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Where’s Bandit? A Missing Cat and the Lessons Learned

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About six weeks ago – August 15th to be exact – my cat Bandit went missing. I began searching for him immediately. Knocking on neighbor’s doors, putting up flyers with his picture, calling and showing up at the local animal shelters, placing an ad on Craigslist, and walking the streets calling his name day and night.

Bandit, a feral cat whom I had adopted about three years ago, was an inside-outside cat, and enjoyed his freedom immensely, but always returned to the safety and comfort of his loving home. So, I was no stranger to him staying out for a few days at time. This means that early on I had hope that he would walk – I mean strut, because Bandit was cool and charismatic – through the little doggie door, give me that “hello meow,” approach me for a quick pet and purr, then be off to eat and take his nap. Yet, as days turned into weeks, my heart sank and I even tweeted my concerns and grief – “Where’s Bandit?” I was consoled by a few of “my tweeples,” Facebook friends, and a Blogcritics writer as far away as Israel took the time to provide some newfound hope. Thanks so much Ruvy, but Bandit is still missing. 


I have always been an animal lover and I am no stranger to losing pets, but as an adult it has always been due to death, not going missing. It started with my two purebred, papered, German Rottweilers (Rotts) [1996 Marilyn (L) and Brigitte (R)] who both died of Lymphoma cancer. This evil disease hit Marilyn at age three and she died in my arms (naturally) on a hot summer day in 1999. In the meantime, Brigitte was diagnosed when she was eight and in an eager attempt to prolong and hopefully save her from this dreaded disease, I went ahead with chemotherapy that my vet told me about, which only kept her around a few months longer than her sister who did not have chemo. In a short time, Brigitte went from a strong, robust, and blissful 130-pound energetic dog to a fragile 90-pound weak one – unable to eat or even walk. Still intact to the bitter end were her unwavering loyalty, the love expressed in her eyes, and her attempts to wag her tail. One of the most heart-wrenching times for any animal lover is when we make that decision – to “put down” our pets. Unwilling to see her suffer anymore, Brigitte’s time had come and on another sad summer day (2004 this time), I said, “Good-bye” to my other best friend

I blame the pathetic breeders and their inbreeding practices for the cancer that took the lives of my Rotts, and since then I refuse to get purebred dogs. Not to mention that we are overpopulated with domestic animals and there are so many pets that need to be rescued. In fact, every time I visit a pet rescue center or the government-run animal shelter, I always leave in tears – from anger when visiting the latter, especially the one here on the Central Coast where I live.

In between the tragic suffering and subsequent deaths of my Rotts, I adopted Jessie, a Chihuahua-Corgi mix [R] and Whiskers a Terrier-Dachshund (Wiener Dog) mix [L].  From their”issues,” it was obvious they had been abused and/or neglected by someone out there. Both are long, painful stories and sadly Jessie and Whiskers are no longer alive. 

After the heartbreaking loss surrounding Whiskers in 2007, I decided take a break from dogs. My sister found two feral cats that were brothers (around seven months old) being kept by a girl who needed to find them a home. We were both immediately smitten and my sister adopted the white one and named him Zeus, while I took in the grey and my daughter named him Bandit. My sister and I scheduled “play dates” for Bandit and Zeus and, amazingly, they would frolic around with such affection every time – proof of the bonds of brotherhood. Later I sought out a friend for Bandit when I rescued Tinkerbelle (a Calico cat) from that hellhole government-run animal shelter in my area. Tink, as I call her, is so wild she won’t let anyone come near her, yet after a year she finally started seeking my physical affection, though only on her terms.

Since having two cats, I realized that I am more of a dog person, so off I went to find my new best friend – Shorty, a Chihuahua-Terrier mix, this time from a local animal rescue center called Woods Humane Society – a pristine place, with a loving staff, where the cats have a special place to run free and the dogs are treated with the utmost care and dignity. As with most rescued animals, Shorty has his issues, anxiety and a few others, but it’s nothing unmanageable. What is funny about my trio of pets was that Bandit preferred my dog Shorty to my cat Tink, and watching them play together was so refreshing – something I miss very much.

