When Matt the Cat went missing, no one ever would have imagined how the entire local community would rally behind his owner in order to help bring Matt home.
Maire Murphy’s orange cat, Matt, managed to escape her home through an open door. Murphy, of Tower Grove Park, St. Louis, Missouri, immediately posted Matt’s photo on the Missouri Lost and Found Paws Facebook page, then set about putting up bright yellow flyers around her neighborhood. She received a few calls of found cats, but none of them turned out to be Matt.
Still, Murphy persisted in her search. She posted on her neighborhood’s Facebook page. One of her neighbors created a Matt the Cat Facebook page. Her brother-in-law created a Twitter account to help spread word of Matt’s disappearance. With the added social media capacity, Murphy received hundreds of messages of encouragement and notices of Matt sightings.
It didn’t stop there. Businesses in the community also supported the efforts to bring Matt the Cat home. Business owners stepped up and offered space for meetings to better organize the search for Matt. Tyler Krings, a local bartender, created a Matt the Cat cocktail. Neighbors put out food and shelters, hoping to lure Matt home. In short, the entire community came together in hopes of reuniting Matt with Murphy.
The community enthusiasm behind the search helped to keep Murphy hopeful, even against discouraging odds – Matt had been missing for 70 days. But then a photo of a stray orange cat was posted to the community’s Nextdoor page caught everyone’s attention. People began commenting on the photo, identifying the cat as Matt before Murphy had even seen the photo. Murphy was alerted to the photo by a stranger, got into her car, and drove across town to the location where the photo had been taken.
By the time Murphy got to the location, the cat was gone. She started handing out flyers before driving home, when a neighbor alerted her that a similar looking cat was on his porch. Murphy and the man caught the cat and Murphy took him home.
Murphy didn’t let herself believe the cat was Matt until his microchip was verified. She had, after all, looked at a number of orange cats bearing a resemblance to Matt, but none had turned out to be her cat. In the meantime, though, Facebook users sat in suspense, waiting for verification that Matt was, in fact, home.
Two hours later, Murphy posted to Facebook, confirming that Matt was home. Her announcement received more than 1,000 likes.
The entire community celebrated the cat’s homecoming. Murphy and Matt received a free pet photo shoot from Michele Verna Photography, and a spa day from Cuts Pet Market. A song was written for Matt, and he’s featured on a new t-shirt through Zazzle.
So what did Murphy do right? She acted quickly, spreading the alert of Matt’s disappearance through social media. Murphy was able to include photos of Matt in her social media posts and on her posters and flyers, and she made her flyers big and bright yellow so that they couldn’t be missed. Through the Matt the Cat Facebook page, Murphy maintained an online presence, keeping interest going and keeping Matt fresh on everyone’s minds. Her efforts, paired with the care and compassion of her community, led to this fairy tale ending. We’re so glad that Matt made it home.