And friends and strangers--they put up flyers, too. Total strangers put flyers up all over town. Total strangers drove to neighborhoods where people told them that they'd seen cats like her and shouted her name. More than once, total strangers caught and confined cats and called us to come over and look at them (the cutest time was when some college women renting a house near our old neighborhood called Matt on a Friday night. They had seen a cat that they just knew was Spots, caught her, and put her in, like, a gerbil cage on top of their kitchen table. They were SUPER sad when Matt told them that the cat wasn't Spots, but then one of them turned to the others and said, "Does this mean that we just abducted someone's cat?").
Friends contacted me all the time with good wishes and helpful advice. They called people they knew who worked in vets' offices and asked them to keep a lookout. They shared our flyers with all their friends on Facebook.
Yesterday, someone who'd seen our yard sign called to say that a cat like Spots had been hanging around his street for the past couple of weeks. Matt and I drove over there, like we always do, I got out of the car, like I always do, and I called her name, like I always do.
Before I'd even finished shouting her name one time, Spots burst out of the bushes to my right, just a few feet in front of me.
She didn't run to me, but ran across the street in front of me, and into another field, but when I called her name again she stopped, and although she still didn't come to me, she meowed when I spoke to her and let me creep over to her and pick her up.
I wasn't 100% sure that it WAS Spots, to be frank. It looked an awful lot like her, yes, but maybe her brown parts were too brown? And she didn't *really* act like she knew me, in the way that my Spots knew me and came running every time I called her. Her pupils were giant and she was wild-looking and didn't want me to hold her and carry her. Matt and I actually drove her to a vet to get her microchip scanned, but the vet didn't have a contract with this particular microchip company and so couldn't get a reading.
So we brought her home, and kept an eye on her as she roamed and explored and sniffed the other cats and then settled in for a nap, and as soon as I saw her on the sofa, curled up the way she has a billion times before, I thought, "That's probably Spots." And when she finally came over to me and let me pick her up, and she settled against my shoulder like a baby the way she also has a billion times before, I thought, "This is my Spots!"
She'd been missing for more than two months. We found her less than a mile from our house. There's not a scratch on her. She doesn't seem to have lost any weight. We're taking her to the vet for a check-up soon, but she seems... fine, actually. She seems great.
I am joyful. I am thrilled. I am really, really, really lucky. I am thankful to everyone who passed out flyers, shared info, kept a lookout, and sent hopeful thoughts my way.
And tonight, we are having a kitty party in Spots' honor! There will be canned cat food, and catnip mice, and Matt swears that he'll bring home a cake for the humans that reads "Welcome Home, Spots. You're Purrfect."
And if an adult will willingly give that message to a baker, then you KNOW how much we'd been missing her!