‘Unadoptable’ cat becomes adoptable after disappearing and becoming trapped in a basement garage

Mark's 'cat shed'
Mark’s ‘cat shed’. Photo: Mark.
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Mark D Swartz is retired and cares for feral cats. At the moment he is the guardian for 6 indoor, and about 7 outdoor cats. He works with a local rescue group who help with spaying and neutering.

Mark calls it a ‘mystical experience’. He called one of his cats “Tawny’ because of her coat. She is actually a slightly dilute torbie – a mix of tabby and tortoiseshell. A beauty. Tawny was born outside Mark’s house in 2011. He had her spayed and vaccinated.

Tawny a dilute torbie cat
Photo: Mark Swartz.

With 5 other kittens he took Tawny to his local rescue group for adoption. All but Tawny were adopted because she was deemed to be ‘unadoptable’.


So, Tawny settled in to a mainly outdoor life at Mark’s home. On 30th November 2013, soon after Tawny developed an upper respiratory infection, she disappeared.

A month went by and there was no sign of Tawny. Mark:

“…assumed that she either died or moved on to another area. I e-mailed my county animal shelter, they did not have her and I was heartbroken realizing that I would never see her again….’

Finding Her

It’s clear that Mark really wanted to see her again. He missed her. Then in early December the next door neighbours moved out of their home due to foreclosure. The house was cleared of possessions. Then he heard a cat’s meows…

“Weeks later in January 2014, when I was outside feeding my cats on the 41st day [after her disappearance], I saw and heard a small cat meowing to me in the window of the next door house’s basement garage — the cat was meowing as if saying “please let me out.” The real estate agent let me go into the house but when I did so I could not find this cat. I soon determined that it was hiding behind an electrical closet of a basement room and would not come out.

I quickly put food and water outside that closet and found that this frightened cat would eat the food but afterwards go back into the closet and hide….”

Mark acquired a trap and eventually succeeded in trapping the cat. Mark did not recognise her because she was so thin. I wonder how long she had been trapped in the basement. It could have been an entire month or more. He compared her to some photos he had of her and realised it was her. A year had passed since she had disappeared.

Happy Ending

Torbie Tawny has fully recovered. In what seems like an acceptance of her new human companion who rescued her she has become very much adoptable. She spends 85% of the time inside the home with Mark.

“What’s really strange and miraculous is that sometimes when you’ve given up all hope something unexpected unfolds that grants your wish. What I learned from Tawny is that there’s no such thing as an unadoptable pet.” – Mark Swartz.

4 thoughts on “‘Unadoptable’ cat becomes adoptable after disappearing and becoming trapped in a basement garage”

  1. This is so touching! I’m helping to manage a few feral cat colonies and so many of them are tameable and adoptable. They want affection and love, before food!
    So happy for this love story.


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