Mishka the tuxedo cat just experienced a mysterious two years. He had enjoyed a little exploring after he was left outside by accident. Unfortunately, his unexpected meander turned into two years. Mishka went missing completely. Even worse, Mishka was completely declawed, so he didn’t have much to protect himself in the wild outdoors. His owner, Shaina Dolan, called for him and looked for him every day for months. She was truly beside herself with worry. But Mishka was nowhere in sight. Shaina had plenty of Mishka “sightings” which didn’t turn out to be Mishka. She told WDAY ABC that Mishka’s absence “left a hole in her heart”. She was often tagged on Facebook with news of cats that looked like Mishka- but was never him. She lost hope and started to automatically assume that every Facebook post was another dead end.
But to Shaina’s surprise, a recent Facebook post changed all of that. Facebook member Karen Schur tagged Shaina with a photo of a black and white cat. Karen is a member of the Facebook group Fargo/Moorhead Lost & Found Pets and Personal Items. She posted the photo with the comment that the cat had been scratching on her deck door to come inside. She also included her North Fargo location so that someone seeing the post might live nearby and discover the lost cat as being theirs.
Shaina wasn’t completely convinced that the black and white cat photo posted on Facebook was one of Mishka. After all, the post described the cat as “her” and Mishka was decidedly a “him”. But Shaina knew that the markings seemed to match Mishka’s and the lost and found cat also had all four paws declawed. She had to go and see if the cat just might be Mishka after all. Shaina went to meet the mystery cat. She’d seen others before….to the point of losing hope completely. But lucky for her, she knew it was Mishka when he greeted her with purrs and friendly rubbing her leg. In thinking over the two years he was away, Shaina considered that someone was probably taking god care of him. Mishka was free of ear mites, had obviously been eating well, and was in good physical shape.
Shaina told WDAY ABC that she was grateful for the person who took care of Mishka during his two-year hiatus from home. She said that not everyone would be willing to watch over someone else’s pet for such a long time. She suspected that someone had been friendly enough to either let Mishka indoors or inside a garage or shed where he could have shelter. Facebook cat owners were not so kind when posting about Mishka’s story. In fact, there were argumentative posts including a link to PETA explaining why cats should never be declawed.
PETA’s (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) description of declawing explains that removing a cat’s claws is “the equivalent of cutting a human’s fingers off at the first knuckle”. It’s not at all like a manicure where the nails grow back after time. It’s completely permanent and it is painful for cats to recuperate afterwards. Many never walk normally again and spend time avoiding walking on their crippled toes. Cats use scratching as part of healthy exercise. They enjoy using their nails to stretch and move. Without claws, cats no longer have their most natural way of defending themselves from predators. Sometimes, declawed cats feel insecure, so they compensate by being more aggressive. Because they can’t claw, they start to bite instead. The surgery to declaw is painful long after it’s done. Cats need to learn how to walk all over again because their natural balance has been disturbed. They are also likely to not use their litterboxes anymore.
Others supported Mishka’s story by posting that it really wasn’t about being declawed. It was about the happiness Shaina and Mishka experienced when they were reunited after two years. It was also about the amazing, mysterious life that Mishka led while away. One owner posted the sadness about having to declaw her own cat so that she could move into an apartment with the kitty. Her hope was that nobody could require declawing anymore as part of the right to live in certain apartments. She also lost her kitty when a window was accidently left open. Her kitty never came home, but she was very excited to learn that Mishka had.
The Public Facebook group Fargo/Moorehead Lost & Found Pets and Personal Items is to be credited for coming up with a unique way to help people find lost things. With 14,263 members and counting, the group provides ongoing news about pets all around the area using photos and videos along with eye-witness descriptions to help as many lost animals be found by their owners as possible. The group allows people to post not only descriptions, photos, and videos of their lost pets. People can tell their stories about how and where their pet was lost, where they had checked to see if their pets had been rescued, and information about shelters and rescues local to the area for comparison purposes.
Many, many also share their fears for their pets’ safety and worry that they may never see their pet again. At the same time, they are able to describe their pets’ typical characteristic or behaviors that distinguish them from other animals. These become clues for pet-seeking detectives who search to find matches between behaviors and pet descriptions. Often, it’s the combination of a simple, distinctive behavior with a pet’s appearance which tips off a searcher that this may be the pet they are trying to find.
At the end of the day, Shaina was thrilled to be with Mishka once again. He’s back home with Shaina in Fargo where he belongs. He’s enjoying quality time with Shaina once more, and she is thrilled. Her plans for Mishka include having a microchip implanted so that wandering Mishka could more easily be found if he happens to have a momentarily happy escape to the outdoors once again.