A tribute to

Baby Boy
aka Shadow

Ed Collins

Last update:
12-2-2012  16:03


This tribute page is way for me to, hopefully, come to terms with my grief.  This has been just about the worst week of my life.

My wonderful cat didn't come home Sunday night. This was five nights ago. I haven't seen him since.

A little more than six months ago, on May 21, 2012, my neighbor Sonya found a stray cat at a local dry cleaners very near our homes. She found it along with the dry cleaner's owner, when they opened up the store bright and early that Monday morning. The cat was found inside the store. Apparently at some point the prior Saturday afternoon, when the store was last open, the cat had wandered inside the store, unnoticed by the owner.

Sonya immediately took him to a local vet. The cat did not have a micro-chip.

From what I understand, the vet did what they do to all strays... gave him some shots, neutered him, checked him for any injuries, etc.  Sonya had him micro-chipped at that time. She took him back home, and did what she could to start looking for the owner.

Sonya named him "Boot."

As it turned out, Sonya's cat, Ya-Ya, did not get along with Boot at all. In fact, she had to keep both cats separated in different rooms. Because of this she asked me if I would like to keep Boot.

Once I saw him and started interacting with him, and discovered how sweet he was, it wasn't a hard decision to make - I said yes. He's very, very sweet - he has a very nice disposition about him. In fact, to jump ahead for a moment, in all the time I had him, he never growled at me or hissed at me or scratched me at all, not even during the times I've picked him up when he clearly didn't want to be picked up. Not even when we were "wrestling" - he was rather gentle when he "attacked" me - he seemed to know we were just playing.

I quickly re-named him Baby Boy, after the name of a cat my friend Yolanda had many years ago. (I didn't care for the name Boot... sorry Sonya.)


Baby Boy is a domestic shorthair male.  He's a "tuxedo" cat. 
He is mostly black, with white paws and a white belly.  
I think he's very handsome!


Immediately, before I became attached to Baby Boy, something I knew would probably happen soon, I made an effort to look for Baby Boy's owner myself. Baby Boy obviously belonged to someone... he looked well fed, and although he was timid, he clearly wasn't a wild stray.

For several weeks I regularly checked the lost and found section on Craig'sList.  I also rode my bicycle all over the neighborhood, looking for LOST CAT flyers. I asked as many people in the condos where I lived if they new who the cat belonged to.

No luck at all. Nothing.

Soon after that, I suppose he officially became my cat... at least for now. And yes, I quickly fell in love with him. Again, he's a very sweet and lovable cat.  At the time he was about a year old, from what I was told.

The first few days I had him he preferred to sit and hide behind my bookshelf most of the time. Understandable...he didn't know me and the past three or four days had been rough on him, with all that had happened to him.  (Locked up in a store for two nights, a trip to the vet, living in Sonya's home, my home, etc.

However, it didn't take long - just a few days as I recall - before he overcame his fear and really opened up to me. In fact, he soon started following me around everywhere I went. I've never had a cat do that before.
  • He followed me out to laundry rooms, each and every time I needed to wash my clothes.
  • He followed me out to the dumpsters, each time I tossed out my trash.
  • He followed me each time I went out to my garage.
  • He followed me each time I went into the bathroom. In fact, each morning as I was shaving and brushing my teeth, he liked to hop up on the bathroom counter and watch what I was doing, and play with the water and the shaving cream in the bathroom sink.
  • When I took a shower each morning, he would wait in the bathroom outside the shower door for me.
  • He liked to hop on top of my refrigerator, and watch me when I washed dishes.
  • He would often lay down on my desk, right in front of me, while I used my computer.


More than once I nearly tripped over him, since he was right there at my feet all the time.

Because he would follow me around wherever I went, I got the idea that we could go for an actual walk together.  And we did.  Most evenings, after I came home from work, we would go for walks, throughout the complex where I live.  I truly believe he loved going for walks with me. You could just see it in the way he was walking, with the "spring" he had in his step. He would walk with me, and stay with me, the entire time. Oh, sometimes he would linger behind me for a moment or two, chasing after a bug or something. But I could never get too far ahead of him before he would run up and catch up to me.

He really liked being around me.  He really did.

Because of this, and because he is mostly black in color, about a week after I had him I renamed him "Shadow." He was definitely my little Shadow.  I think that was the perfect name for him.

However, I soon realized I renamed him Shadow a little "too late." I still thought of him and referred to him as "Baby Boy!"

