When good old-fashioned newspaper advertising brings results.
Two weeks’ ago I lost my cat. A cat moves, so strictly speaking I didn’t lose her, she wandered off, was chased or possibly even stolen. Anyone who has a much-loved pet will know how this feels.
Amber was a rescue cat. In October 2011, I wrote a feature on Thornberry Animal Sanctuary, based in North Anston near Sheffield. In January we went back to Thornberry and brought Amber home.
Everybody loved Amber: my parents, the neighbours, random people in the street whom she followed. At only a year old, she was still quite kittenish. She loved playing with ribbons and batting pens off my desk. She hid round corners and jumped out at us, tapping our legs before racing off.
All my neighbours knew Amber. If their front door was open, she’d dive inside to explore. Whenever our next-door neighbours were getting ready to go away, she’d jump inside their caravan as if she wanted to go on holiday too.
When we first let her out we were worried that, being a rescue cat, she might run off. She never did. She did, however, climb trees and get stuck, follow me to the local park when I took the dog for a walk and biff next door’s Rottweiler on the nose (he took to hiding when she was around).
But Amber always came home. I work from a home office and regularly throughout the day she’d pop in through the cat flap, wind herself round my legs, jump on the desk or curl up in the corner and go to sleep.
She went missing, it was over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend. Over the next week, I asked around and put up posters. I phoned the local vet and Thornberry as she was microchipped. She was always careful on the road but I was worried that she might have gone exploring and got locked in someone’s garage or shed while they went away for the long weekend or even the half-term week.
On the Friday after she’d gone missing, a couple of neighbours said they’d seen her during the week on a nearby street. That day an ad went in the paper. I had calls from all over the area, literally miles apart. They all mentioned her distinctive bushy tail, like a fox’s.
I followed up each call and put up more posters to no avail. Then on Saturday I had a call from someone saying they’d seen a cat with a fox-like tail following some teenagers round a nearby park. I went down but no sign. About an hour later, a lady called whose house faced the park. Our cat had been in her house and she’d fed her, but Amber hadn’t taken to her six cats and she’d let her out again. She hadn’t realised Amber was missing until she read the paper later.
By then it was dark but I went back down and we combed the streets and the allotments behind the lady’s house. I was just turning to leave, with the intention of coming back in the morning, when Amber trotted up behind me.
Now that she’s safely back home, none the worse for wear and as playful as ever, it got me thinking about the power of print advertising.
Although the messages I got from friends and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook were a great source of advice and support, ultimately it was a small advert in a local newspaper that helped find Amber.
While the death of the newspaper is reported just about every week and many regional newspapers are going from daily to weekly or being swallowed up by larger groups, many local newspapers continue to provide a valuable service for local people.
So thank you to the Huddersfield Examiner and all those people who saw my ad and took the trouble to call.
UPDATE: After a week at home, Amber disappeared again, only to reappear of her own accord a few days later, clean and dry but hungry. I think we will have to accept we have an adventurous cat who gets taken by wanderlust.
Read the feature on Thornberry Animal Sanctuary
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