[Photo from left to right: Bandit, Shorty, and Tinkerbelle]

I still look for Bandit, yet with a heavy heart, feeling like I failed him somehow.  You see, I’m a “till death do us part” (warts and all) pet owner and Bandit was part of my family. What upsets me is that there are people out there who abandon their cats and other pets with no feeling whatsoever and I don’t understand that type of apathetic mentality. But I’ll move on because animal neglect and cruelty, which unfortunately rages on in our country and around the world, gets my blood boiling.

What I will expand on is that this experience has hindered my desire to engage in activities that I enjoyed before Bandit went missing. Including not completing two series that I had started here on Blogcritics in fitness and politics, which cast a shadow over my sense of follow-through. Hopefully, I will re-surface soon because I’m sure my liberal friends here on Blogcritics miss me. Furthermore, and on a more serious note, it brought up dark thoughts of how distressing and overwhelming it is for those dealing with missing children – another topic entirely, yet to me, as a mother of two terrific daughters, it is by far one of the most horrific things that could happen to any parent. Unfathomable – and just thinking about it sends a chill down my spine.

Even though these past weeks have been filled with sorrow, lessons have emerged, including the usual ones that come out of losses: be kind to those around you and savor every moment with those you love, including pets, because you never know, you may never see them again.  Also, to me, the death of a pet is easier to handle than wondering and worrying, which I do every day. Is Bandit dead or alive? Is he suffering? Is he hungry or thirsty? Does he feel abandoned? Is he lost? Is he trying to find his way home?

Will I ever get over my missing Bandit? Eventually, however, those thoughts will only occur incrementally.  Yet, no matter how much time goes by, I’ll always wonder, “Where’s Bandit?” Unless of course, I find him! 

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About Christine Lakatos

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    sorry to read things aren’t going well.

  • Christine

    Oh now they are when I hear from my buddy El!

  • Redbud

    You let your cat roam freely outdoors……what did you expect to happen to him? You are just a bad as those who abandon their pets. How many wild creatures died as a result of your free roaming cat? Poetic justice.

  • Christine

    Red: Sorry you feel that way. Bandit was a wild cat before I got him and I didn’t want to lock him up in the house with no fresh air. He had a porch with the doggie door and would come and go. I didn’t force him outside. And it was in a condo complex where he hung with about 10 other cats. I guess the owners of his cat buddies are “evil” too. Thanks for the nice words.

  • Redbud

    Yes, anyone that allows their pets to run free is evil too. I am glad that you admit it. And please do not get another cat. Thanks.

  • Christine

    Red: From my research I can see there are two opinions on letting your cat outdoors. No one is advocating all pets to run free. In fact, my ex-neighbor had a rabbit that got out and it would come visit us and I would always take the rabbit home. And my dog has a secure small patio where he gets his fresh air; plus three walks a day and goes with me almost everywhere I go.

    I won’t get more cats because I refuse to keep them locked up in the house and can see it is high risk to let them outdoors.

    PS: If I am evil for letting my cat outside, then I can think a few words for you, but I will keep them to myself.

  • indiangirl1220

    Red:It’s obvious you don’t know anything about Feral cats. I admire Christine for even taking on one of these beautiful wild animals. Most people that lock up there cats are people that stay at home and people that pay money for a pedigree.I grew up with cats, and we never locked them up. It’s inhumane……….people that don’t spay, neuter or abuse their animals are “evil” not Christine. Have you ever adopted a feral cat???

  • Clavos

    My current cat is now indoors, but only because I live in an apartment complex that prohibits unleashd animals outdoors. I have owned cats for over 30 years and have always allowed them to roam; unlike dogs, they disturb no one and have never aroused my neighbors’ ire. As for their rodent/bird/lizard hunting: that’s just nature at work — no worse than big cats in Africa and Asia hunting their prey.