To most of my neighbors I introduced him as Shadow, but to me he will always be Baby Boy. (Funny though... I rarely ever called him Baby Boy. I usually just called him "Baby" or "Sweetie.")

During our walks together he would always do something that he never did at any other time. He would give me a little "cat hug." That's what I would describe it as, anyway. Just once, at some point during the walk, he would very gently, just for a second, wrap both his front paws around one of my legs. It was about as close to a hug from a cat as you can get. I like to think that was his way of saying thank you for taking him for a walk.  I wish I had a video of him doing that to show you.

He would often claw my furniture, as cats do, and it didn't bother me at all. It really didn't. I figured, "it's just furniture" and when you own a cat, you should expect that. I was happy, however, to see him start clawing on a scratching post that was part of a "cat condo" structure that my mom later bought for him. (He loved that thing. He was inside the little condo house before I even put the thing together!)

He would often jump up on the kitchen counter, especially when I was eating or doing other work there. I know some cat owners prefer not to have their cats jumping on their kitchen counters, but that never bothered me.  He could jump on whatever he wanted.

He would snuggle with me each night, in my bed, and during this time he would often purr and purr and purr. He never ever purred at any other time - only in the evenings and only in my bed.  He would often sleep on my arm or against my side. Sometimes it was hard for me to fall asleep... I didn't want to move around too much, or else I would disturb him.

Although it took some initial patience and time, eventually he really liked it when I took a cat brush and brushed him. He would especially like it when I brushed his neck. It got to the point that when he saw me pick up the brush he would jump up on a nearby table. That's where I brushed him most of the time, and I'm sure that his act of jumping on the table was his way of saying "Yes, please brush me!"


For whatever reason, he did not like drinking water from a bowl. Instead, he liked drinking water straight from the faucet!

I tried large bowls and small bowls and glass bowls and plastic bowls. I tried different colored bowls. But no matter what type of a bowl I used, he just didn't want to drink from any of them! Instead, when he wanted a drink he would jump into my bathtub and start meowing. That was his way of telling me to turn he was thirsty and to turn this thing on!


In fact, he would use his paws and scoop out and empty the water of any water bowl he found.  I still don't know why... was he just playing or did he feel it necessary for some reason.  Sonya bought a little electric water fountain for him, that when turned on, constantly pumped water out from a small spout.  He drank from the running water from that devices when I first showed it to him, and I thought everything was going to be fine.  However, the very next day he scooped all of the water out of that bowl too.  (And when there is no water running through the device the small pump will break down, so I just couldn't use it.)


I kept Baby Boy inside my home during the day, when I was working, and after midnight. But in the late afternoon / early evening, when I came home from work, I let him outside and for four or five hours he was free to come and go as he pleased.

He loved being outside. He loved chasing bugs and birds... he often climbed trees, he often walked on my roof...  I think it is safe to say he was an "outside cat" before I got him.

And he always came back home, each and every night. He was usually never gone for more than an hour at a time.  Often, he'd check back in with me every 30 minutes or so.   He also always came to me when I called him.  He would come to me as soon as he saw me, during the times when I went out looking for him.

He was very friendly, but a little timid among strangers. He eventually got to know some of my neighbors and would go up to many of them when he saw them, looking for attention.  He was friendly with at least one neighbor's cat, and he seemed to want to play with another neighbor's poodle, even though the poodle wanted nothing to do with Baby Boy.

I really think he loved me, as much as a cat can. I know he trusted me and I believe he felt safe with me in my home.

Early one Sunday morning I saw him on my neighbor's two-story roof! I still have no idea how he got up there!  There is no visible access to the roof at all.  Soon after he was up there he didn't know how to get down. He meowed and meowed for over an hour. A few of my neighbors and I also had no idea how to get him down.

After an hour, my suggestion worked - just leave him alone. He likes people... if we ignore him, maybe he will come down on his own. Sure enough, just minutes after we all left him, he finally got up the nerve to jump from the rook to a nearby tree. (Which wasn't all the nearby... he's obviously a good jumper.)

Another evening, quite late, I went looking for him, just because I hadn't seen him in awhile. It took awhile but I finally found him... across the street, in the parking lot of a small Ford Dealership! When I found him there I picked him up, carried him home, and "grounded him" for what turned out to be ten days. (For three of those days I was working in Las Vegas and I wasn't home anyway.)  When I saw him across that busy street, I got scared for him. I knew if he kept doing that he was eventually going to be hit by a car or a truck for sure.


But during that week I kept him inside, he was miserable and because of that, I was miserable. He would meow and meow and meow at my back door, wanting to be let outside. He would stop for awhile but then eventually start meowing all over again.

