FALMOUTH — Cats are known for their curiosity, and it’s not unusual for them to go exploring.
But Lucy, a 2-year-old calico from South Carolina, got more than she bargained for when she jumped into a car headed for Falmouth.
Unfortunately, the driver, who comes to Maine each year to summer with her family, didn’t realize the cat had accidentally hitched a ride until several days after she arrived. When she finally went back to the car to fully unload, Lucy jumped out and hasn’t been seen since.
Now, with the help of Maine Lost Cat Recovery, Lucy’s owners, Michael and Meredith Welch, are hoping to get back their beloved pet.
Lisa Smith, a Falmouth resident and volunteer with the cat recovery group, has set out a trap, put up flyers and searched on her own for Lucy, who Michael Welch describes as “a real sweetheart” and generally very people-friendly.
Smith, who is also the executive director of the HART animal shelter in Cumberland, said residents who live near Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm could help by keeping an eye out for Lucy.
Anyone who spots the cat should call Smith at 838-8786.
“People shouldn’t try and grab her or approach because that might make things worse,” she said. “Even a friendly, outgoing cat can become cautious and reclusive (in a situation like this).”
But residents in the area where Lucy went missing should also take a flashlight and check in their garages and sheds, or under porches, to see if they can spot her, Smith said.
Michael Welch said Lucy “loves typical cat stuff” – laser pointers, toys and “the sound of a wet food can opening.”
Smith said it’s not unusual for a cat to take an accidental ride. “It happens quite regularly, especially if the vehicle doors are open,” she said – which is apparently what happened in this case.
Smith said the driver, who didn’t want to be identified, left Charleston, South Carolina, before the Fourth of July and it wasn’t until she got to Falmouth that she even realized a cat had gotten into her car.
“Lucy never made a peep,” during the entire ride, Smith said.
She called Lucy “a little peanut” and said her owners are “distraught” about losing her, with Welch even thinking he might drive to Maine to see if he could find her.
“I just really hope this has a happy ending,” Smith said.
In a phone interview, Welch said his wife, who is six months pregnant, is especially attached to Lucy, who the couple have had since she was a kitten.
They had no idea what happened to her and had tried to find her at home before finally learning that she’d hitched a ride to Falmouth, more than a thousand miles away.
Welch said Lucy has never done anything like this before.
“We let her out on a Saturday night, but when she didn’t come, even after we called her,” he said. “We started searching everywhere for her.”
“We posted on Facebook, asked all the neighbors and put up flyers, but we didn’t hear anything for more than a week,” he said. “We really miss her. My wife is beside herself; it’s just horrible.”
Welch added they are glad to know what happened, “but at the same time having her lost in Maine is awful. I just really hope we get our cat back.”
Welch also said he can’t say enough about Smith and everything she’s doing to help. “Thank God for her,” he said. “I don’t know what we’d do (otherwise).”
Smith said even with the traps, setting out food and outdoor game cameras, it could take some time before Lucy is spotted and coaxed to come inside. If Lucy is rescued, Maine Lost Cat Recovery and HART would take responsibility for transporting her safely back to South Carolina.
Lucy, originally from South Carolina, is now believed lost somewhere near Gilsland Farm in Falmouth.