In August 2005 I was staying at a hotel while attending a cat show out of my local area. I was staying over until Monday to visit with friends who took me out to dinner Sunday night after the show.
After an utterly enjoyable dinner I returned to my room to find that my Ocicat kitten, Kopi, was missing!
I had been careful to make sure he had not gotten out before leaving for dinner. In fact, he really doesn't even try to get out; he is just not a door dasher. I had also put the "Do Not Disturb" card onto the door.
There was no doubt in my mind that Kopi had been in that room when I left!
I frantically searched the room - even flipping up the mattress and box springs - thinking he had to be there somewhere, although he is always happy to have you return and greets you even from the tent.
I went to phone the desk of the hotel and my phone wasn't working either so I went down to the desk. Two employees came to help me go through the room one more time. We searched again.
Although I knew he had not gotten out we searched through the whole hotel. Nothing. I also noticed at some point that the toy we had been playing with was missing. At that point we all began to suspect that someone had entered the room and taken him.
I called my friends and they returned. Although they were as sure as I that Kopi could not have had not gotten out, we searched the room again. In total, the room was searched five times.
The Police Are Called
The police came twice, but would do nothing because there was no sign of forced entry. They searched the hotel, too, but there was really nowhere for a kitten to hide had he gotten out. No one wanted to believe he had been taken, but we began to wonder if the hotel worker who had admired him and who I had let hold him had been involved. She had also come to the show with her boyfriend who she told that this was the kitten she liked so much.
Needless to say I was distraught. I don't think I've ever been so upset in my life. I could just see his little face and felt I'd never see it again. What else could I do?
Around 4:30 am on Monday morning I went to talk to the night manager. My daughter Wendy and I talked to a lot of our friends and they all felt the most important thing I could do was make it clear that I would not be leaving without my kitten and that I would take every measure to get him back.
I told the night manager that I would not be leaving until I got the kitten, that I had spoken to the local tv station, WMUR, and would be doing a TV interview. I told her that I would be hiring a private detective, and that we would be sending flyers with the kitten's picture to veterinarians in that state and the two nearby states.
A reward was offered for the kitten's return. I asked the night manager to talk to all the employees and tell them that if they had the kitten to return it and they would not be prosecuted. I also told her that if the person who took the kitten took him because they liked him and thought they would not be able to afford one that I would give them a kitten.
On Monday morning around 7AM I began calling anyone who I thought could help.
The show managers offered their assistance and contacted an animal communicator who was going to work with us. They also had the names and addresses of all vets in the area. They were also super supportive. I cannot thank them enough. We did discuss that the kitten was not microchipped and they told me the experience that a pet buyer of theirs had and how they had come to start microchipping.
Then, a "miracle" occurred! At around 9 AM someone on the hotel staff "found" Kopi in the stairwell. I have never been so happy in my life. Interestingly, he was neither hungry nor tired, which he would have been both had he gotten out. He did not eat until dinner time, he had full appearance and he just wanted to play when he got back into the room.
Finally around 3 pm he and I were able to take a nap. I did not leave his side, not even to go to the drink machine.
The Bottom Line
So, here's the bottom line of this incident and I don't mean to be over reactive, but we just need to be more vigilant.
I know I'm proud of Kopi so when this woman liked him so much I did not hesitate to take him out of his bag and let her see him and hold him. I know we like to keep a good image with the public and letting them see and pet our cats is one way, but we now wonder if it's not best to downplay our cats, by taking them into the hotel in carriers with covers, for instance.
Also, our cats will be microchipped from now on. I believe we'd never have gotten Kopi back had we not taken a stand, said I'd stay in town till he was returned, called in the TV people who were anxious to do a spot, been willing to go to the extent of hiring a private investigator and started to plan for distribution of flyers with the kitten's picture to all vets and shelters in the area and offered a reward.
The police did tell me not to mention the value of the cat and I think that is good advice.
So for those of you have read this far, make a plan now on what you'd do if something like this happened to you. I know I was so panicked that had I not had my daughter Wendy, our friends Jo and Cherry and all the friends Wendy called to help us formulate a plan I would not have been able to come up with all these ideas on how to get Kopi back.
While I just wanted to lie down and cry I do believe it was best that I continually walked down to the desk to ask what they'd done. It let them know I wasn't just going to go away.
I want to thank everyone for their part in supporting us and helping us get ideas on how to get Kopi back. My daughter, Wendy, who had stayed home that weekend to deliver kittens was by my side via phone through all of this. The show management was wonderful and went way above and beyond as did Jo and Cherry. Speaking of Jo and Cherry, what wonderful ladies they are. How did Wendy and I ever get lucky enough to meet them and make them our friends and now our family?
About The Author:
Sheri Reese, along with her daughter, Wendy, the founder of Spots-A-Lot Ocicats, has specialized in showing and breeding Ocicats since October of 2000.
Spots O-lot is the home of GC, NW Tribal Kambara Puku of Spots O-Lot, a national winner in 2004-2005 and GC, RW Spots O-Lot's Starbuck of Jewllz, the first cinnamon spotted Ocicat kitten to achieve a regional win in CFA history.