Tanis Clarke spent more than $6,000 on colour flyers to find her lost cat, Marcus.
Call it the kitty-come-back campaign. It took one year, $7,000, hundreds of phone calls and 35,000 flyers, but a much-loved, six-toed, green-eyed kitty is home. Marcus, a female calico cat from Kitsilano has renewed her habit of lying on owner Tanis Clarke's chest as she watches television or reads. A few scratchy licks to the cheek don't bother Clarke, who is ecstatic to have Marcus home after a year of searching. Even if Marcus is better known for her cantankerousness, Clarke knew she needed to get her back.
Marcus' disappearing act began April 2 last year when she and Clarke returned to their Kitsilano home after spending four months in a nearby apartment while repairs and renovations were done. The two had moved out after a chimney fire one night had caused damage to the house. As Clarke went to work that day, she didn't think about Marcus trying to adjust to the strange smells, the workmen who were finishing repairs and their loud equipment. "She just decided to bolt," says Clarke. The cat didn't come back the very next day, nor the day after that. And soon a frantic Clarke found herself posting signs and chatting up Broadway merchants in her effort to bring Marcus home.
A month later, she decided to pull out all the stops. Taking a picture to a local printer, Clarke had 35,000 colour flyers printed up -- at a cost of more than $6,000 -- that she then mailed to homes in six postal codes: From the University of B.C. to Granville Street and the beach to 41st Avenue. "It was at that point that my friends thought I had completely lost it," she says and then laughs. She asked people to look in their sheds, under their cars and "any place [Marcus] might have crawled into to keep warm or safe."
And then the phone calls began. More than 30 messages left on her machine each day to be returned. More calls at night from concerned neighbours offering advice, support and possible sightings. "I had to phone them all back because it just takes that one that says, 'I think I've seen her,' " she says. Clarke was even taken in by a scam artist posing as a church minister who said he had her cat. He took $100 in reward money and disappeared without ever producing the cat he said he'd found. Then one man phoned to say he thought he had seen Marcus. Together he and Clarke searched around his house, but turned up nothing. During the summer, he continued to keep an eye out and remained in touch with Clarke.
But it was his plan to adopt another dog that eventually brought Marcus back into the picture. As he looked up dogs on the Internet, he decided to search for calico cats like Marcus. One turned up listed at the West Vancouver SPCA. Fearing more disappointment for Clarke, the friendly stranger -- who didn't want to be named -- biked over to the SPCA by Ambleside Park to see whether the cat was truly Marcus. It was. "He said, 'I swear on a stack of Bibles it's your cat,' " says Clarke. Knowing she would be heartbroken if the cat wasn't Marcus, Clarke asked her boyfriend to go and pick Marcus up from the SPCA. "She was waiting right at the front door," she says.