  • Redbud

    Cats are not nature. Cats are just one more human cause of wildlife mortality (introduced predator). I find all of your comments very callus towards anything but the cats! I have lots and lots of experience with feral and free roaming cats and they have no place outdoors. I have eliminated several colonies by trapping and removing the cats as well as the artificial food source. If you insist on letting your cats out then install cat fencing or enclose them somehow. Anything else is just EVIL.

  • Evil Clavos

    Blah, blah, blah. Poor, poor rodents! Lovely, innocent birdies.

    Go trap some lions and “relocate” them.

    Meh.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “Evil Clavos”? isn’t that redundant?

  • Clavos

    Excellent point, EB, it is indeed…

  • Christine

    Meow!

  • Evil Christine

    Oh I forgot my new title.

  • Redbud

    Typical cat fanatics……nothing else matters but their kitties. Poor misguided souls.

  • Christine

    Red: I love ALL animals! That is why sometimes I am personally at odds with nature, especially when it comes to the food chain; like when Tigers eat deer or any other animal. It it barbaric and heartbreaking, but should we lock up all the Tigers?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful Was Already Evil To Begin With

    Red (@ #15), isn’t that true of any fanatics?

    It’s not irresponsible to let your cat roam outdoors. It allows him to be truer to his nature and makes for a generally happier moggie.

    And it’s not as though (with rare exceptions) you can stick Felix on a leash and let him express himself by taking him for walkies.

    Cat owners know that there is a risk that they will never see their pet again every time they let him out. It’s the same with your kid, actually.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Clavos @ #8: I have owned cats for over 30 years

    Mate, we’ve been over this before. It’s the other way round. You should know this by now. Pay attention.

  • Clavos

    Hmm. Yer right, Doc, I fergot…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Christine, don’t worry, your cat will come home.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Clavos,

    Did you see my last two comments for you? I was hoping that you would have some input about Education Nation, being a teacher and all.

  • Christine

    Oh my, do my liberal friends finally agree with me? Amazing. Thanks for the thought Jeannie. I still have a little hope.

  • zingzing

    i love cats. i’ve never heard of cat fencing, and frankly, the very idea is absurd. once you give a cat an inch, they’ll take a mile. they’re independent, free creatures. fencing them in is abuse, i say. (of course, if you never let them know the outside world is there, that’s a different story. ignorance is kitty bliss.)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    About cats… :D yes, I agree with my favorite, Republican!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    My cat is bitching at me right now, I’ll be back after I attend to the ten inches tall dictator!

    :( I really hope your little friend returns.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Jeannie, Clavos sells boats. Zedd is the one who’s a teacher. (I think.) And Heloise.

  • John Wilson

    Bandit may simply have decided to room with someone else. I’ve had two cats that disappeared and were found months later at someone elses home, perfectly at ease.

  • Christine

    Thank John. Wow, but I’m such a great “roommate,” why would he abandon me? I’m sad.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Doc,

    Clavos also teaches underprivileged children to read in his spare-time. Since he told me this in the threads, I think he wont mind if a little praise flows his way, God knows, he, deserves it… :D

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    @ #28: It’s true, Christine, cats do that. I had one who rarely even went outside; on one of the few occasions she did, she went missing. We hunted high and low for her – not a sight, sound or sniff of her.

    Then, about a week later, she appeared at the back door meowing to be let in as if nothing had happened.

  • Christine

    Dr. D: Yeah, hear a lot of stories like that. They are such dang independent creatures aren’t they.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Christine,

    Sorry to hear about your kitty. Like John Wilson, my male cat, Quixote, was found months after his disappearance having relocated to another household with a child, pretty nearby.

    The family had discovered him after a feline fight and taken him to the vet. They said they loved him and their daughter adored him. I said, oh well, they had cared for him and loved him and he seemed to be happy, so they could keep him. As a weird afterthought, the next day, they got mad that I let him out at all and gave me a vet bill. They decided then that they didn’t want him anymore and gave him back.

