City Paper is not for tourists
A very occasional series about escaped cats.
Poor Hugo. He was a street cat rescued from West Virginia and carted to D.C., only to bounce around to friendly and supportive, but ultimately temporary, foster parents. Then Vikram Chiruvolu, 31, who works at home writing a book about philosophies of physics and information theory, met Hugo, loved Hugo, adopted Hugo.
And then Hugo jumped from his third-floor window off Belmont Street NW, swinging onto a nearby branch and landing on a soft patch of brush below. He left behind his collar, as well as his soft cat bed, his favorite game (an extended fishing pole with a string attached), and one very sad Vikram, who had never had a pet before and had Hugo for only about 10 days. “He’s a terrific cat, really friendly and social. He’s the most puppy-like cat, just loved to play and be around people,” says Chiruvolu.
So Chiruvolu papered Adams Morgan and North Dupont Circle with fliers. His friend and adoption coordinator, Omkar Sawardekar—he fosters pets with the foster-only rescue outfit Homeward Trails—dutifully put lost-cat listings on Craigslist and offered a $100 reward. One fine fellow called and said he had a cat in a box and was going to kill it if he didn’t get 50 bucks. Sawardekar says he called the Humane Society.
The whole experience of losing Hugo has opened a “whole world of strangeness” regarding cats, says Chiruvolu. A woman in his neighborhood—she is like the “Jedi cat lady,” he says—sought him out and asked him if Hugo was a recently neutered male. She has six cats, see, and a garage set up as a playground for strays and she had recently smelled some urine she didn’t recognize.
“She had six cat traps on her front porch and told me how they worked,” says Chiruvolu. They then walked around the neighborhood together and the Jedi cat lady taught Chiruvolu “how to think like a cat. I think I almost got it.” But, alas, they did not find Hugo.
Chiruvolu did see him once, completely freaked out with his hair on end, possibly after a run-in with a fox. Hugo bolted past him and into an alley. This was about a month ago and it’s the last time Chiruvolu saw Hugo. If you’ve seen him, e-mail the info to email@example.com.