He learned how to open my back patio door by first hopping up on a nearby table, leaning over, and pushing the door handle! That helps to indicate just how much he wanted to go outside.

Baby Boy about to lean over and
open the back patio door!


This meowing and complaining went on for several days, with little or no let up. My hopes and my plans of turning him into just an "inside kitty" from an "inside-outside kitty" obviously wasn't working.

So I reluctantly starting letting him outside again. A good friend of mine agreed with me. It is better to have a happy cat, maybe for just awhile, then an unhappy cat forever.   That's who Baby Boy was.  He was an outdoor cat.

Of course, I'm now regretting that decision.


This is where the story turns sour.  Sunday evening, November 25, 2012, at about 11:45 pm, he wanted to go outside and I let him. I wish I had never done that. But he hadn't been outside much at all that evening and I wanted to give him a chance for just a little bit more "outside time." Also, lately he hadn't been gone for very long at all, each time I let him out. I didn't think he would be out for long this time either.

What I did was I let my guard down. Six months earlier I never would have let him out at such at late hour. What was I thinking? But after more than six consecutive months... 180+ days... of him returning home safely to me each and every night, I obviously became relaxed.

After letting him out that night I never saw him again.

I still cry each time I think about it. I'm crying as I write these words now. He was my baby. He was my Baby Boy and I miss him terribly. My home just isn't the same without him here.

At least I was able to say goodbye to him. I knew each time I let him out there was a chance I might not ever see him again, whether it's because he might get hit by a car, or because he might get snatched up by a coyote, or get lost, etc. So, as I always did when I opened my back door to let him out, I said a simple goodbye. (Something like, "Bye Sweetie... be safe.")


When he wants to be let in, he knows to meow at my back patio door. And when he does that I can hear him, no matter where I am in my home. And when I woke up early Monday morning, I quickly realized, to my horror, that I never let him back in the night before.

I hope I didn't sleep through his meows, but I don't think I did. My bed is right there by the back patio door, and when he meows, I can hear it. But I do wish I hadn't gone to sleep until after he was inside.

I quickly got dressed and went looking for him. I looked in all of the usual spots where he likes to hang out. I looked everywhere. I looked across the street at Ford Dealership.  I looked down the street. I walked through the entire complex at least twice.  I looked and looked and called his name for more than an hour. I looked until I just couldn't look any longer - I had to leave for work. (I now wish I called in sick that day. I'm rarely ever sick. Each and every year I never ever use all of my sick time.  And right now I was sick to my stomach.)


But at this point I still wasn't worried! I've often gone looking for him, just wondering where he was, and I haven't been able to find him. And quite often, sometimes just minutes later, he suddenly shows up!

I truly believed he was just around nearby somewhere, having fun and enjoying the fresh air and doing the things cats like to do.

Just before I left for work, I did take the time to move his food dish outside, by the back door where he could find it. I figured he would come home eventually and be hungry. I'll see him again this evening, when I get home, I thought.

And as soon as I got home, as you might imagine, I immediately checked his food dish... and my heart sank and my stomach began to knot up... he hadn't touched any of the food. And that's when I thought I had probably already lost him for good. I've had him more than six full months and in all that time he's never been away for 16 consecutive hours. Not once. He's rarely gone for more two hours at a time before he comes back and checks up on me.  And lately it's been closer to 30 minutes.

And that Monday afternoon after I got home it had now been 16 hours and no Baby Boy.  16 hours.  Something happened to him.

I looked for him the rest of the afternoon and all night long. I looked for him on my bicycle and then later I looked for him on foot. In all, I believe I walked and rode for several miles. I walked so much feet and legs hurt. My voice started getting hoarse from calling his name so much.

About 10:00 pm that evening I went back home and fell asleep, exhausted. I woke up four hours later, at 2:00 am. And just the thought of him wandering around in some neighborhood or some parking lot or some alley, lost and hungry and thirsty and unable to find his way home, was enough for me to again put on a warm coat and hop on my bicycle and ride all over the neighborhood again, up to a half mile or so in all four directions, looking for him, calling his name.

I couldn't find him. I couldn't find him at all.  He disappeared without a trace.

All this week I've been doing everything I can to find him.

