The Curious Tale Of The Missing Moggy, And The Missing ‘Found’ Moggy


Oliver the Missing Mog

Oliver the Missing Mog

Psychics, eh? Is there anything they can’t do? They can cure/heal/treat/help cancer, use their magic to confirm police reports and wear flat caps with their arses hanging out, and they can contact dead people who never actually existed. They’re a marvellous lot!

But that’s not the full extent of the psychic realm, it seems, as the BBC reported last week:

‘An Indian psychic is helping to search for cat which went missing from a Lincolnshire village. Oliver, a four-year-old tabby and white cat, went missing from Boothby Graffoe in October.

Owner Sue Machen, 56, has paid £1,000 for Hertfordshire-based company Animal Search UK to hunt for the animal.

It has employed psychic Sarita Gupta, who is based in Bangalore, to help in the search, a move which has been criticised by a sceptics’ society’. – Source: BBC

That’s right – we’re dealing psychic pet detectives! Which, to be clear, isn’t a detective who specialises in finding psychic pets (I can’t really see how one could make a full career out of that, really), but instead people who claim to use their psychic powers to detect and locate missing pets. Obviously.

So, what’s the story here? Well, it’s pretty simple – Oliver is a white and grey tabby cat. He has a white stomach and legs, and is tabby down his back and tail. He also has a distinctive black spot on the left side of his pink nose. And he’s missing. His owner Sue Machen, ‘distraught’ (according to the Fail) turned to Animal Search UK to locate him, and – as the newspapers report – they hired Indian mystic, magic woman and general all-round superhero Sarita Gupta to locate said missing moggy.

Miss Gupta, it’s reported, had similar success a fortnight ago in finding a tabby called Chiquitita in Birmingham, so she has form in this area, as Tom Watkins of Animal Search UK attests:

‘We did a search in Birmingham recently where the owner contacted her and was told the cat would be found where children play.

‘We then got a call from somebody – and when we searched a local garden, the cat was found trapped in a Wendy house. It was quite remarkable.’ – Source: Daily Fail

Remarkable indeed. So, what’s the Gupta feeling for the location of dear Ollie?

‘Ms Gupta believes the cat has been adopted as a stray by a new family, who do not know he has an owner.’ – Source: BBC

Amazing. Or not, as the spokesperson for the sceptics society explained to the BBC:

‘Looking at the advice given by the psychic in both cases, we have the suggestion that the cat is staying with another family, and the idea that lost cats like to be near children. Both of these are incredibly obvious scenarios to suggest for a missing cat, and would likely be the suggestions you’d get from someone without psychic powers – and without the need for a fee, too’. – Source: BBC

Now there’s some REAL wisdom, if you ask me. Which they did – because the very cool thing is, when the BBC saw a story of a missing cat and a psychic, they turned to we Merseyside Skeptics for balance. I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes me that they actually bothered putting balance into the tale. In fact, in full, what I told the BBC was:

‘Looking at the advice given by the psychic in both cases, we have the suggestion that the cat is staying with another family, and the idea that lost cats like to be near children. Both of these are incredibly obvious scenarios to suggest for a missing cat, and would likely be the suggestions you’d get from someone without psychic powers – and without the need for a fee, too.

I’m sure if the cat is living with another family, people will feel it proves Ms Gupta’s psychic skills. However, if the same advice had been given by a non-psychic party, purely as an educated guess, nobody would suggest psychic powers were at play.

Of course, if Ms Gupta were interested in demonstrating that her skills work in less predictable and obvious scenarios, the Merseyside Skeptics Society would be only to happy to help put her powers to a fair and reasonable test’. – Source: Erm, Me.

And I stand by that – if Ms Gupta, or any other psychic, is in any way interested in demonstrating their talents, please contact me and we’ll discuss it: press@merseysideskeptics.org.uk. I check my email obsessively, and promise I’ll get back to you immediately.

