Saturday September 4, 2010 10:50 p.m. – Still no Mugsy. Our traps (east of the construction) were empty and the food in the brush area back by the crash site (where she bolted from the first time, actually the second time) was undisturbed. The food at the four feeding stations (where I flung cat food around and smeared it on trees) was not touched. Not a creature was stirring by our cameras, not even a mouse.
WASART showed up at 8:00 a.m. They had three teams who rappelled down into the canyon area and placed our six wildlife cameras at six different feeding stations. At each station they placed a small bag of cat food and three cans of cat food. Our plan is to return in six days (on Friday September 10th) to pull the cameras and see if Mugsy was captured on film. Based on the fact that the only animals detected so far in the search area were two mice and one raccoon (trapped the day before I arrived) there won’t be competition for the cat food. If Mugsy is in there, she now has free access to food.
I am sure some will question WHY we aren’t going to retrieve the cameras sooner (than six days). We all want to see Mugsy rescued…NOW. Waiting and letting even more time pass seems…well, stupid to some I guess. But it has only been 7 days since the crash and Mugsy still might not be ready to respond to food. Remember the Siamese named Ginger who was hiding in fear inside of a wall? Ginger hunkered down and did not respond (by meowing) for seventeen days.
I had another case once of an extremely fearful cat that escaped at a vet’s office by jumping up onto a counter, through an open ceiling tile, and up into the attic. The vet put a humane trap up in the attic for two days but took it down after they didn’t catch the cat. They assumed the cat had escaped out of the roof. I called the vet staff and explained “The Threshold Factor” – the fact that skittish cats typically do NOT respond (to food, to sounds, to scent, etc.) until they reach a threshold point — sometimes seven to twelve days (sometimes less, sometimes more). I encouraged the vet staff to put the humane trap back up in the attic and to wait patiently. It took twenty two days before that cat finally entered the trap! It was dehydrated and emaciated but it recovered and was fine.
I found out during my stay in Snoqualmie a few things about this case that could explain why we haven’t caught Mugsy. First, I learned that Mugsy was actually hiding under the I-90 overpass immediately after the accident. The firefighters on scene attempted to rescue her but Mugsy bolted south into the brushy area. The next day a well-meaning search party went into the brush to rescue her but flushed her a second time (into the larger area with the marsh where we hope she is now). I had assumed that since that time that everyone has been staying out of the search area. I was wrong. Even up until the day that I arrived I discovered there were still people going into the search area, including a woman I ran into at the hotel (none of the organized team knew about this gal) who told me she and her friend spent over two hours “searching the woods for Mugsy.”
If Mugsy had only been left alone and given enough time to calm down without people flushing her from hiding place to hiding place, we could’ve had a decent shot at humanely trapping her. Now, I’m not so sure. If it turns out that Mugsy is not in the search area with the marsh (and we’ll know this on Friday) then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why she’s wasn’t there. The difficult part of this situation is that the people going into the woods are compassionate and truly acting in what they believe to be the best interest of Mugsy.
Something good happened today that gave me hope. This was before I burned my hand, before my router (thing that, I don’t know, routes your email or something) crapped out and I could not access the Internet, and before I broke down and cried. Someone drove up to my house and said their Golden Retriever was missing. I immediately activated my volunteers who sprang into action and prepared to respond. I tagged my car with the lost dog info, but within twenty minutes of doing that I learned that the dog was reunited with his owner. He had scratched on a neighbor’s front door who let him in and then called Animal Control.
Sometimes recovering a lost pet takes only twenty minutes. Sometimes it takes twenty days. I wish it was Friday already.