What would you do if your best feline friend was lost in a strange place? Melissa Hayden faced this question when Eclipse, her year-and-a-half-old Siamese seal point neuter, disappeared into the dark from a show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. It is unclear whether he got out of his cage on his own or was helped out. What is clear is that he had vanished.
Eclipse is a gentle animal who enjoys participating in CFA shows. This show was running late. When the last ring finished, Melissa placed each cat in a carrier on her cart and started out the show hall door, only to remember she had left a room key in the building. Leaving the cart by the car just outside the door, she raced in for the key. Returning to load the car, she picked up Eclipse’s carrier and found it was empty, though the door was still latched. In shock, she mentally reviewed putting him in the carrier, checking the door, and fastening the cover. How could he have escaped and refastened the latch? Heart racing, she secured the other cats and began to search.
From the moment she discovered Eclipse was missing, Melissa was flooded with suggestions and assistance from concerned animal lovers. Humane Society personnel at the show advised her to leave his carrier with food and a litter pan outside the building under a table to provide shelter in the rainy weather. Fairgrounds staff allowed afterhours access for a search, and helped Melissa review security footage of the parking lot. Show management made announcements encouraging people to check their belongings in case Eclipse was hiding in the hall, and to watch for him as they left. Exhibitors helped search the hall and the parking lot th