Homeless in Vancouver: What I thought when I saw the utility pole

“Boy, that’s a lot of missing cat posters”.

That was really my first thought when I saw the wooden utility pole in a Fairview alley ringed by a haphazard band of staples at head height.

A cold thought for such a warm August afternoon but it was the voice of experience.

Utility poles on main streets and thoroughfares may get plastered with bright upbeat posters, advertising everything from nightclubs to shoe sales. But in the back alleys the postering is largely restricted to letter-size notices with tear-off phone number tabs—some for moving trucks and “fixit” people  but most are concerned with lost cats.

Feeling bad for people missing their missing cats

The pineapple is probably also gone by now. Two too many losses for one household.
Stanley Q. Woodvine

A lot of apartment dwellers in Fairview have cats and judging by the steady stream of “missing” posters I see in Fairview’s back alleys, a number of those cats are always wandering and getting lost.

I can’t say how many go missing each year and unfortunately I can’t judge from the posters alone how many of those missing cats are getting found.

The original posters appear in the lanes and that’s generally it. There’s rarely a follow-up telling the world that “Charley-is-my-darling was found on such-and-such a date in a motel room with a certain Siamese and thank you for your concern—kittens looking for a good home.”

Nothing to give a spectator closure.

The original posters just linger on poles, sometimes for months. The inkjet colours seemingly mirroring the owners hopes of finding their dear pets: so strong and bright to begin with but steadily fading over time until only the memory remains.

It has long been my apprehension that only a small percentage of missing cats were recovered but the American SPCA did some research two years ago that fortunately appears to prove me wrong.

"The cat came back" is happily a common refrain

“Has collar. Loves butter! Very independent”. I know people who fit that description.
Stanley Q. Woodvine

In 2012 the the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) conducted a telephone survey of more than 1,000 pet-owning households across the United States to get a snapshot of how many pets were lost and found.

According to the ASPCA survey, 15 percent of respondents had lost a cat or dog in the last five years (a lower number than expected) and 85 percent said they recovered their lost pet (much higher than expected).

Forty-nine percent of lost dogs were found by searching the neighbourhood. But searching only found 30 percent of the missing cats.

Fifty-nine percent of missing cats returned home on their own.

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