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May 15, 2015

"Only two per cent of lost cats (including indoor cats) ever make it home"

Photo 3

The headline up top — along with a picture of a cat — was also the boldface headline of an ad that appeared one day last week alongside a New York Times article (not about cats) on my computer.

It got my attention in a big way.

Is it true?

Just two per cent?

Who knows?

Although the number seems awfully low as I think about it.

Nevertheless, it wasn't the two per cent per se that got my complete and undivided attention: rather, it was the possibility that Gray Cat (above and below, pictured around noon today) could slip out an incompletely unclosed door unnoticed in less than a second while I was walking out to get the paper or the mail and then vanish forever.

That scared me.

As I continue to barely manage to do what needs doing each day in this, the second year of (as remarked upon here previously) my fourth episode of major depression (the others occurred in 1977, 1991, and 2001), my take on events both actual and possible has altered markedly from how I reacted when I was well.

Everything is difficult now and every possible negative event seems catastrophic as well as likely, just the opposite of how I would normally deal with and view both actual and hypothetical scenarios.

Photo 2

The result of reading that lost cat headline was that it immediately made me start to think quite obsessively about the fact that a couple years ago, after I'd declared Gray Cat an indoor cat for life after considering the pros and cons for several months (much influenced by feedback from the many cat people among those reading boj), I removed her collar with all its attached identifying information, figuring that since she was always indoors, it was an unnecessary encumbrance that added nothing to the quality of her life and probably annoyed her, though I must say that I couldn't detect any difference in her behavior or mood after I took it off.

A parenthetical note: After bringing her in full time, I couldn't detect any change in her mood or overall demeanor in the days, weeks, and months following the end of her life of freedom in the great world.

That's not to claim such changes didn't happen: all I'm saying is that I couldn't tell.

I didn't, for example, find her hiding under beds or in closets or in the almost invisible little nook above the refrigerator under a kitchen cabinet, or going on a hunger strike or the like in protest.

But I digress.

After about three days of considering that compelling figure of two per cent (!), giving the subject hours of thought, it became obvious to me — self-evident, in fact — that I needed to put Gray Cat's collar back on and keep it on forever, regardless of her indoor status.


I mean, it stands to reason that having my phone number and email address on her collar (yes, she has a chip, implanted shortly after I adopted her from the surrounding neighborhood in 2007 when she was, as I later learned, three years old) should improve the odds of my reuniting with her.

Yes, for those wondering: it is a breakaway collar whose functionality I tested when I bought it by buying a second one for stress testing by me as to the amount of force required for it to break should the collar snag on something, an event far more likely, it seemed to me then and still does now, to occur outside the house than indoors.

The only thing I didn't reckon with was how very unhappy — and willing to demonstrate her dismay — Gray Cat would be being pinned between my kneeling legs as I buckled the old collar in its previous configuration, using the same hole in the collar (sixth from the tip of the part with the holes) as I'd used before.

Even after practicing the act of fastening the collar several times before actually going ahead and putting it on, Gray Cat managed to pry one forepaw free and sink an unclipped, needle-sharp claw about an eighth of an inch deep into the distal pad of my right middle finger as I labored to complete my task.

That hurt.

And it bled like stink.

All fine now, though, and all is now well: her collar is back on since Wednesday of this week and and she hasn't evidenced any overt discomfort or unhappiness with it, and I'm significantly less anxious.

In the end, that's what this was all about, wasn't it?


Photo 4

a photo taken 15 minutes ago of (relatively) newly collared Gray Cat napping atop the treadmill motor housing, invitingly warm when the machine is set at 1.5 mph, my current preferred boj pace, down some from the 2.0 mph I operated at 10 years ago, in boj's early days.

And yes, I am quite aware of the dust accumulations on the treadmill and printer: they are representative of things in general around here, in my current incarnation.

You should see the inside of my microwave!

On second thought, maybe not.

When I'm in my usual state of good mental health, there's no dust to speak of and the microwave is spick-and-span.

Just about now, such things don't really matter at all to me; in fact, I don't even notice them consciously unless someone draws my attention to them.

