Owners offer US$100k in bitcoin for missing cats

DETROIT • Cygnus and Arcturus are two Detroit-area cats with purr-fect records.

Arcturus, a spotted Savannah who measures 0.48m high, won the Guinness World Record in autumn for tallest domestic cat. His housemate Cygnus, a Maine coon with a 0.44m tail, snagged the world mark for longest tail.

Now they are missing following a fire that destroyed their home.

Their owners are offering a very big reward to whoever finds them and two other cats: US$25,000 (S$34,000) each - or US$100,000 for all four - to be paid in bitcoin.

No one tracks missing-pet reward offers, but this one surely ranks among the heftiest ever. In March, a Californian offered US$20,000 for the return of a missing cat.

Four years ago, when a woman in England remortgaged her home to be able to offer £10,000 (S$18,000) - for her stolen show dog - the Telegraph deemed it the biggest known reward for a pet.

The sum offered is a reflection of just how important Arcturus and Cygnus, as well as their brother Sirius and a temporary feline houseguest named Yuki, are to owners Will and Lauren Powers.

(Clockwise from far left) Cygnus, Arcturus and Sirius went missing during a house fire.
(Clockwise from far left) Cygnus, Arcturus and Sirius went missing during a house fire. PHOTO: COURTESY OF STARCATS_ DETROIT/ INSTAGRAM

When he woke up on Sunday morning to find their Farmington Hills home ablaze, Will, 32, frantically searched for the cats, but could not locate them. He left several doors open hoping the cats would escape, but search parties and traps placed in nearby woods have turned up no sign of them.

The couple met while pursuing degrees in osteopathic medicine, and bonded over the two cats Will had then, one of whom was Sirius.

They did not aim to land their pets in the record books, he said earlier this month on television talk show Pickler And Ben.

They got the cats about two years ago. He concocted what he deemed to be a nutritionally superior feline diet that involved slow-cooked chicken, he said.

When he noticed a year later that Cygnus' tail seemed unusually long, he posted a photo on a veterinary forum. The epic tail went viral - and soon Guinness got in touch.

A team came out to Farmington Hills to measure and when they noticed Arcturus - a hybrid of a serval, a kind of African wild cat, and a domestic cat - they decided to measure his height.

He, too, was a record-breaker.

Now that the rewards have been posted, some pet trackers and organisations argue they encourage searchers who might chase and frighten off missing animals.

But Ms Brittney Powers said her brother did not hesitate to offer his cache of bitcoin for the return of his cats."I've been saving it for years and would gladly give it all up for one of my boys back," he wrote this week on Facebook.

Cygnus and Arcturus had helped raise money for the local Ferndale Cat Shelter, posing for photos with donors. Though they have lost all their possessions, the couple request that any financial help be directed instead to the shelter or the American Red Cross.

"If you want to do anything to help us, do that," Will wrote on Facebook. "If the death of Cygnus, Arcturus and Sirius isn't meaningless and can help another family love their cats like we loved ours, then this tragedy can have something good come from it."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Owners offer US$100k in bitcoin for missing cats'. Subscribe