On Halloween night, Cleo, a fat black and white cat known primarily as “Fatsu” to residents and business owners, vanished into downtown Torrance.
A resident familiar with Fatso reported to a liquor store employee that the cat he frequented saw a stranger leaving the area with the cats in their car. Then the writer spread the news, according to the owner of Fatso, Jennifer Vanderhof, as well as other residents.
While some who knew Fatso said the person who carried him might have thought he needed a home, others said they thought the act might have been more harmful—given at the time it was taken.
Black cats are synonymous with Halloween and sometimes bad luck. Violence toward black cats surging during the holiday has become something of an urban legend, although there is little evidence to prove that black cats face any increased danger on All Hallows Eve.
No one has reported to the police. Regardless of the intention, Vanderhof and several other people in the area who knew Vaso are begging for him to return safely home. As of Friday morning, November 26, he was still missing.
“Everyone was asking where the cat was,” said Dan Niculescu, one of the residents involved. “He missed it.”
Vanderhof and her boyfriend Mike Caplinger met Fatsu in 2008 when the cat wandered their yard in search of a place to stay.
The couple welcomed the kitten, took him to the vet, where he fixed and dismembered, and brought him home – and named him Cleo – to join the ranks of the four cats already living in the Vanderhoof home.
Fatso’s very friendly demeanor was met with aggression by a territorial male indoor cat – eventually Vanderhof decided it would be best to let Fatso come and go as he pleased.
Cleo, who was then given a name, took on the nickname Fatso after becoming an outdoorsy cat.
“Unbeknownst to us,” Vanderhof said, “every time he went out, because he was so friendly, everyone would feed him.”
One of Fatso’s favorite places to hangout was, according to those who knew him, in front of the Handy Market, the neighborhood liquor store.
“He likes to sit on the brick wall so it’s at the same level as people’s eyesight,” Vanderhof said. “It’s not that he goes to eat; he goes to get attention. He drives people to their cars.”
Willie Schaffner, who lives next door and has known Fatsu for more than four years, overlooks the store from the front porch.
“It scared me because I look and he was always sitting on the corner by the store and I always expected to see him sitting there,” Schaffner said. “It’s a shame he suddenly disappeared.”
Fatso had many friends in the area. He was not only friendly, but also kind and inquisitive, according to those who interacted with him. Schaffner said that anyone who went to the liquor store would have to pet Fatso – if not, he would follow them until they gave up.
“He would sit in front of the liquor store, and then make his rounds across the street to everyone’s house,” said Rachel Kent, a downtown Torrance resident. “People, when they see me outside, ask me about the cat.”
Of all the cats in the area, Rachel’s son Gavin Kent said, Fatsu was not. 1.
He was just an adorable cat, he’s so friendly and I love him so much,” Gavin said. “He was a very, very good cat and I want him back.”
But downtown Torrance residents aren’t the only ones missing out on Fatso’s friendly presence. Vanderhoof says Gracie, his longtime companion and one of her indoor cats, is lost without him.
They do everything together except go to the liquor store,” Vanderhof said. “She doesn’t eat, she can’t sleep, she’s looking for him. She doesn’t have her girlfriend anymore and she’s having a really hard time.”
Vanderhoof offers a reward in exchange for Fatso’s safe return home. Anyone with information about the cat’s whereabouts can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Torrance Lost and Found Pets Facebook page.
“I hope to see him soon. I pray every night. I sit there wondering where he might be,” Schnafer said.
Fatsu was seen at least near Cabrillo Street, on Halloween night, wearing a green collar. Its chip ID is 981020009578288.