Four years ago, Shaina and I impulsively decided we were going to adopt a cat, and have it live at the dog training facility. We knew we had to find the ‘right’ cat; A cat who could tolerate business, lots of human interaction, wasn’t stressed out by dogs, and had a ‘go with the flow’ personality. We decided to go visit the Cat Care Society in Lakewood, Colorado.
The Cat Care Society has a wonderful facility dedicated to all things cats, with various rooms of enrichment filled with the multiple cats that lived there. We were convinced we were looking for a kitten; one that could adapt to facility life. Shaina and I spent about an hour visiting various kitties before wandering up to the front desk, where people were coming and going (delivery drivers, adopters, and employees).
At the desk, was a large, content, big-headed tabby cat that was utterly unconcerned about all the goings on. This is our cat! We filled out the application, and Downtown Leroy Brown came home to Dog Dynamix.
The history of Leroy was vague. According to the Cat Care Society, he was part of a feral cat colony. He was captured, vetted, neutered, and awaiting adoption. He habituated to humans and life very easily. That’s rare for feral cats. Usually, they are very skittish. Feral cats tend to be one-person kitties that can stress easily. Not Leroy, he was one cool cat. He adjusted to facility life very easily. And he was super food motivated, so he trained easily. We set up the facility with cat trees, and wall-mounted walkways, so if he wanted or needed to get out of the dogs’ way, he could. He really seemed to enjoy living there. But the wild was calling him.
One morning, during routine chores, an employee propped the door open and Leroy slipped outside. He instantly reverted to feral behavior – becoming slinky and fearful, not recognizing us when we called him. He wouldn’t come near people, so we decided to set a trap, and two weeks went by before one morning, there he was!
We brought him in and he acted as if nothing had happened. He wasn’t any worse for wear, he could obviously survive on his own. He went right back to his routine and wasn’t phased at all…… Until the wild called again.
This photo was taken just a few days before Leroy slipped out again (a different door this time).
Again he went completely feral, and would not come to shaking bags of treats or any other bribes. We tried setting the trap again and checked it regularly. We printed fliers and went door to door, asking people in the area if they had seen him. We posted his ‘missing’ information online, and on social media, and notified local shelters. (If you ever lose your cat, here is a comprehensive list of steps to take.)
Days turned into weeks. There were no sightings of Leroy. Weeks turned into months. We always suspected somebody was feeding him and decided to keep him because he was such a gem of a kittie.
Leroy went missing in September of 2019, and YESTERDAY, over 3 years later, we received a call from Foothills Animal Shelter. Leroy was turned into the shelter with 5 other cats! The shelter staff shared with us that someone close to our facility trapped him and the others and turned them all in. Leroy was close to home the entire time.
Because it’s Christmas, I’m choosing to believe that this person did, in fact, put their own time and money into trapping this feral cat colony; That they didn’t feed and ‘adopt’ several cats until it became too much and avoided the relinquishment fees by claiming they were strays; That they didn’t notice that Leroy was wearing a red leather rhinestone collar with a bowtie and a tag on it; that they were just doing the right thing and helping needy animals; Because it’s Christmas, and in the spirit, we are just happy and grateful that after 3 years of not knowing, Leroy is safe and he is HOME.
Three years! Leroy was gone for three years…. And the thing that brought him back to us was a microchip. Please be sure your pets are microchipped and you have recent photos of them showing any unique markings. Should your pet ever go missing, you need to be able to prove ownership, and we had both the microchip and the slew of photo and video evidence that he is our cat.
And lastly, if you have it in your hearts and homes, unprecedented numbers of animals have been turned into the shelter in the last few months. The Covid Pet Craze has waned, and thousands of dogs and cats are being abandoned because the shine has worn off, or they never trained their animal to coexist properly. Five of Leroy’s friends are in there, along with several other nice, family dogs that just need a little dog training. They could use a Christmas Miracle, too.