    Quixote didn’t seem to want to live at home and wanted to roam, so I gave him to my little sister whom he seemed fond of. He was happy for awhile, but within months he moved out and adopted a family down the street with a child–again.

    Have you looked closely throughout your neighborhood? Just a thought.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    I mean, of course you have looked throughout the neighborhood, but perhaps not with the cat arranged adoption idea in mind.

  • Christine

    Cindy, wow, what a story. But I will take your advice and look in the neighborhood some more. Thanks for your encouragement. I knew I could count on my friends at BC!

  • STM and the axis of evil

    I don’t know how to admit to BC readers that I have a chihuahua, so I’ll get it over with. I do.

    His name’s … bandit. He’s a feisty little fella, all black with brown feet, and unlike many of his ilk, very good natured. He’s also a great guard dog because he doesn’t miss a single out of place sound.

    I also have a proper dog: Josie, an English border terrier, who has teeth the size of an alsatian and is, well, REALLY feisty, but only with big dogs, most of whom tend to run away from her. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog (a metaphor for my country, too, maybe, with the Commonwealth Games starting in Delhi??).

    The two dogs have managed to keep the possums out our place, although it’s a never-ending task and a forlorn hope.

    Molly, my himalayan cat, is supposed to be an indoor number … but we let her loose. She sometimes brings us rodent gifts, including the odd dead parrot.

    The dogs escaped recently because my daughter and her girlfriends left the front door open when they got home from school, nd the two dogs crossed what can be quite a busy road and went down the street and up a side street … and, bizarrely, straight to the home of a woman who had recently lost her own two dogs to old age.

    She checked the tags, rang my wife, gave them a treat and used a couple of spare leads she had to take ‘em for a walk.

    She told us the dogs just turned into her driveway and walked around the backyard to the backdoor and sat there until she took them in.

    Maybe, Cindy, the cat has found a “second” house (they often do that), and has decided to prop there for a while before coming home.

    Clav: Do you believe in genetic imprinting?

    When I say “hola” to the chihuahua, he pricks up his ears and trots over. I’ve wondered, because he knew how to sit up and beg and look cute without being shown (he’s only a year old).

  • STM and the axis of evil

    Can everyone tell that this grumpy old surfer is now rather taken with the chihuahua, after protesting his coming to us originally???

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Like John Wilson, my male cat, Quixote, was found months after his disappearance having relocated to another household

    I didn’t know John had disappeared and was found months later having relocated to another household. I guess that’s what happens when we let Blogcritics commenters wander off without proper supervision.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I also have a proper dog: Josie, an English border terrier, who has teeth the size of an alsatian

    And hasn’t eaten the chihuahua yet?

    She sometimes brings us rodent gifts, including the odd dead parrot.

    Norwegian blue?

  • zingzing

    stm: “I have a chihuahua”

    i am bending over. i can see my own butthole. suddenly my head is sucked inside said butthole. i see my inner organs, from intestine to stomach to esophagus. seeing light again, i bend over once more. the eye that is now barely protruding from the turned out bit that used to be my sphincter (having been sucked through my body with me), sees the widening hole that used to be said sphincter. i travel again through my own body. all this time, my legs and arms are sinking into my torso, which is being rapidly consumed by negative space from within. bones crack, skin breaks, blood vessels burst, muscles contract for a final time before they are consumed by the trunk of my body. i continue to circle through my own digestive tract. as i circle, i become smaller, until, with one last blink of my sphincter-eye, i am nothing.

  • zingzing

    stm: “Molly, my himalayan cat”

    i have a himalayan as well! lucy’s her name. she’s a runt. 6 pounds, fully grown, on a good day. she’s so dumb. or at least easily amused. i swear she knows a few words of english. she can turn me into a pile of gibbering mush in two seconds.

  • STM and the axis of evil

    Actually, zing, the little fella’s a bloody great little dog. I didn’t like them much but I think I’ve got a good one. He’s supposed to be my daughter’s dog but, of course, he’s bonded with me.

