But it's not all for nuttin'! I think it's the ubiquitous presence of this song in my head, along with all you kind souls who downloaded it and listened to it, that gave us this lead!
Doesn't Cat #BFC1696
look an awful lot like my little, lost Theo?
Yah, I thought so too, down to his tiny ascot of a patch of white fur on his chest.
So I emailed the Tylertown, MS peeps last week. Ain't heard a word, of course. I'm sure they're busy doing whatever it is they're doing up there. Busy feeding, cleaning, watering, and attending medically to the animals. Busy not checking their email.
So I phoned them yesterday and heard, "Due to the high volume of calls, it may take a very long time for someone at our organization to respond to the message you're about to leave."
So I Mapquested Tylertown. It's near McComb, MS, about two hours from New Orleans. What the hey, I thought, that cat's worth a half a tank of gas and four hours of rural driving. The lead is promising. My pal's name is Foot Foot, dammit.
Ben and I drove up there this afternoon to look at Mr. BFC1696. Though the photo gave us hope, Russian Blues can all look the same. We'd know him if we saw him and interacted, so HELLO, Mississippi! It's good to be back! Are you ready to räwk!
To "save time", I took the most direct route, as the bird flies. However, birds don't have to deal with one lane "highways" through places like Franklinton, LA and Lexie, MS, where the roads often squish down to one lane for both directions of traffic resulting in 20 minute delays nor fleets of schoolbuses wielding their right-of-way at a busy intersection for fifteen minutes.
Once we finally arrived at St. Francis Sanctuary, a rotund security fellow let us in.
"Where you live, bo-ah?"
"New Orleans." [and please please please don't tell me I have a real purty mouf.]
"Had ta rag ya 'boutcher hair. Don't pay me no mind, though. I'm just a redneck coonass dago."
"Well! THAT certainly sounds like a full-time job!"
"Ayup! Mississippi. Born n' raised! Lived in Baton Rouge for a while. But they all just called me a redneck coonass dago, so I came home."
"Wow. That's " [hypocritical? unfortunate? not-surprising? a damn shay-um? I never finished the thought, neither in my head nor aloud.]
We were met by Shelley, one of those animal-lovin'-people whose element was admirably represented at St. Francis'. A beaming smile and a handshake. "You're here for BFC1696?"
I vowed then that if we found him, I'd rename him. "Heeeeere, Bee-Eff-See-One-Six-Nine-Six! WHO'S a cute little Bee-Eff-See-One-Six-Nine-Six, huh? YEW are! Yes YEW are! Yessssss "
"I think we're keeping him in San Antonio," said Shelley, referring, I assumed, to the naming convention of the multitudinous barns where so many hundreds of displaced Katrina animals are being sheltered.
"Pretty far," I quipped, wittily.
We made it to the main office lost-pet hq but couldn't enter because on the front steps of the log cabin was a woman smiling and weeping holding a dog and posing for photos. Somewhere, a cowbell rang."
"Reunion," said Shelley, beaming.
I thought, oh good, they do those things here. Reunions. Bodes well. Heeeeer, Bee-Eff-See-One-Six-Nine-Six!
We slid past the weeping woman and her found doglet and into the office. Shelley opened one of many binders and flipped to the page of the kitty in question. There was a Polaroid stapled to the page a different picture than the one above, and this photo showed a ghost of a hint of stripes in his tail. Another distinguishing mark. Good sign. Good sign.
Next to us at another computer, a woman screamed and began crying. The volunteer announced, "She found FOUR of her cats! FOUR! Oh honey, let me get you some Kleenex. Where's that reunion cowbell?"
Back to our issue, Shelley perused her paperwork and said, "Says here he was picked up on the 2300 block of Bibolin St. in St. Bernard Parish. That near your house?"
"Uhh, no," I said, comandeering a laptop and mapquesting Bibolin St.
"There doesn't seem to be such a street," I said after mapquesting several possible misspells of same.
"Yah, well, the cat catchers are a little scattered sometimes."
Who wouldn't be, sifting through murky rubbish in the Lower 9th or Lakeview, lasooing up as many feral dogs, cats and bunnies as their van could hold. Also, the catchers were likely not from New Orleans, so how the hell would they know what Parish or Ward they were in? I (foolishly optimistically?) pooh-pooh'ed this slight gap in our lead.
"I remember him," said Shelley of Theo er, of BFC1696. "God, is he a charmer! Real sophisticated."
Best news yet. I was hoping someone at the Not-Oh-Kay Coral would have known him personally, but come on, with so many, many animals, was that a realistic hope?
Shelley: "This one really stuck out in my mind. Hey McKenzie! Remember this little fella?"
McKenzie: "Oh, yah. He's gone, right?"
Shelley: "Yah, looks like he was sent to San Antonio."
Me: "SAN ANTONIO?! So, what, do I need to drive there now?"
Shelley: "No, we can have him shipped back. Oh, looks like he was sent yesterday."
Me: [to Ben] "God DAMMIT!" [thinking to myself] "If only someone had read my email, they wouldn't have sent him." It's not kind to think angry thoughts about a such a group of do-good-deed-doers, however.
Shelley and I exchanged contact info, and she told us that Theo er, BFC1696 would be back from Texas next weekend, as if he had just gadded off to a quick business meeting or something.
We drove the two hours home. I called geekwitch and sang to her, "My pal's name is Foot Foot. He always likes to roam. My pal's name is Foot Foot. We never find him home."
So! Missions accomplished! Somewhat. Feeling really good about this being our lost cat.
Dreading the drive back to Mississippi next week.