You could never understand what it means to be a pet owner if you’ve never been one. Most pet owners will tell you that pets are family. They are an extension of who a person is, and most people definitely treat them as such. So when a pet gets lost or dies, it naturally feels like a big part of life is lost as well. That’s exactly what happened to one Clarksville, Tennessee resident. Early one morning in February 2019, Anne Shackelford found her beloved pet cat Riley jumping out of the doggy door of her home. Panic struck her right away, and Anne tried her best to run after her cat. However, Riley was already lost before she could even get through the door, and Anne was just devastated. It’s the same feeling you would feel if you ever lost anything important in your life.
Anne spent months upon months searching for Riley. It’s a much more difficult task to find a missing pet than anyone could imagine. First off, cats are much smaller than dogs, and unless you have a unique breed, cats–most of the time—all tend to look the same to the average eye. Anne might’ve been able to pick her cat out from a bunch, but the rest of her community had a harder time. Anne knew exactly what Riley’s markings were, including a mark under the cat’s nose. In an interview with a local news channel, Anne mentioned that Riley had a freckle under her nose just as she did, and the photo showed the remarkable markings side by side. The freckle could’ve helped anyone identified Riley, but even after months of looking around, Anne had no luck whatsoever.
The most unfortunate part of the story is the fact that Anne actually had to stop searching. She got offered a job that would have her move all the way to Seattle. This meant that Anne had to stop any effort to look for her furry friend, which she probably would’ve kept doing otherwise. Many people told Anne that she needed to move on. Many people told her that she could love another cat the same way. Again, only pet owners would understand that it really just isn’t that easy to let go.
To understand a little bit how much hurt Anne felt by losing Riley, we need to understand cat behavior just a bit. The debate of whether cats are better than dogs has been going on since the beginning of animal domestication. Pet owners will explain to you that cats are very much different from dogs in every way possible. Cats have a completely different temperament, and some might argue that they are even smarter than dogs. That’s another debate altogether. But for our purpose here, you need to understand that domesticated cats are mostly indoor animals. They are extremely independent, but they could also get very attached to their human owners. They are loyal and loving.
While they are naturally curious creatures, their curiosities are satisfied easily. This is why cats like to sit on high places or on window ledges. They like to see their surroundings, but for most of them that’s the extent of what they like about anything outdoors. Cats have to be taken outside like other animals to get some sunlight, but they only need very little space to move around. They prefer to climb as a matter of fact.
This is exactly what made Riley’s behavior a little unusual. It’s not uncommon for cats to run out, but most cats are able to trace their way back to their homes. For Riley to get lost for months is a unique situation. What’s even more unique is the way she was found. Anne ended up taking the job in Seattle, but she didn’t lose hope that she would be reunited with Riley once again. It was through the positive powers of social media that Anne and Riley got to see each other again. Anne recently posted on the Lost and Found Pets of Clarksville Tennessee. She said that it had been a year since she lost her cat, and that if anyone found Riley, she would be on the first plane back home. Anne posted pictures of Riley and a list of descriptions that would help identify her car.
To her amazement and the awe of so many other people, someone actually had Riley in their company. Cats M.E.O.W. TNR rescued Riley after a call was put in to capture some strays and feral cats in the Clarksville area. According to the rescuers, they constantly get phone calls from the community to trap cats that are not owned. Apparently, Riley had been hanging out with a feral cat colony when she was rescued. It’s natural for cats to find other cats in the street, but feral cats can be quite dangerous especially to cats that are used to being indoors.
Before you know it, contact was established and all that was left to do was confirm that the cat was actually Riley. They scanned Riley’s microchip and it did confirm that she was Anne’s cat. Anne would’ve loved to fly back to Tennessee in order to retrieve her cat right away, but roundtrip flights from Seattle to Tennessee are way too expensive. Fortunately for Anne, a gracious Clarksville resident volunteered to bring Riley all the way to Seattle for her. Anne and Riley are now reunited—a full year later and with 2,800 miles to overcome. Theirs was such a wonderful story of hope and goodness. It shows that there is still kindness in the world, and that a community coming together can do wonders. Riley is in excellent condition when Anne received her, and Anne is now complete again.