One deaf cat's journey has touched the hearts and minds of many Rutgers students. Twitch, a cat owned by Casey Haddox, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore, was lost on Feb. 6 and found days later with the help of social media.
Haddox adopted the cat at the Edison Animal Shelter. His name, she said, comes from a constant tilt in his neck.
“He was just born like that," Haddox said. "He has gotten a lot of tests done on him. He is 100 percent okay. He just literally has a tilted neck. People think he’s very different because of that, and he’s just a little slower."
The playful, friendly cat left the house without any of the owners knowing.
“My landlord came to my house, left the backdoor open (and) my cat escaped. I went back to sleep because it was earlier in the morning. (I did not notice) until my roommate, Lindsey started asking me where my cat was,” Haddox said.
Twitch usually stays close to the house, but when Haddox and her roommates started to look for the cat, Twitch was nowhere to be found, she said.
“He had been gone all day. So we started immediately just trying to retrace where we think he could’ve gone ... the general area around my house, down the streets. He’s gotten out before, but he’s like a stoop cat, so he’ll wait at people’s doors,” Haddox said.
Haddox reached out to New Brunswick locals too see if anyone had seen the cat, and she posted a picture on the anonymous social media platform, Yik Yak. Responses flooded in out of nowhere, she said.
Twitch had been seen at the Hidden Grounds Coffee Shop on Easton Avenue, she said. Following the Yik Yak post's success, the cat's owners spread their campaign to other social media platforms.
The posts started to go viral, she said.
“I was really surprised how fast I got information. I posted it in the Rutgers Facebook group. I had a bunch of people messaging me saying they had seen him, or they thought they saw him,” said Ashley Manzo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and one of Haddox's roommates.
Not long after the story went viral, someone claiming to have Twitch contacted Haddox.
Though animal control had Twitch in their possession, the group had some trouble reclaiming their cat.
Lindsey Kahn, Casey Haddox's roommate and a School of Arts and Sciences senior, called animal control at least six times and left descriptions of the cat, mentioning the distinctive head tilt.
The next morning, they received a call from an unknown number. The caller said that they could pick up the cat behind the New Brunswick City Hall the following day.
Haddox and her four roommates were unable to locate the caller and continued their search in city hall. They soon found the person who had Twitch.
“He said that they took him to the vet automatically for the head tilt, which kind of upset me, because my cat’s not a stray. Obviously by taking an animal to the vet, they’re automatically going to charge you,” Haddox said.
Her suspicions proved correct. The person told Casey that she owes them money for taking care of the cat, despite no paperwork being shown.
“So he tells me, without any paperwork, 'You owe $50 to us for holding the cat, and you owe $87 for the veterinarian fees,' so it was $137," she said. "That makes no sense, because we left descriptions telling you my cat was lost.”
When asked to provide documentation, she said the person provided a veterinarian bill for a different cat.
At this time, he did not have Twitch with him and did not allow the group to see the cat, she said.
“The veterinarian bill says my cat is 15-year-old, two-month, Calico female. Mind you, my cat is 1 year (old), black and he’s a male. He didn’t show me any badges that he was in animal control," Haddox said. "It was just so sketchy."
The group found that Twitch was in a kennel in the man’s car the whole time. Haddox said she could not see the cat until she paid the bill. The bill discrepancy happened because of a of paper work mix-up at the Raritan Animal Hospital, she said.
Kahn and Haddox then called the police.
“The police obviously sided with him. This is what they said — 'They were on their lunch break and this issue is they left their lunch break for,'” Haddox said.
Haddox paid more money because she refused to cooperate. She said she could not see the cat until she paid the money.
Twitch is now safe at his home. The final cost of getting him back was $152.
“The way animal control handled the situation was unprofessional,” Kahn said.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misnamed Lindsey Kahn and misidentified her as Casey Haddox's sister.
Christopher Bohorquez is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @c_bo_sauce.