Missing cats baffle neighborhood

LITCHFIELD — Posters? Check. Laminator? Check. Special neon paper to really grab the eye? Check and check.

In the long search to find her missing cat, Linda Desrosier is sparing no time or expense. She's hung more than a hundred posters all over Sabattus, Wales, Monmouth and Litchfield.

She contacted the Maine Warden Service, consulted a missing pet database and hired a professional pet tracker. Her cat, Tessa, even has a microchip embedded under its fur, although that fancy technology hasn't helped much.

If it was just Tessa, it might be just another sad story about a runaway cat. But in Linda's Oak Hill Road neighborhood, no fewer than a half dozen cats have gone missing since July and it's beginning to make people nervous.

"We just don't know what's going on," Linda said.

Tessa, a year-old female, vanished on July 8 and Linda has been scouring her corner of the world since. It was during that search that the weird mystery of the missing cats began to emerge.

One neighbor recently lost her 16-year-old cat. A woman across the street reported that several of her pets were gone and a man who lives nearby is searching for his cat, too.

Now there is a small army of people searching for the lost pets, but as of Wednesday afternoon, they remained among the missing.

"It's been an amazing journey, I'll tell you," Linda said. "I've met people I never would have met otherwise."

It's a lot of work, hanging all those posters and knocking on all those doors. There have been leads that didn't pan out, which only adds to the heartbreak.

"You don't realize how hard it is until you go through it," Linda said. "It's not just the work but the emotion behind it, too."

On the advice of a lost cat website, she purchased some special neon paper on which to create her posters. Other posters are just plain paper, but she went out and bought a laminator to protect them from the rain.

On Wednesday, Linda was awaiting the arrival of Lisa Nazarenko, the increasingly popular pet tracker who specializes in finding lost animals.

Meanwhile, Linda was losing hope that she would find Tessa alive. She wants to know one way or the other what happened to her, though, because not knowing is the hardest part.

Suspects? Oh, yes.

At least one neighbor reported seeing a fox in the area around the time that cats began to disappear. Another claims to have seen a mountain lion, which Linda quickly reported to the Warden Service.

"They didn't even want to take my name," she said. "Nobody wants to acknowledge that there are mountain lions in Maine."

There is no proof that a wild animal took all those cats, though, so the mystery continues. Tessa — and all the others — was just there one day and gone the next.

"It's like she vanished," Linda said, "into thin air."

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Noel Foss's picture

Cats vanishing in the night is not new...

When I was younger, there was a rash of disappearing cats on the hill. Then one of the neighbors ran a trapline through the winter. He bagged many members of the weasel family, as well as nearly a dozen coyotes that winter. The next summer nobody lost any cats, but we all had rabbits in our gardens due to the subsequent population explosion.
A few years later, after more predators had moved in to fill the gap, we stopped having problems with rabbits, and the cats started disappearing again.


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