It’s any cat caretaker’s worst nightmare: In the middle of the night, halfway through a long road trip, your beloved cat disappears.
That’s what happened to Ingen and her person, Jen, during a cross-country trip to Washington state. On Sept. 29, they stopped at a motel in Madison, Wis., to take a rest before continuing their journey. Jen took her dog out for a midnight walk, and when she opened the door to her room, she thought she felt her cat slip by her feet. The next morning, Jen looked all around the motel grounds and alerted local animal control officials that Ingen had gone missing.
Jen contacted her friend Lisa Provost, whom she had met through the Catster forums, to tell her about Ingen’s plight. Catsters Alex, Lacey and Finnegan posted the word in the Plus Power of the Paw forum, and an amazing rescue effort was set in motion.
Lisa shared Ingen’s story in her website’s e-mail newsletter. Catster Samoa did a search and located every Catster cat in the Madison area, then senteach one a personal message asking for help to find Ingen. An ad was posted on Craigslist, and cat lovers throughout the area shared the link to the post on their Facebook pages.
Lots of Catsters came forward with ideas from contacting the local media to gathering money for a reward to papering the entire city with flyers about Ingen. The mom of Catster members Sleeper and Samhain called the Dane County Humane Society repeatedly she wanted them to know that if Ingen did come into their custody, there was a very anxious owner looking for her.
A couple of days later, another woman checked into the room where Jen had stayed … and heard a cat meowing. It turned out that Ingen had been in the motel room, wedged between the mattress and the box spring, the whole time. The woman took Ingen to the Dane County Humane Society, where the cat could be under their care until Jen could return to pick her up.
“When I woke up to hear a voicemail from Jen saying shed been found, I cried! It was such a relief,” Lisa said.
Madison’s Catsters quickly rallied to Ingen and Jen’s aid. Spooky’s mom heard the story through Samoa and visited Ingen in the shelter to reassure her that she and Jen would soon be reunited. She gave the cat a blanket and a toy, and even took some pictures to share with Jen and the rest of her Catster friends.
But they didn’t just sit back and relax once Ingen had been found. They set up a ChipIn to get Ingen back to her new home in Washington state. People from all over the world have been making contributions, and as of today, $580 has been raised to pay for travel arrangements and for Ingen’s room and board at the shelter. Cathy, the mom of Catster member Bella, has even provided Ingen a temporary homeuntil travel arrangements can be finalized.
If it hadn’t been for the kindness and caring of the Catster community, and their willingness to go the extra mile for one of their fellow felines, Ingen might never have been found.
Why did Lisa throw herself into the search-and-rescue effort with such energy? When she joined the Catster forums, “I was welcomed so lovingly and shown such kindness its changed me for the better and [Jen’s] a part of that. So many of them are. Its truly amazing that I feel like I am family with all of these people and their babies that Ive never met in person.”
Even Jen didn’t expect her fellow Catsters to step up as they did. “This has been an incredible time. First the loss of Ingen, the amazing support, the finding of Ingen and even more support. I am overwhelmed and speechless,” she wrote in an e-mail to me. “Thank you EFURONE on Catster.”
That, my friends, is what makes a community: Caring, kindness, love, and compassion for all our fellow beings, and the desire to take that virtual friendship into the “real world” and help others when it’s needed. And that’s what makes me so proud to be a Catster.
(Note: I would love to have been able to include photos of all the cats involved in Ingen’s rescue, but I didn’t have time to ask permission of some of the owners. Please visit all their profiles and give them a special treat and don’t forget to thank them for their efforts to help reunite Jen and Ingen.)