I considered not sharing this because there are so many critics out there waiting to jump on us for any slight but it's too good of a story not to share. My stories are always long and complicated, certainly, as that is my life in animal rescue.
Remus and Pan Pan were brothers that were abandoned over 3 years ago at a park that we have been doing TNR and rescue at for the past 5 years. They were about 4 months old at the time and two roommates from Sweden fostered them until they left Tokushima to return home. Remus and Pan Pan then moved to our volunteer house where they lived with our long-term volunteers. Remus was the outgoing one, Pan Pan the shy one. Both too smart for their own good and with one outside escape and capture, they got a taste for the great outdoors and learned to open doors and windows. Learned to check all the doors and windows to find one to open, and then because we were extra careful to make sure the windows were hatched closed, learned to pull the hatch to open the windows. At first, we always panicked when they got out but we'd leave the window open and they would return and all was well again.
When COVID began, our long-term volunteer pool dried up and Remus and Pan Pan spent a lot of time alone in the volunteer house besides daily visits to care for them. I would also go to stay with them overnight a couple of days a week but they were lonely. The outside was enticing and their escape artist activity intensified. And then we were blessed with a long-term volunteer from Germany during the pandemic that jumped through hoops to get here. All was well in Remus and Pan Pan's world again for 9 months and then they were alone with daily visits and a couple nights of human companionship again. You can guess what happened. The window was always left opened for their return. They did, but it was always just one of them and never both of them at the same time so the window had to be left open. And then there was only Remus returning and no sightings of Pan Pan for months and months. We set traps, searched the neighborhood, checked with police and animal control. Half a year later and I accepted that he was dead.
There was no way a shy cat with no experience living outdoors could survive.
Remus was a constant during that time and was usually inside inviting all the other stray cats in through the open window. Or if he wasn't inside, I'd call out to him and he'd do his loud meowing and come running. Then this past summer, Remus's fur started thinning and he'd lost some weight. I thought it may have been an allergic reaction to the new flea/tick preventive but a vet visit and echo showed a mass in his stomach. It was a tumor and he was sent home with meds. He wasn't feeling well and spent his time resting and sleeping and had no interest in finding a way outside. About ten days later, he made a prison break, stayed out overnight, returned home and then passed away. My human brain told me that he must have had one last fruitless look for his brother, Pan Pan, and then gave up on life.
Fast forward to today. Almost a year since Pan Pan disappeared. A client brings a rescue they want to keep as their own to a local vet clinic and the vet suggests to check for a microchip. He has one. It's Pan Pan. We are contacted. He's healthy and doing well.
I was in disbelief and once I got my bearings have to reconsider some things I thought to be true. One being that a cat raised strictly indoors can't survive on their own outside. For almost a year. Owners should never give up on a lost cat.
Other of my beliefs are reinforced. Microchipping is so so important. Not for just the animals but for the people. I am so, so relieved that he is alive and well. Ear-tipping should only be reserved for feral or street cats. I wonder if Pan Pan would have been rescued or checked if he had one.
And the story I I told myself when Remus went out that last time. Now I wonder if he was saying good-bye to his brother for the last time. Another made up human brain story.
We do not give animals they credit they deserve. They are not little humans. And I so respect that. They far surpass our resilience to life's difficulties. They don't live in the past. They don't dream about the future. They live in the now. We, humans, have a lot to learn. (and I'm soooo grateful for that microchip and call to let me know PanPan is ok after all this time❤️)