One Tuesday, when the cats were grown, Mema had to go out. Sawdust was in the house and Mema thought that Sneakers was also. However, at some time, he must have slipped into the garage unbeknownst to Mema. She, naturally, raised the garage door and drove away. She came home sometime later. She felt a certain strangeness in the house and immediately went searching for the cats.
“Hi, Sawdust. Where’s your brother? Where is he hiding?” Mema asked. She proceeded to look in the usual places Sneakers would be, but to no avail. She began to panic and just had a bad feeling. She could sense that he was not there. After a complete search, she knew he was gone. Pepaw was away on a trip, but she called him, trembling and afraid to tell him the bad news.
“Sneakers isn’t in the house anywhere. He must have gotten out! What do I do?” Mema wailed distraughtly.
“Try putting out some food and water in a bowl and leave it outside. When he gets hungry, he’ll come eat,” Pepaw suggested.
Mema tried this, day after day, but the food remained in the bowl. Pepaw arrived home that Friday from his trip. As he pulled up to the house, Mema went outside to greet him.
“Look! There he is!” Pepaw said. Sure enough, Sneakers was sitting next to their little outbuilding in the backyard.
“Hey, Sneak. Come here, buddy,” Pepaw coaxed him, but Sneakers turned and ran into the woods. They were so shocked! They immediately went searching the woods for him, but were unable to find him once again. Eventually, it got dark and they reluctantly had to give up for the night.
“At least we know he’s still alive,” Pepaw said. They had worried that Sneakers could have gotten run over by a car.
Mema made flyers about Sneakers and posted them all up and down the road. They told all their neighbors to be on the lookout for him. Mema took her flyers to all of the local vets in case someone found him and took him there. They checked with all of the local animal shelters also. They even put his photo and information on lassiecomehome.com which is a website for lost and found pets. They did everything they could think to do.
When none of these measures had results, they borrowed animal traps from Animal Control to try to trap Sneakers. They put food inside and placed them in various places hoping he would take the bait. No luck, although they caught the same white cat twice. Mema went to check the trap one day and in the dusky morning light, she thought it was Sneakers inside! Her heart soared, but as she got closer, she realized it wasn’t Sneakers at all, but a large possum staring back at her. She wisely waited for Pepaw to come home later to let it free.
Their neighbor, Bud, called one day to say that a black and white cat had been hanging around his barn. Bud had a house, barn and a large tract of land just a few houses away from theirs. Mema and Pepaw tramped down there looking, but found nothing. They later left a trap which did result in the capture of a large black and white cat. However, it wasn’t Sneakers, but another similar looking cat. They called Animal Control. A man came and took the cat away. It had no tags so they didn’t know if it belonged to anyone or not.
Weeks had passed, too many weeks. With each passing day, it became more likely that Sneakers could not survive alone outside without any means of finding food. He had absolutely no skills like a cat who had grown up outside would have. Plus, he wasn’t too smart. He didn’t even go for the food in the traps. Hope was waning that they would ever see Sneakers again.
Meanwhile, Sawdust was now the only cat in the house and she seemed to know that. She became a little more affectionate and sat on their laps more often.
Another day, Bud called again to say their cat was near his house. They raced over and searched around not seeing any sign of Sneakers. Pepaw took a flashlight and shined it in a drainage pipe that was open on both ends.
“I think I see him!” Pepaw exclaimed. “I see two eyes shining in the light.” He got down and looked inside. “It is him! I found him.”
They were so glad, but Sneakers showed no hints that he was going to budge from his hiding place. He was too far from either end for them to reach him.
“We’ll have to go back to the house to get something long to flush him out,” Pepaw said to Mema.
“Wait,” Mema said. “We should cover the ends of the pipe so he can’t escape.” But they didn’t have anything handy, so they went back to the house. They decided to call Animal Control to come help rescue Sneakers. By the time they got back to the pipe, they could no longer tell if Sneakers was inside. The man from Animal Control arrived and tried a few things that would have flushed out anything inside the pipe. No Sneakers. They realized he must have left the pipe while they were away. He was lost again. Mema and Pepaw went home very upset that they were not able to retrieve Sneakers. He was so close, and yet, so far. He had been outside for about four weeks by this time.