Still, that’s not quite everything, where our little Ollie is concerned. Never one to shy away from a bit of research, I thought I’d check out what Animal Search UK have to say about the case of Oliver and the psychic. Fortunately, their website prominently displays their contact details, so I thought ‘why not?’

Interestingly enough, I was able to get straight through to Tom Watkins, who’s the lead investigator in the case of missing Oliver. He was happy to discuss the case, although entirely reticent to give me any details not already in the public domain (which is understandable, I suppose). First of all, I asked if employing psychics is the norm for their pet searching – as it turns out, they don’t hire psychics, they only consider psychic information when provided to them via the owners independently consulting a witch of their own accord. So strike one for the Daily Fail, who titled their whole piece ‘Distraught owner of missing cat pays team of PSYCHICS £1,000 to find her moggy’.

Further, when I asked how much stock his company places in the information of psychics, Tom told me: ‘We listen to them if the owners want us to, we don’t place too much stock in what they say, but we don’t discount anything’.

Interestingly, Tom was also able to confirm to me that the moggy in Birmingham was indeed located pretty much exactly where the psychic said it would be – in the sense that it was somewhere that children play. OK, sure a wendy house seems like a great hit there (although, of course, missing cats are more likely to be found by/with children than you’d imagine, I expect). However, Tom would not share any other details of that case, when I asked. Data protection? Possibly. I’ll come back to that.

Even more interestingly, Tom seemed to be a little confused as to the timelines involved with missing Ollie. As the papers have all reported, the psychic has been drafted in to help. When I asked Tom when this involvement occurred, he told me it was last week (roughly the time of the article). Which I found a little interesting, given that the website ‘ThisIsLincolnshire’ reported on Sue’s contact with a psychic back in December 2009. As I say, not one to shy away from the research. So, of course, I mentioned this to Tom… who confirmed that Sue contacted psychics to locate her missing cat 6 months ago. And, amazingly, the cat still isn’t found. Which says an awful lot about the quality of the psychic’s information, if you ask me.

So, bearing all of this in mind, one particular question springs to mind: Why is it that a story which essentially boils down to ‘psychic fails to help find missing cat after 6 months of involvement’ makes the national press, while supposedly a week before the story the same psychic successfully helped locate a missing cat in Birmingham, in a tale that’s not even been reported in local media in Birmingham?

Why is it that the success story gets no column inches, whereas the ongoing and unsuccessful search makes headlines across the world?

And why is there not a single report of a cat called Chiquitita in Birmingham, a missing cat being found in a wendy house, or Animal Search UK locating a missing cat in Birmingham? Isn’t it strange that even the company themselves don’t feature this amazing success story on their website, despite having a ‘Latest News‘ page and a ‘Happy Tails‘ page?

Is it me, or does anyone sense a shaggy cat story here?

Finally, just to cap off the story, it’s worth noting that the tale gets a whopping 850-word write-up in the Mail, in the most glowing and positive of terms, with the psychic angle largely peripheral throughout. As would be consistent, say, with a piece of PR.

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  1. #1 by Michael Gray on June 1, 2010 - 00:54

    I smell a rat…

  2. #2 by Kelly on June 1, 2010 - 19:49

    I smell a money grubbing rat…

  3. #3 by Stu on June 2, 2010 - 11:03

    The following link may be useful: http://bit.ly/c3QlzA I hope micky ‘from the dead’ sees this (sorry mate).

    I’ll be starting an anti psychic group on facebook over the next few days. Details to follow.

  4. #4 by Mike Boyce on June 2, 2010 - 11:47

    You may smell a rat, but it’s a CAT we’re looking for! Maybe that’s the problem with finding it: dyslexic psychics!

    Interestingly enough, in that local newspaper article, the cat’s owner herself is reported as saying the cat may have found a new home:

    – Someone may have found him thinking he was a stray, or he might be living rough. –

    Whether she’s just echoing her psychic advisors or came up with this herself would be interesting to know.

    If she did think of that herself then, with double-sided predictions like that she could be a psychic herself!

  5. #5 by daksha on July 16, 2019 - 19:16

    Psychics are a pain in the neck

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