  • I’ve double-checked the company that handles his micro-chip has my current contact information. (They do.)
  • I’ve gone to the Orange County Animal Shelter, twice in the past five days, looking at all of the stray cats that are turned in. (In theory, I shouldn't have to go at all... they supposedly check for micro-chips immediately, for each animal brought in and they will contact me if he is there. Still, I think I will feel better if I check myself.)
  • I check the animal shelter's website several times each day, looking at all of the photos of the cats they've picked up.
  • I’ve alerted all of my neighbors that he is lost - I put a "lost cat" flyer in the mailbox of all 80 units of the condo here where I live.  I'm offering a $500 reward for his safe return.
  • I've put flyers up in all four community laundry rooms here at the complex where I live.
  • I’ve now put up flyers on dozens and dozens and dozens of telephone poles all over my area.  I've reposted flyers on the same poles when my original flyer has come down.
  • I posted an ad on Craig'sList in their Lost & Found section. (Every four or five days I plan on refreshing that ad, so it stays near the top of the list.)
  • I've given my "lost cat" flyer to nearly every local business nearby. Many of these businesses, bless their heart, have posted the flyer in their storefront window.
  • I paid the $39.99 fee for to have a PetAmberAlert put out on him. Now, all of the local vets have been contacted, and been given a flyer, with his photo and description.
  • I’ve called the company in Placentia who pick up dead cats that are found on the streets. Unfortunately, they just don't seem to have a very good system of logging a cat's description of the cats they pick up, nor do they post this information online, nor have they responded to the subsequent e-mails I've sent them.
  • I've talked to dozens of people and given them a flyer, asking them to call me if they see him.
  • I'm following up on all leads, no matter how small.

(What I would like to do is a mass postcard mailer, which includes a photo, mailed to every house in a mile or so radius, letting everyone know that he is missing. I've looked into it... it's just too expensive.  (Thanks anyway for your help, Mike.)

And, finally, each night I set my alarm clock for 2:00 am, and at that time I get up out of my warm bet, put on some warm clothes, and ride my bicycle all over the neighborhood, for two hours, until 4:00 am, looking for him, and calling for him.


2:00 am is the perfect time to look for a lost cat.

#1  It is very quiet at 2:00 am. No one is around and there is little to no traffic at all on the streets.  My voice carries a LOT further at 2:00 am, when there is not any other traffic noise around to drown it out, than it does at, say 6:00 pm.

#2  I can ride my bicycle in the middle of the street and I don’t have to worry about or other cars.  I can ignore stop signs and I don't have to wait for street lights to change.

#3  Baby Boy comes to me when I call him and when he sees me. I think he has a better chance of seeing me / hearing me when I'm the only other person around - and at 2:00 am, I am.

UPDATE:  Saturday and Sunday morning at dawn is just as good of a time to look for a cat, if not better, than 2:00 am.  At that time it's also very quiet and deserted, and yet it's light out so I can see him, if he is around.


But all my work so far has been in vain. He's still missing and I'm still all torn up about it. I haven't been sleeping or eating much at all. It just kills me that I don't know what happened to him. That's the worst part. Not knowing.  Not having any closure.  If I found out he was dead, I could accept that and move on. If I knew he had a new home, I could accept that and move on. But it's this not knowing all that drives me to tears each time I think about it.  It's the chance that he might be roaming around in some neighborhood somewhere, lost and hungry and scared.

I think it's beginning to look more and more like he was eaten by a coyote. (That is a common occurrence where I live.)
  • No one I've talked to has seen him, at all. No one.  I've had no positive hits at all from any of the more than hundred flyers I've distributed.  (I've have had a few false alarms.  There is another cat who lives at this complex who looks very similar to Baby Boy, with one big exception... that cat has a little white dot on his nose.  Baby Boy has no such dot.  It turns out these few people who have called me have seen this other cat, not Baby Boy.)
  • I don't think he wandered off and got lost. I think the chances of that are less than that of him getting snatched by a coyote.  After being with me for six months, I think he knew his way around this area. He came home each day for 180 consecutive days. Why would Sunday night be any different?
  • I don't believe he was snatched up (with evil intentions) by someone.  Sunday night, at midnight, a cat-snatcher was here and grabbed my kitty?  Come on, that's not very likely either.
  • I don't believe he was befriended by someone, who thought he was lost and took him in. Not late, late Sunday night, at midnight.  At midnight he was still here, nearby.  If someone is going to befriend him, and take him in, that someone would have to find him in a parking lot or something, thinking he was lost.  Again, he was still here and nearby at midnight.  And if someone here at this complex befriended him, by now, with my flyers in each mailbox, in the laundry rooms, etc., they would know he was not a stray and was my cat.

