Written by Anthony Walley
Professional photography by @Strike a Pose Photo / Video
Our beloved five-year-old Siberian cat, Jordan, was returned to us on the 23rd of December 2020 after 62 days of wandering.
Here’s the story as far as we know it. There are many details we just don’t know and will probably never know.
We last saw Jordan on the morning of the 20th of October 2020 when he came in for his breakfast. Later, my wife, Chantal, and I left for a week-long trip while our adult children remained at home. Much to everyone’s horror, Jordan went missing! In the past, he’s never missed more than two meals.
By the Friday of that week and after there being no sign of Jordan, we cut our trip short and returned home to help search for him.
Chantal and our dear friend Jeremy Danheisser put together a few hundred flyers and lots of laminated posters for us to hand out.
We started posting on Facebook to alert the neighbours about our missing cat. Jordan was already a mini-celebrity in our estate as he was always in the park with us when we walked our dogs. He’d walk with people and let them pet him.
Well, we could never have imagined the explosive and immediate response we received from our neighbourhood. Within a few hours, we had a task team set up on WhatsApp. People with friends in the surrounding estates passed on the message further. We eventually had 200+ participants on the WhatsApp group, all coordinating a house-to-house search for Jordan, including vacant properties. Among the searchers were small gangs of kids and neighbours out on their walks and jogs. The estate office sent out an alert on our community system (the first time this has been done for a missing pet) and even posted a “missing cat” sign at the gatehouses. People also arranged for me to have access to surrounding estates and vacant properties. There wasn’t another thing that could possibly be done. As a collective, we had it all covered.
Sadly, and despite this immense effort from hundreds of people, Jordan was still missing.
But, fuelled by constant encouragement from the WhatsApp group members, we updated our Facebook posts every few days. We also spent thousands of rands on animal communicators. But alas… still no Jordan. After almost two months, some friends could tell how depressed I was and tried to counsel me to give up and accept that Jordan was gone.
But the sharing of our Facebook posts by many kind and generous people was the key that helped bring Jordan home.
A cat fitting Jordan’s description was observed in Midstream Estate (20+ km away from home!) and Dianne Hildyard, who’d spotted him, posted the pic on their neighbourhood Facebook group.
Paul and Tammy Trelevan, who live in Midstream, spotted the cat photo and recognised the breed as they also have a Siberian. Paul remembered seeing lots of Facebook posts about a missing Siberian from Kyalami. So the Trelevans sent the photo to their Siberian breeder, Cherylee Powell from Artekatz. She believed she recognised Jordan and WhatsApped the picture to me, along with Paul’s phone number. (Believe it or not, Jordan came from Artekatz too, and that’s how Cherylee recognised him).
When I saw the photo, the whole world stopped turning. I called Paul, who was already on his way to the Midstream vet to have the cat checked out and scanned for his microchip.
The next five minutes waiting for confirmation was nail-biting stuff, but when Paul called with the message, “It’s your cat!”, I jumped up and down screaming. (At that moment I was waiting to board a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and I apologise for scaring everyone with my antics.) We luckily got the news before we had to switch our phones off.
Paul and Tammy then drove to my house and delivered Jordan to our son while they waited for us to travel home!
Quite how Jordan got to Midstream remains a puzzle. It’s a 25 or so kilometre journey by road with multiple highways to cross, so it’s unlikely that Jordan walked there. We had some deliveries the week he went missing, so one theory was that perhaps he jumped into a delivery vehicle and was carried to the next stop, possibly without being spotted by the driver. I followed up, and the only delivery we had that week was medicine by a well-known courier company. They were amazingly helpful when I called with my very strange request and gave me all the details of the driver’s trips that day, which proved that he he’d gone nowhere near Midstream.
There are other theories that Jordan was stolen for resale, but then escaped, which I guess are also plausible. We’ll probably never figure this out. But it’s not that significant since our boy is now safe at home.
The Midstream vet who scanned Jordan for his tracking chip told Paul that Jordan wasn’t in any immediate danger, so I let him sleep overnight after a couple of huge meals and then took him to Blue Hills – his regular vet. They weighed him (he’d lost about 17% of his body weight), did a bunch of blood and urine tests, physically examined him, and then declared him just fit enough to come home after having a couple of shots. Rest and plenty of huge meals were prescribed.
So, Jordan is on his way to recovery, either sleeping or eating at any given moment, and his entire family of human and animal siblings is overjoyed.
I ordered the smallest, lightest tracking device available from the USA and kept him indoors until we could equip him with the tracker. Jordan isn’t that happy about the situation but has tolerated the collar for over a month now. I gave him a bit of a talking-to when I fitted it, so perhaps he understands.
This has been a lesson for us, and I want to pass on some things I learned:
1) The world is mostly full of amazing, kind, generous and caring people such as Dianne, Paul, Tammy and Cherylee who’ll go out of their way and drop everything to help someone, and like all our Kyalami Estate neighbours who jumped in and helped and constantly encouraged us to keep looking for Jordan.
2) Don’t ever give up!
We owe our community a huge debt of gratitude, which we probably will never be able to repay.
Jordan has regained all the weight he lost during his ordeal. He currently weighs around 7kg, slightly above his usual weight. Since being fitted with a tracking collar, I can now find him almost anytime and know his favourite hiding places. Jordan has only been out to the park once that I know of in the almost three months since his return. It seems that he’s figured out that home is the safest place for him.
To all the people who lose their pets for whatever reason: Don’t ever give up, and keep on posting those Facebook updates.