewhere.”
September is Disaster Preparedness Month, and the ASPCA wants to ensure that all pet parents are ready to take action at a moment’s notice. Download the ASPCA Mobile App today for vital tips, information and step-by-step guides to help protect you and your pet in the event of an emergency.
Photos courtesy of Heather Foster.