Finding Jameson

15th Jun, 2022

Written by Clifford Hattingh and Dan James

Professional photography by elysian

Perhaps we should have left him at home that day, but the temptation of using Jameson’s new transparent-kitty-carrying-backpack was irresistible. He so thoroughly enjoyed the car ride to my partner’s aunt’s flat in Bantry Bay.

The instant we got there, he got so spooked by something that we sat him on a couch in the lounge, whilst still in his carrier backpack. During dinner, not thirty minutes after arriving, my partner went to check on him, and, before anyone could even take a moment to register what had happened, the feisty feline fiddled with the zips on the bag and sped out.

Our hearts both went stone cold and a congregation of nervousness clogged up my throat as I choked on the bitter reality of losing a kitty in the worst suburb to lose a cat.

Don’t give up

It’s true that it’s those who don’t give up are usually the ones who find their cats! We returned to the area where he’d gone missing every day, sometimes twice a day. We spent hours wandering the area, calling his name, shaking his food bowl and just remaining hopeful.

It was especially difficult the first week when nobody we spoke to had seen or noticed him, but eventually, eight days later, we found the first person who had seen him. One of the security guards at the President Hotel next door saw him run past the driveway late on the Saturday night. After that, we followed up leads and visited the spots where he’d been seen, which at least gave us peace of mind that he was still in the area... often with us having only just missed him!

My heart was shattered by the following Wednesday when I was so close that I could still see the wet paw prints on the concrete where he’d just run across! I pulled my teary eyesight away from the ground and felt even more determined to find the creature who left those dainty paw prints.

So many people were starting to give up hope, and were trying to “console” me with comments that someone else had forcibly adopted him or that the President Hotel were hiding some horrible accident from us, which was just unthinkable.

Unless I was given a body, I wouldn’t call a ceasefire. If there was still a chance he was out there, I’d take it against all other odds.

Commitment and persistence

Remembering the golden rule – it’s those who never give up who usually find their pets – nothing and nobody was going to make me stop searching for Jameson! I know I’m one of the lucky ones, with a happy ending, but I can also say that it didn’t just happen by itself. It came from our commitment and being persistent.

May the 7th came with miserable weather, amplifying my reluctance to go out – not to mention I’d already been there at the primordial hours of dawn. “He wouldn’t stop looking for you!” I thought.

On the annoyingly familiar route, I decided to try something new: I bought a Bluetooth speaker, a super-strong green laser pointer and three different types of catnip. If this doesn’t make me appealing to felines, nothing else will,” I thought, with my humour clearly still intact.

Covered in catnip, the speaker wailing with a high-pitched dog/cat whistle I found on the web, and clumsily jiggling the laser beneath bushes and up into the sky (just like a less-menacing Batman signal) against the clouds, the minutes lazily cascaded from one into the next, until an hour and a half later... no sign of The Jam (one of his many nicknames, by the way).

Seeing the same cold corners I’d been checking nightly, the oddly Déjà vu-like Bantry Bay breeze seemed to drop in temperature at an alarming rate, and I decided to go home.

Trying something different

Something tugged at my tear ducts and my stomach churned with anticipation... I could just feel that I hadn’t tried absolutely everything to find him. Having a mournful cigarette at the spot where he’d made his kitty-getaway two weeks previously, I proceeded to do the golden thread meditation that had been shared with me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUvrq5V9bL8).

There’s something very strange about trusting something as metaphysical as the connection we all share with animals. It takes some practice, but it becomes easier and easier to do. My first attempt at it had been that morning, but I was in a distracting environment then. Alone in the extensive gardens of the apartments without any distraction, I poured all of my energy into the meditation.

As I turned around after opening my eyes, Jammie was about five metres from me; we both got a fright and he dashed into the bushes again. I didn’t want to chase him, because that would scare him even more, but calling him and playing the cat whistle again didn’t help. Nor did food or catnip!

But, I knew he was right there, within metres of me.

I immediately called his other Dad to come and help search. About 45 minutes later, after searching high and low, I went to sit down and thought I might as well try the meditation again. I visualised him on my lap and me giving him a few scratches to say thank you for showing himself.

Kitty connection

I opened my eyes. There, tip-toeing towards me, as real as the bitterly cold breeze, a raggedy, purring tuft of ginger fur waltzes up the path, pausing in fear... His tail seemed to unfreeze first, tracing a furry question mark through the air. I froze dead still... it’s at this point I calmly just called his name, and when he started moving towards me, I slowly proceeded to take out the bag of dried catnip from my coat pocket and shook it, to which he slowly crept closer, moving faster and faster as he drew nearer to me, with me constantly reassuring him that it’s okay and to come get some of the catnip.

After letting him sniff my hand and roll around a few times and feel comfortable, it dawned on him that he was safe, and the loudest purr I’ve ever heard from him started with vibrations within. “GOTCHA!” I exclaimed, gently grabbing him as if he were actually a tuft of fur about to blow away in the breeze.

I carried him indoors and sat in a closed bedroom with him for a few minutes to calm him, reassure him and safely place him into his carrier box.

Never underestimate your own connection with your cat, and the emotional bond with them, because the catnip, laser and cat-whistle audio track definitely got his attention, as I was a walking cat magnet; but it was grounding myself and focusing on the connection between us that brought him out of the bushes and toward me – twice!

Throughout the process I also had help from two different cat-whisperers, both of whom helped give me the hope and reassurance I needed. People can believe whatever they want to, even those who don’t believe in more than they can see and consider it nothing more than a placebo effect, but it worked for me, and it helped keep me motivated at times when I was struggling to stay positive... and I wouldn’t have little Jameson home without them and their help.

I want to thank everyone on the groups and on social media that have been so supportive and helpful! And to those still looking for their pets, unless presented with a body, don’t lose hope and DON’T GIVE UP!

Today, Jam is happily back home and purrs like a diesel engine every time he sees either of us.

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