Lucky for moi, Gray Cat doesn't seem to give a meow about the state of domestic affairs vis-à-vis housekeeping, as long as she gets her daily doses of love, full water and food bowls, and a clean litter box.

That last is something I pay close attention to, fer shur.

May 15, 2015 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


I think of you often and wonder how are you and GC. It is so refreshing to click on BOJ and read your heartfelt post. Keep up the good fight. Your fans are "breathing" you to wellness.

Posted by: Kay | May 31, 2015 9:45:05 PM

I waited a while before commenting because I was mentally bombarded with so much to say to you and,

it's nice to comment on old stuff because only the troopers of BOJ look back!

Joe, I love you and so badly wish a had a magic charm to take away your pain.

That said you must know one thing,

I wrote to you almost 2 years ago about considering taking a cat as a pet (had not had a pet for 50+ years).

You took the time and consideration to tell me something to the tune of,

"It will be one of the best thing you can do, you won't regret it."

Simply put,

Thank You, I love my cat, and I never named him (I call him at 2 years old, "Baby")!

However (he will adjust) I'm naming him Joe, not after me, but for you!

Posted by: Joe Peach | May 29, 2015 6:52:57 PM

I lost three of my 10 cats (over a span of many years) they were all chipped all collared and all (I thought well trained) Nothing I did, and it was extensive, brought them back. I bought a purrr-fect cat fence which I placed around areas outside but the two cats I have now have both managed to do the impossible... Walk on hedges! So.... Keep cats indoors.
The heartbreak caused much depression.

Posted by: Cheryl Rose | May 27, 2015 11:22:41 AM

I'm sending some big hugs to you and Grey Cat. XoXXoXooX

Posted by: Diana Adams | May 26, 2015 5:59:32 PM

She is a tortie, smart, talkative and cuddly. I used to be a dog person, Jula adopted me and now I am a convert.

Posted by: Tomasso | May 20, 2015 5:32:18 AM

Beautiful feline, Tomasso. Looks like a tortie, my absolute fave.

Posted by: Flautist | May 19, 2015 11:47:32 AM

Warm greetings from Jula: goo.gl/uSxqVK

Posted by: Tomasso | May 19, 2015 7:53:09 AM

Aww, Flautist!

I just watched it for 10 minutes in a Zen like state!

TY x infinity.

Posted by: Joe Peach | May 18, 2015 11:13:56 AM

That is one fine looking cat you have there. Glad you are looking after each other.

Posted by: Carol Feldman | May 18, 2015 8:57:05 AM

For anyone suffering - from depression, or anything - here is some free, live, kitten (& momcat) therapy:


Posted by: Flautist | May 18, 2015 4:35:19 AM

Just read your post out loud to my spouse. I'd missed the chip reference - though I was one of your cat people who urged chipping GC.

So, I'll just have to send something else along in early June. I found a snack you enjoyed once - but, the odds of hitting that lottery twice are minuscule.

A Moonstone perhaps?

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | May 18, 2015 2:51:18 AM

So good to read your post, Joe.
Gray Cat has the best possible existence in the best possible world, with you, and she looks way too smart to let that out of her sight.

Posted by: Ron | May 18, 2015 1:07:17 AM

I liked this post. Say hi to Gray Cat from me.

Posted by: Pippi | May 17, 2015 2:42:11 PM


Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | May 16, 2015 11:43:24 PM


Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | May 16, 2015 11:43:18 PM

It was 1974 in the extensive urban forest which is NE Portland. Cat #1 disappeared and was reported to have been carried off by some kids an hour earlier. After a month of fruitless inquiry and searching, Cat #2 took up residence and made himself at home.

Nearly a year later came a call from a woman ten blocks away. Some neighbor kids visiting her kids had identified the cat. Did I want to come get it?

And so it was that while Cat #2 was out catting about, Cat #1 came home and ensconced himself in the middle of the living room rug like it was only yesterday.

And by and by Cat #2 came home from his day’s travels, in the back screen door, up through the pantry, across the kitchen, down the front hall through the French doors to the living room, and—


—all motion stopped, as Cat #2 froze in position at the sight of Cat #1, every hair standing up on end.

