Chapter One: Janet!
The morning of September 7, 2019, we got a call from the SPCA.
They had picked up a cat who had a microchip that was registered to a Friends For Life adopter named Janet. They had called Janet and she said she didn’t know what they were talking about; her cat was sitting right next to her.
Since the microchip is also registered to us (as the initial “owner”), they gave us a call next to find out if our records matched the microchip registry. So, we did some looking, and it looked like the microchip belonged to a cat that was adopted in 2017, named Kumar who was adopted by… Janet!
But, the SPCA described this cat as a tabby; Kumar is a white and gray. So we had no idea who this cat was; but if the microchip belonged to us, chances are the cat belonged to us, so we arranged to pick him up.
Meanwhile, we went to storage to get Kumar’s folder, and in his paperwork, there is a completely different microchip number. So, our front desk looked it up.
…that microchip doesn’t exist in our database. They checked found.org, and that microchip belongs to a white and gray boy named Lil’ Tex who belongs to…
…wait for it…
So we get to SPCA (with no flipping idea what’s going on, or who this cat is, but hey… the cat needs us so… here we are) and the cat they brought out is this sweet gray tabby who might be… a girl.
We brought him (her?) back to the shelter and we planned on doing an intake soon. Cat Doe’s tail is degloved at the end, and they’ve got some wounds around the head/neck, so whoever this Cat Doe is, we were very glad they were safe with us now.
Chapter Two: The microchippening
FACT 1: Kumar’s microchip, that is recorded in Kumar’s folder, but not in the database, is registered to Janet.
FACT 2: Cat Doe’s microchip, that is physically in Cat Doe and was listed in the database under Kumar, is registered to Janet.
FACT 3: Both chips were implanted on the same day at BARC. The same day we got Kumar from BARC.
We checked the database, and there was a Dexter TOS cat (Thinking Outside the Shelter cat — what we call the cats we help so they don’t have to come into any shelter and they stay with their families) that was taken care of by us that same day, and one of the chips has the cat registered as “Dexter FFL Kumar ####”.
So we contacted BARC to see if they had any record of the microchip that is actually implanted in Cat Doe.
And they DID! They responded to us saying that on April 6, 2017 BARC neutered and chipped a cat named Dexter for us, but he doesn’t have a picture or any more info because they didn’t do an intake for him there. April 6, 2017 is also the day that we brought Kumar here from BARC, and we had a cat named Dexter with a TOS appointment with us.
So, we’re pretty sure this cat is Dexter (although, if we end up keeping him, we’re totally going to keep calling him Cat Doe).
Chapter Three: What we do know…
Cat Doe is, in fact, a male.
The poor dude’s tail is shorter than it has been in the past, because it ends in a bloody stump.
He’s also got some scabs around his head and neck—he’s had a rough few days.
But we have no confirmation that this cat is Dexter. So Feline manager, Beth, sent this story to our Fix Houston Manager, Keri, to see if she has any records of Dexter… and who he might have belonged to… and why we would have gotten him neutered and chipped at BARC for said owner.
Chapter Four: Dexter decoded
After some careful sleuthing and double checking, we figured out that Cat Doe is in fact a cat named Dexter that got neutered and chipped and had an appointment for TOS on the same day we got another cat from BARC.
Somehow both of the microchips got registered under Kumar, the other cat from BARC, and both registered to us (luckily for Cat Doe).
We found the TOS form, and attempted to call his owner, but the number was disconnected. So we took a chance and tried reaching out via email.
This week (Sept 16), we got a response.
His owner had lost him two years ago, and spent months searching for him—putting up flyers and posting on social media—to no avail. When she emailed us, she said she had since moved to Bolivia. She asked what the next steps were, and we asked her what she was hoping the outcome would be so we could both be on the same page.
In the meantime, we offered to keep him safe here and, if she wanted to, rehome him; plus, he had some healing to do.
Right now, he’s safe, fed, and comfortable, and that’s all that matters.
Chapter Five: We live up to our name
Working with Cat Doe’s previous owner, we have agreed to help her rehome him. Once he’s all healed up, and we can do a behavior assessment on him, he’ll be ready to find his forever home.
From Feline Manager, Beth:
Cat Doe has taught us so much about cats, shelter life, how to love, and how to live.
Well, maybe not all that, although I do love him. I feel like you could put a cardboard box in front of me and tell me it’s a cat that we are now enrolling, and I would love it though, so I’m by no means discerning with my love.
But Cat Doe has taught us the importance of microchipping animals, even if they’re only indoors. That’s why every single animal that is adopted out by us has a microchip that we transfer to the animal’s adopter at the time of the adoption. Not only that, but if your animal is microchipped, it’s important to keep the contact information up to date. How did Kumar get two separate microchips numbers registered to him and his owners? If Cat Doe’s people had checked their registration, a lot of heartache might have been saved (although that’s no criticism of them; they sincerely tried their best to find him).
Cat Doe has taught us that no matter how we plan our lives, our lives do what they want. Cat Doe’s owners didn’t WANT to lose him, they tried so hard to find him. They didn’t WANT to leave him behind, but they needed to relocate for their family.
Cat Doe has always been loved and wanted, but that didn’t save him from some rough time on the streets, and being picked up by SPCA.
And last, but certainly not least, Cat Doe has taught us that we live up to our name. We are friends to our animals, and their people, for life. Even the animals that we don’t have any hekkin’ clue who they are, if they are connected to us, we are there for them. We could have so easily left him for SPCA to deal with because he wasn’t our Kumar. For that matter, after contacting who they thought was his owner, the SPCA could have so easily stopped trying there and treated him like a stray, and never contacted us at all. We could have so easily given up trying to contact his people after the phone number didn’t work. He took up a lot of time and energy on a very busy Saturday, and him not even being our cat meant we didn’t have an obligation to him, technically.
Except we did.
Because he’s a part of us, even if it was just peripherally, and we, and all the other area shelters and rescues, have a duty to our community to do what we can, when we can. Cat Doe didn’t choose for any of this to happen to him, but we will always and forever choose Cat Doe.
Prequel: First contact
To add to this story, Cat Doe was picked up from Humble by SPCA. And they had gotten a couple calls about this cat before.
The first time they were requested for pickup of a stray cat that people had seen around. They were called back and told not to pick him up because they found the owner and the owner was going to come get him.
Then they got another call. The owner didn’t come get the cat because he didn’t want to/didn’t have the ability to take care of this cat anymore.
So, SPCA did end up picking up Cat Doe. And that could’ve very easily been the end of it.
But, luckily for Cat Doe, that’s where we came in.