The only answer that makes sense is that he was snatched up by a coyote.  That explains everything... why he didn't come home, why no one has seen him, why I can't find him, despite looking all over the neighborhood for him, why no one has posted an ad online, why no one has responded to my ads, why he hasn't been taken anywhere and scanned him for a micro-chip, etc.

Looking back, it's very, very possible that just one or two hours after I let him out Sunday night, he was already dead.  :(

I just wish I knew, one way or the other.   I just with I knew.  It's the not knowing that is tearing me up inside.

I realize the chances of me ever seeing him again are very, very small. And I want to thank everyone who helped me this past week, and for all of the wonderful cat stories I've heard, of pet owners who have been reunited with their lost pet long after their pet went missing. I'm sure all of these stories I've been told were true and they do give a person some hope.

But I'm not stupid.  For every one success story, there must be twice as many stories that don't have a happy ending. Actually no, it's certainly not just twice as many... or not even three times as many. It's almost certainly more like ten times as many.  Or twenty.  Or thirty.  The ratio is huge, I'm sure.  I know the odds are against me ever see my Baby Boy again.

Yesterday, without realizing it, I figured out the reason why I'm still busting my ass putting up flyers all over the neighborhood, and waking up every morning at 2:00 am, or at dawn, and riding my bicycle for hours and hours, looking for him, even though I know it's more than likely it's a wasted effort. 

It's because three months from now, or six months from now, or a year from now, I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and tell myself I did my very best I could to find him, especially this first week. I know this first week is the most important... because the "trail is still hot" so to speak.

As I write these words he's been gone now for seven nights.  It will be a full week later this evening, at midnight.

As I write this, it's raining here again, tonight.  If it wasn't raining, I'd be out looking for him at this very moment.  I was out in the rain Wednesday night and it didn't bother me at all.  On Friday, when I went back to the animal shelter in Orange, a woman who works there told me they receive very few cats on the days/nights when it rains... because the cats find shelter and hole up.  I think Baby Boy, if he is still alive, found some shelter from tonight's rain.  I hope so.  I think my chances of finding him in the rain tonight are not good.

Right now I do still have a little hope. I do.  And I believe I will continue to have hope for a little while longer. ("Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."  Andy Defresne - The Shawshank Redemption.)

  • I will continue to put out fresh food for him in the morning, outside my door, in case he happens to come home while I'm at work. When I arrive home I will continue to check that food bowl immediately, hoping of course, to see if the food has been touched.
  • I will continue to check the online Craig'sList Lost & Found ads.
  • I will continue to regularly check my e-mail, hoping for a response from my own Craig'sList ad.
  • I will continue to put up flyers and replenish the flyers I've put up that have come down.
  • I will continue to look for him each evening, and during the day and evening on the weekends.
  • I will continue to check the local animal shelters, personally, on the slim chance he was picked up.  I will also continue to check their website photos they post, of animals turned in to them.

I will continue, for awhile, to do all of these things and more.  I suppose when I stop doing all of these things is when I will have officially "given up."

I hope it won't be long before I can think about my Baby and not start crying. I want my thoughts of him to be happy thoughts, not thoughts that bring me to tears. I want to be able to tell stories about him with a laugh and a smile on my face.

But right now I just can't do that. When I think about him and talk about him I feel terrible and I start to lose it. I'm in so much pain right now it's almost unbearable.


I miss you, Sweetie. I miss you with all my heart. 
My home is not the same without you here.
I'm so sorry I let you outside that night.  It's just killing me that I don't know what happened to you.

Thank you for being my kitty-cat for the past six months.
I was so very proud of you.
You were the best cat I've ever had.



Below are four, poor-quality cell phone videos of Baby Boy. 

(My cell phone is an old, out-dated phone that takes crappy photos and videos. 
Still, right now I'm glad it takes photos and videos at all.  Otherwise I probably wouldn't even have these memories.)

They are Flash Video (FLV) files and will require a video player that recognizes that format to view them.   (Most do.)
Each video is just a minute or less in length.  If your operating system recognizes the format, all you have to do is click the photo, download it, and your default FLV player will play the video clip for you.


Baby Boy drinking water from my bathtub.


Here's Baby Boy stalking a bird. 
He's terrible at it!  Watch his tail
waving like a flag in the air!
The bird certainly saw him coming!

28 seconds of Baby Boy not doing
much of anything.  Most of this video is
of the back of his head.  He turns around
near the end.

In the last six seconds of this video,
you can see Baby Boy walking over to
me and rubbing up against my leg.