And maintained that position, every hair still on end, for a full . . . . . five . . . . . minutes.

During which Cat #1 sat there regarding Cat #2 with perfect aplomb.

After some five minutes, Cat #2 unfroze and advanced a single paw, whereupon Cat #1 hissed. Cat #2 flinched, then hissed back. There ensued a hissing match of another minute or two, during which Cat #2 circled and gradually advanced on Cat #1, finally coming close enough for Cat #1 to lightly bat him, at which Cat #2 lay down a short distance from Cat #1 and flattened himself to the floor.

Cat #1 regarded this for a moment, then stood up and walked out of the room, taking no further notice of Cat #2.

That night and forever after they slept huddled together.

Posted by: Cat Came Back | May 16, 2015 11:18:09 PM

But I digress.

That did my heart and soul and whatever make me what I am some bit of good on a dreary Saturday.

Good to know that you still have that in you.

Posted by: Matt Penning | May 16, 2015 4:18:49 PM

I'm sending a chip kit. After Rusti - all future felines will have the official standard "universal" chip - and, I've just bought QR code tags for luggage and important gear - including cat collars. (My Cousin Larry, the large animal Vet, is sending these chip kits - 18 gauge needle, 5cc syringe, saline, the chip, and an on-line registry - sub cue between the clavicals - chip is the size of an anemic grain of Basmati Rice - wholesale ~ $5.00.)

I've been traveling and "She Who Must Be Obeyed" (With apologies to the late John Mortimer and his alter ego, Rumpole) has reached that unfortunate point in the life of the chronically ill that supplemental O2 is required both at night, entrained into her CPAP (12 CM H2O / 4 lpm), and in flight (a $6k wonder). In our cross-country trip to NYC by Jet Blue (my new favorite domestic carrier) her kidney machines required a brief saunter of 14' to the head, a quick void, hand wash, and back to the nicely-spaced seats (coach) where she had dropped from 98% Sat to 70% - her pulse oximetry told the tale and no further off-cannula trips were made!

I deeply feel for you, Joe, where my dear spouse has been suffering a similar depression - with full leave since December 4, 2014 - and I have observed one prior bout a tad over a decade ago. Mom, Max, and Sam are her constant companions and we would be lost without them. Rusti was a guy's cat - she took a hike one morning when a depressed migrator with diabetes was experiencing aura and opened the master bedroom patio & screen door. Here in South LA county it's Coyotes and Owls that prey on gatos. I searched and searched - nary a tuff of fur. I hope she decided to relocate - I adopted her as a semi-feral stray - but, any preditor who thought that cat was a good quick snack had another thing coming!

Mail around June 2-5. I suspect that you still have the skill set....

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | May 16, 2015 10:37:48 AM

We don't care about your dust, or the condition of your microwave, we care about you. And grey cat. Day by day, Joe, day by day.

Posted by: fellow depressive | May 16, 2015 9:27:40 AM

To lend some hope to this issue, when I was volunteering with a rescue group, a beautiful long haired cat showed up in my yard. He was very friendly and it didn't hurt that I was putting out food for him. I decided to bring him in when I found a collar around his neck. Luckily, it had his rabies tag on it. Another member of the group played detective until she found the cat's owner. He had been missing for two years and he finally got to go home again.

Another story with a happy ending - a friend's collarless cat got out of the house. My friend searched intently for three months until she found and brought home her kitty.

Posted by: Becs | May 16, 2015 8:00:54 AM

What Marianne and jo said, and all joeheads feel, I'm positive.

Oh, this eevill, diabolical depression. That part you said about everything being difficult and all possible negative things, catastrophic and likely? Yes, yes, yes. To love and be loved by a good cat is so therapeutic. Cuddles to GC, xo

Posted by: Flautist | May 15, 2015 9:19:09 PM

Grey cats not going anywhere Big Joe x

Posted by: jo | May 15, 2015 6:18:09 PM

Joe, good to hear from you in real time. A good ear scratching for Gray Cat.

Posted by: Marianne | May 15, 2015 2:32:31 PM

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