Cat in shoes
Photo by Caitlyn Wright

An unbelievable story took place across Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and the internet this weekend.

One innocuous text led to a strange series of messages, a kidnapped pet, a bewildering mystery, and a massive online outpouring of support.

The saga started when Caitlyn Wright received a text message on Saturday night. Around midnight on July 8th, the mystery sender said that they’d found Wright’s cat, Duchess, in the Luxton area of Langford.

Thinking nothing of it (Duchess had a tag on her collar with Wright’s contact information) Wright messaged back saying that the cat wasn’t lost and that she lived nearby.

But at 4:00 pm on Sunday, with Duchess still yet to return, Wright received another text message from a different number with a much stranger story:

Text 1
Screenshot via Caitlyn Wright

Reaching Out For Help

Bewildered by the drastic turn of events, Wright turned to the West Shore Mums Facebook group for help. The group, which has over 3600 members, is intended for “caregivers to connect with other caregivers in the Greater Victoria area,” according to its bio.

Facebook screenshot 1

That post blew up. As of now, it’s racked up over 200 comments. The responses started pouring in on Sunday afternoon and have since become a mini-timeline of events.

What concerned a vast majority of commenters was the likelihood that the cat’s kidnapping was some kind of scam. “Something about this just doesn’t add up. That message seems way too elaborate,” wrote one person. “It sounds too sketchy !! They want you gone to Surrey so they can break in your place I bet! What losers! [sic]” wrote another.

So, Wright erred on the side of caution.

“I phoned Surrey RCMP and they said they were very busy and would try to get my cat,” said Wright.

“The woman [who called, saying she had the cat] provided me her address and I told police. I did not tell the woman the police were coming in case she was mentally ill or scared.”

Online Sleuthing

The woman in Surrey told Wright that the “drunk guy” had kept Duchess in a hot cupboard in his motorhome but that the cat was now doing better and exploring her house. Wright and other commenters remained skeptical, searching up the woman’s background and uncovering some unsavoury details.

But after a long period of waiting and plenty more comments and theories, Surrey RCMP finally got back to Wright late Sunday night.

“RCMP phoned me at about 11:45 last night. [They] said they had my cat and were dropping her off to Fraser Valley emergency clinic.”

So, the story turned out to be (at least partially) true. The cat had somehow made it over 100km away from home, across the Georgia Strait.

Mums Helping Mums

But despite the cat being in safe hands, the West Shore Mums group didn’t end their support. In fact, a few people reached out to Wright, offering to pick up Duchess from the mainland.

“A woman who reached out to me named Samar [Demontigny] told me she was going to Vancouver… and would pick up my cat if someone could come to Vancouver and wait at the ferry to bring [Duchess] back. Another lady named Sarah and her daughter came to pick my cat up on the other side.”

The group of good Samaritans. Left Saman Demontigny, Right Sarah Stolz, Centre Duchess

As of publication, Duchess is back home!

Cat and Cait
Duchess and Caitlyn

However, some aspects of the mystery still remain. Although the original texter on Saturday night has been identified as a teenager and is no longer considered to be involved with Duchess’s arduous journey, the identity of the “drunk man” remains unknown.