    A few weeks back, my wife and I took the two dogs for a walk. We passed a house where two guys from an outlaw motorcycle gang live.

    I had the chihuahua. My wife was about 30 yards in front. As we passed the biker boys sitting out having a beer on their verandah, my missus turned around and yelled out to me: “Hey mate, how long have you had the chihuahua?”

    Ho ho.

    Zing, Himalaya cats look big amd fluffy. ‘Til you clip ‘em to get the knots out of their fur.

    And yes, Doc, I did notice the parrot clabger … but I’d already posted. Alas, too late.

  • STM and the axis of evil

    Lol. “Clabger”. Make that “clanger”.

  • STM and the axis of evil

    And zing, you can’t take the piss out of me for having a chihuahua and have me disappearing up my own blurter … and then admit that you, a single bloke(?), own a big fluffy fu.king cat named Lucy.

    Fair fu.king dinkum.

    I suppose the one good thing about owning a cat and not living in NYC is that the cat can do its business outside.

    How’s that litter tray zing???

  • STM and the axis of evil

    And Christine, I hope the little fella returns soon. Cheers.

  • zingzing

    actually, stm, i disappeared up my own ass at the revelation, not you. take it literally. not too literally. i do, however, often see my own ass (in the parlance of your parlance, you see, to wit). it’s a position i put myself in far too often. *patting my own backside*

    and the litterbox which doesn’t exist is fine, because, unfortunately, lucy (named after lucille ball, the greatest comedianne of all time, although i wanted ethel… she looks like an ethel,) is at my parents’ house. i just visit her highness now and again. even if she is 500 miles away, she’s still mine. or i, hers. whatever.

    and “single” only in the sense that i can’t bundle my taxes with the lady. i am, however, beginning to wonder about common law marriage. beyond that, i’m beginning to wonder about saying “marriage” anywhere near the lady, even if only on a tax form. *shudder* dangerous times we live in.

  • STM and the axis of evil

    Lol. Well, whatever, zing, your blurter or mine, it was pretty funny anyhow. Hugely descriptive. I don’t know what your calling is, but I suspect you’re missing it.

    And can I give you a tip mate? Don’t marry for the taxman. I strongly advise against this :)

    You get taxed both ways.

    That’s a true story about the biker guys BTW. One of them’s taken a shine to the chihuahua too.

  • Christine

    STM: thanks for the input and your stories. Chihuahuas are terrific dogs. And your Chihuahua is named Bandit? Interesting coincidence. I love my Shorty.

    Zing, thanks for stopping by too.

    Kind of therapeutic listening to you all here on BC. Much appreciated.

  • Ruvy

    Christine,

    Thank you for the shout out. I’ll tell you a tale of Flash, our living room lion.

    This morning, around 06:00, we heard this loud insistent meow. Our 16 year old feline master was making his presence known – and frankly, both the bride and I were too tired to be bothered. So he meowed and meowed and I fell asleep to the meowing.

    Around an hour and a half later, my oldest son came into our room…. “Flash is missing. I can’t find him!” We both told him that the doors had been closed all night and our clawless giant of a cat didn’t have enough enterprise in him to try to get out.

    Apparently, that had not stopped either of our sons from looking for him outside the house – neither of them realizing that if he were indeed inside, he could sneak out with the door open.

    Annoyed, I got up and started to look around the house (not the neatest of places) and realized that there was only one place he could be – under a bed. There are three beds in our humble dwelling, and two of them are too crowded underneath (with plastic holders for clothing, etc.) for our 20 lb. kitty to fit under. So, I pulled out a very high beam miniature flashlight and handed it to one of the boys, and said, “look under our bed – that’s where you’ll find him.” And sure enough that is where Flash was.

    My wife has been making schnitzel for the holiday – simHát torá – when us guys here will have a date, dancing with the Torah scrolls in the village. While my wife has been preparing the schnitzel, Flash has been munching on chicken from last week, saved specifically to shut him up.

