Fiddler, a local celebrity on the Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, was discovered safely after three weeks on the lam.
He came back with another scar to add to his collection — an abscess on his right ear, likely from an encounter with another animal — but the 11-year-old cat was unharmed.
“Three weeks is a long time,” said his companion on occasion, Cat (unrelated) McGurk. “This time around, I was pretty sure that was it. I accepted. People were texting me, like, ‘Your cat is dead dude.'”
But while he was at work, McGurk received a text message from a friend: a cat that looked exactly like Fiddler was loitering in an alley near their house.
It would be hard to find another cat that looks a lot like Fiddler.
Grizzly, with serrated ears, a tail that appears to have been broken multiple times, and a general impression of having recently survived a fight with a raccoon after years spent trapped in the bottom of a well, the Fiddler is often the subject of a double take.
I put it in the back of a picture of something I posted [online] “And a lot of people have reacted,” McGurk said. Some have commented on his resemblance to Gmork from The Neverending Story. Others simply begged to be washed.
And I had to be like, ‘This is just what it looks like. “He went to the vet, got all the checks done, he bathed, he was cleaned… He’s just a greasy, brittle, shabby cat. He was probably the ugliest I’ve ever seen.
“People started saying he looked like a bad stuffed cat, and that’s how he became the stuffed cat. He was kind of building a presence. [in Yellowknife] Since that position.
McGurk moved quickly on receiving word of the violinist’s vision.
“I didn’t even reply. They said ‘I just jumped in my car.’” “When I got out, I heard his meow… It’s so special. It looks like the devil is pretending to be a cat. And when I saw him, he immediately ran.”
McGurk was part of a group that first found Fiddler touring The Folk on the Rocks Music Festival website two years ago. It didn’t take long for the two of them to form a unique bond.
“He’s kind of semi-wild,” McGurk said, “but the confidence he has for me, it’s insane.”
While much of Fiedler’s past life remains a mystery, he has a complete cat jawline who has spent a good amount of time unconstrained. One of his ears appears to have a TNR score, which is used to identify feral cats—not tamed enough to live as pets—that have been confined, fertilized, and returned to their environment.
When McGurk tried to keep him safely behind closed doors, he howled day and night, growing more and more sad. McGurk and his roommate tried to walk him on a belt and play with him, but there was no distracting Fedler from the siren call of the wilderness.
“It’s a cat that refuses to be inside,” they said. “Shortly after I adopted him, I got chickens, and I had all these chicks running around the house…and he did nothing. This cat has no prey drive, no idea how to hunt. I have no idea what he eats when he’s outside. For days at a time. But it eased my conscience that if I let him out, I wouldn’t contribute to the decline of North American bird numbers.”
However, allowing Fiddler to be Fiddler has a price.
In February, he disappeared during one of the coldest weeks of the year. Veterinarians advise not to let cats go outside below 7°C if they are not used to the cold. At sub-zero temperatures, even acclimatized cats are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. As the days went by, Fiedler’s fans feared that his song would be the swan.
“Ambient temperature was -42°C. Death of winter. I said to myself, there are two options here: he is either dead or hiding somewhere. It was emotional. But I was hopeful – I knew he was a survivor. Using incandescent bulbs, bedding, food…”
Sure enough, when the temperature dropped to -23 degrees Celsius, Fiedler came home and friends and neighbors rejoiced.
There are plans in the works to get him a GPS tracker, prompting speculation about the cat secrets she might reveal. Do hares hunt for days and nights across the tundra? Is he at war with the foxes, or is he accepted as one of them, currently living a double life?
But for McGurk, Fiedler’s charm lies not in the secret of his long absences but in the strange joys of his existence.
“Everyone who meets him loves him, because he’s so eccentric. They said ‘He’s a character.'”
“There is no other cat quite like him.”