A Reader’s Forum story by cat rescuer Sheri Dickson. Afterword by Elisa.
“𝐙𝐈𝐏𝐏𝐄𝐑” 𝐇𝐀𝐒 𝐁𝐄𝐄𝐍 𝐅𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐃 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝟖 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 !!!! 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐭—𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐞𝐢𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐭—𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐈’𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐜𝐮𝐞. 𝐈 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐦𝐲 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬:
Last August, a Turkish family in Clemson contacted me about rehoming their two cats Pofuduk and Zipper. They were overwhelmed by a stressful move back to their home country and an uncertain job/living situation there.
I posted the cats on Nextdoor, Craigslist, etc. I was leery of CL but impressed by a woman named Lisa in Campobello, SC who responded. Lisa seemed so sweet and assured me she could give the cats a safe, indoor-only home. She talked about being a cancer survivor and her failed marriage. It all tugged at my heart.
I did not charge a re-homing fee or make her sign a contract, nor did I check things out enough because I was in NC preoccupied with helping my mom whose house had been damaged by a bad storm. In my haste to get the cats re-homed, I made the HUGE MISTAKE of trusting Lisa. Lisa took the cats promising to send the family pics and updates, but she soon tried to cut off contact.
At one point, she claimed she was not in touch due to planning her mother’s funeral. I was suspicious and called her mother’s landline—Lisa’s “deceased” mother answered!! Later one of Lisa’s daughters taunted us claiming she herself had the cats but wasn’t going to send pics. I then realized these people were pathological liars, and both cats were missing.
In September, Pofuduk was found hiding in a drainage ditch, but Zipper was missing another seven months. I was guilt-ridden and imagined all kinds of horrible things like her being hit by a car or attacked by a coyote. There are also wild boars out there that have been known to maim horses.
I sent out fliers and put ads all over Facebook lost pets sites. I offered an $800 reward. I would sometimes get texts from scam artists claiming to have Zipper, but most people were helpful (ex: sent pics of strays that resembled her), and a local cat rescuer put up posters at major intersections.
One night a couple weeks ago, I got a message from a woman who is active on the lost pets Facebook pages. She said she had figured out where Zipper was. I nearly fainted. An acquaintance of hers and a couple other families who live close to where Zipper disappeared had been feeding the cat for months. They considered Zipper one of the ferals around there and did not contact me. It was baffling because Zipper’s distinct white stripe down the spine was shown on all my posters. Zipper acted kind of wild but was caught a week later.
Zipper’s Turkish name is Zipir. It means “looney” or “crazy.” She’s a little wacky, but also a wonderful, friendly lap cat now that she again has the security of home. With the Turkish family’s blessings, I have decided to adopt her. This has been a hard lesson learned for me about trusting people. I was duped by a liar with a sob story. Many rescuers know the awful feeling of an adoption gone wrong. But this is also a lesson about not giving up hope on a lost pet.
Elisa: I’ve followed Zipper’s lost cat story since late 2019. I asked Sheri for her permission to share Zipper being found and to turn it into a Reader’s Forum article because a lot of people looking to re-home a cat make the same mistake Sheri made. Be extremely careful when finding a new home for a cat. Not only can a cat become lost, many scum involved in dog fighting scour the ads for bait animals.