My apartment has a nice little corral/balcony sort of deal that I'll one day put a fancy set of porch furniture in so pals and I can drink beers and stare at the houses across the street. For now, it just holds a few things that I brought from NY that have no place in my current apartment. And a plant that I always forget to water (which is why I don't have kids). I was just out there for a minute, when I heard an enthusiastic meow. I jumped a little, because the cats that live in my building are not this vocal. There are two that come from across the way, Charlie and Tango. And then there is a fatter black one that hangs around, though I don't know who he belongs to.
When I turned to see which cat it was, I was greeted by a larger adult long-haired gray and white cat with the cutest little face. I said to the cat "Woah. Who are you? Where do you come from?" He responded with a meow. This cat was unlike other wandering cats I usually see. He was super-friendly, had soft hair that was dirty on the white part (though it didn't seem like he was used to being dirty), and he really wanted my attention. Any time I turned away from him or stopped petting him, he put his little paw gently on my leg and mewed. I wished at this moment that I could speak cat, because I'm pretty sure this cat belongs to somebody, but he was wearing no collar and he wasn't telling me what I needed to know in English.
Then, in a little crevice in the floor of my corral, I saw a little black something sticking out. I retrieved it from the crevice, and saw that it was a collar and ID tag. Oh glorious day, I thought. Let's save this cat. I checked out the collar information. It said "Mingus" and had two phone numbers and an address I was unfamiliar with. Now, I'll admit...because I hate the phone so much and because interactions with strangers make me uncomfortable, I hesitated for a minute about calling these people. I thought, "Oh, they must live nearby, I'm sure he'll wander back." I said to the cat "Are you Mingus?" He did not answer. I looked up the address on my phone, and saw that it was in the Barton Springs area. aka pretty far from where I live in cat-wandering terms. So I called the number.
As the phone rang, I thought about all the different ways I could lead into this. As the phone rang multiple times, I thought about how serious I was about leaving a message. But this cat -- it kept looking at me with it's cute lil eyes and it's sad little mews, so I soldiered on. A lady picked up on the fourth ring.
Me: Hi...umm...Is this Sydney* or Jamie*?
Me: Um...do you have a cat...named Mingus?
L: Yes! I do!
Me: Um...is it a gray and white cat?
L: Uh...what do you-- no he's more like black and white.
Me: Hmm...Well, I just found this collar in front of my apartment, and it was next to this gray and white cat...he wasn't wearing it, so I thought I'd give the number a call. He's a longhair cat with a white bottom and a gray top.
L: Hmm...no that's not him. Where are you?
Me: I'm in Hyde Park. I saw that the address on the collar seems pretty far from here, so I didn't know...
L: Yeah, I just moved to Hyde Park from the Barton Springs area. I lost him after I moved. He's been missing for a little while so I'd pretty much given up, but when you called I got so excited. (break my heart)
Me: Ooh...I'm so sorry I got your hopes up.
So I asked her more about Mingus and told her I'd keep an eye out for him. She actually lives like 5 blocks from here, so she said she would come to my area and do another search for him. I honestly don't know how long that collar had been there. It looked roughed up. I have not seen a black cat with green eyes and white whiskers/paws at all (Mingus), but I did notice that this mystery Longhair cat seemed fond of the collar. He would grab it in his mouth when I put it on the ground. I worried that Mingus lost his collar somewhere else, and this transient had lifted it (like the cat version of finding treasures that he'll pawn later) and brought it to my corral.
Now I have two problems. Because I have Mingus' collar, I feel personally responsible for finding him, since nobody will be able to call the number if they do find him. I also have this awesome gray and white cat that I want to bring into my house and bathe and spoon and then get into wacky scenarios with. But also, I want to find his home, because I have a feeling he's lost too. Will anyone win here?!?
*names changed for no good reason, really...