It’s been 20 months since Mugoddai, a black short-haired Siamese-faced feline, has gone missing. But Maxine Hillary, the cat’s owner and a “pet activist,” hasn’t given up: She’s set up a Web site (, postered Takoma Park and the District, and spent $5,000 on two different pet detectives. She’s looked at 50 cat leads, but thus far, the search has been fruitless. “This has really shaken my ground,” says Hillary, who found Mugoddai in Guam and named him after an emotion in the island’s Chamorro language, which describes the feeling when one sees a baby. “Most people understand that when you lose a pet, you’re losing a family member,” says Leigh Murphy, director of humane education at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. “But after being gone six months to a year, chances are they’re not going to return.” But Hillary remains hopeful, despite the prank calls she’s received. “Someone called and told me a pit bull ate my cat,” she says. “Another one called at 1 in the morning and said, ‘I just hit your cat with my car.’”

—Constantine Caloudas