    And now, he is back under our bed. What he finds there is beyond me. I am a mere human.

  • Ruvy

    BTW, Bandit, who may well have been adopted by a child nearby, looks a lot like my wife’s favorite (pre-Flash) cat, Rascal. I hope Bandit is safe and being loved and cared for.

  • Christine

    Nice to hear from you Ruvy and you and your wife really helped me early on when Bandit first went missing. And another cat story! Love it.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    37 LMAO Dr.D. :-)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    45 zing…who would have guessed you loved lucy? :-) she was a fav of mine too. so many wonderful female characters modeled on lucy* too. i predict you read janet evanovich and like stephanie plum, no? if you don’t, you should. stephanie is a character in the lucy tradition.

    *(as a matter of fact, a fiction book i have been working on is based on a lucy-like character)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    (named after lucille ball, the greatest comedianne of all time, although i wanted ethel

    So, zing, you admit to having a crush on Ethel? Each to his own, I suppose. I’m sure Fred would be glad for you to take her off his hands.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    “Clabger”.

    Sounds like the leader of a surfer gang in Maroubra.

  • zingzing

    stm: “I don’t know what your calling is, but I suspect you’re missing it.”

    i write about mostly disgusting things. sometimes i write about things that aren’t disgusting.

    “And can I give you a tip mate? Don’t marry for the taxman. I strongly advise against this :)”

    i won’t.

    doc: “So, zing, you admit to having a crush on Ethel?”

    no, but i think she got the short end of the stick sometimes. although her character did allow her to have the best zingers.

    cindy: “i predict you read janet evanovich and like stephanie plum, no?”

    never heard of. will look into.

  • trap4free

    Here where I live it is against the law to allow your cat to roam free and to leave food out to intentionally feed feral or any free-roaming stray cats. Cats have no part in the ecosystem and the wildlife has a very important part in the ecosystem which keeps your local ecosystem healthy and balanced in order for it to sustain life. Your little man-made domestic house cat is an introduced (by you)invasive exotic species that kills on instinct regardless of how much kitty food you feed your cat. House cats kill to kill and the more they kill the more skilled they are at killing wildlife that belongs in the ecosystem. You subject your cat to possibly being run over and killed by a car, being poisoned, being attacked and killed by a wild raccoon and diseases. Have you ever felt how boiling hot water in a water hose can get from baking in the sun? Spraying an annoying little stray cat that enjoys eating birds at the bird feeder with a good hard blast of that boiling hot water will keep him away from that feeder for a few hours. I own very lovely, healthy and strictly indoors house cats. I spend too much money on their vaccinations to just throw them away and let them roam outdoors. You should have at least that much love for your children. I have to wonder if you really can afford to feed your cat since you put him out the door to go kill wildlife for food. Not only are you EVIL you’re also extremely ignorant about nature, wildlife and how domestic cats were originally created. Domestic cats are not wildlife. Big wild cats know when to stop killing for food and they are a very important part of the ecosystem to which they naturally belong to. Your ignorance got your cat and a lot of wildlife killed needlessly and the truly sad part is that you learned nothing from this. If you would keep even a previously free roaming cat indoors and take time to play with your cat as any responsible cat owner should do then your cat would have all of the exercise he needs and he would still be with you. BTW! If your cat was ever! feral he would shred your arm off for trying to touch him.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Your little man-made domestic house cat is an introduced (by you) invasive exotic species

    So is homo sapiens: compared to whom the environmental impact of the free-range domestic cat is minuscule.

  • http://concernedcitizen09.blogspot.com/ Christine

    Yeah, trap4free is rambling. Sounds like a cat hater. How did you get anything of that dribble, Dr. D?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Christine, I strongly suspect that “trap4free” is one and the same as our charming friend “Redbud” from further up the thread…

  • http://concernedcitizen09.blogspot.com/ Christine

    Dr. D. Oh, my bad.