While this may seem like your run of the mill cat-lost-and-returns story, there are a number of questions it raises about cats, their owners, and technology. As it turns out, the cat, Boo, went missing when she was 4 years old. The owner, Janet Adamowicz of Harrogate, England, gave tabby up for lost and moved on, adopting two other cats who she named Ollie and Tessie.
Boo was found by someone who lived 40 miles away from Janet’s home, brought it to a vet who then used the implanted microchip to locate the owner. According to Janet, Boo remembered her and then proceeded to take her home to join Ollie and Tessie. And everyone lived happily ever after.
Or did they? There is no word as to how the other cats reacted to the new intruder, who tend to be territorial by nature. There is less room and more competition for attention at feeding time. For Janet it is one more litter box to maintain and one more vet bill, provided everything is normal with Boo after 13 years on the run. If not, there may be multiple vet bills in the future, devaluing Boo’s presence.
Then there is Boo herself. Everyone knows that once you feed a cat it will keep coming back and pestering you until you give in. But here, Boo was reported to have only been slightly dehydrated but otherwise in good health, making you wonder why she didn’t bother trying to find her way back home. When asked whether she had a missing cat, at first Adamowicz unequivocally said no. She later said that Boo “has done well as a 17-year-old cat to last that long as a stray cat — it really is remarkable.” Maybe Janet was glad she left. Maybe Janet should be investigated for animal abuse.
Speaking of animal rights, maybe Boo was quite content to forage about the landscape, as she had done for more than a decade. Ms. Do-Gooder neighbor snatched her up after seeing Boo wander about for a few weeks. Doesn’t Boo have the right to be left alone? It seems if Boo wanted to return home she had 13+ years of opportunity to do so. And what if Boo had a litter that required her attention, now uncared for because of Ms. Do-Gooder? The do-gooder’s name apparently is unavailable, but it can be asked just how she managed to get her hands on Boo? Cats, nervous creatures that they are, tend to shy away from strangers.
Back to Adamowicz, she said that Boo remembered her. You would be right to ask just how she knows this. If you find the article, which comes complete with pics, you don’t see a very happy cat. Actually, Boo looks kind of grumpy, maybe because she has begun to realize that with her discovery comes the loss of freedom. It’s likely that for her own protection Boo will be forced to become a house cat, imprisoned for the remainder of her 9 lives. The microchip can ensure that.
Which brings about the issue of the role of technology. As most people know, technology is a
double edged sword. The story says that everyone at the vet’s office was happy with the reunion. But this seems like a possible violation of an animal owner’s rights. If my pet – cat, dog, ferret – decides to go on their own why should I be required to take them back in a decade later? The alternative may have been to put Boo down, but the legal alternatives have to be investigated since this is a rare event. Maybe there should be an expiration date built into the implants that not only free the pet from their owner, but allow the owner to move on. It seems only humane.
How serious these issues actually are is up to the reader, but there do seem to be more than a few questions to be asked and answered. Some of these questions would fall by the way side if Boo was injured or showed signs of recent abuse. Getting her to a safe place would have been a priority – and rightfully so.
So Miss Janet Adamowicz of Harrogate, England, if you are reading this article, know there is at least one person who is wondering why your first response to the news of your missing cat was “Boo who?”