Cygnus and Arcturus are two Detroit-area cats with some very big claims to fame. Arcturus, a spotted Savannah who measures 19.05 inches high, in the fall won the Guinness World Record for tallest domestic cat. At the same time, his housemate Cygnus, a fluffy Maine coon with a 17.5-inch feather-duster hanging from his rear, snagged the world record for longest tail.
Now they're missing following a fire that destroyed their home, and their owners are offering a very big reward to whoever finds them and two other cats: $25,000 each - or $100,000 for all four - to be paid in bitcoin.
No one tracks missin-pet reward offers, but this one surely ranks among the heftiest ever. In March, a Californian made headlines after posting signs offering $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 British pounds - more than $13,000 today - for her stolen show dog, the Telegraph deemed it the biggest known reward for a pet. (Bitcoin and physical currencies are not apples and apples, of course, but some merchants, including Overstock.com, do accept the virtual currency.)
The sum 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 Will and Lauren Powers, according to Will Powers' sister, Brittney Powers. When he woke Sunday morning to find their Farmington Hills home ablaze, Will Powers, 32, frantically searched for the cats but could not locate them before firefighters pulled him out, she said. He left several doors open in hopes the cats would escape, but search parties and live traps placed in the nearby woods have turned up no sign of them, she said.
"They treated their cats like children. They were members of their family. And them having notoriety for their sizes has nothing to do with how they feel about them," said Brittney Powers, who spoke on behalf of the couple because, she said, they were too distraught to be interviewed. "They're really devastated."
Lauren and Will Powers met while pursuing degrees in osteopathic medicine, and they bonded over the two cats Will had then, one of whom was Sirius. They married last summer, Brittney Powers said, and they "love to come home and have their cats be there and snuggle up to them."
The couple didn't aim to land their pets in the record books, Will Powers said earlier this month on the television talk show "Pickler and Ben." They got the cats about two years ago, and 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, Will Powers posted a photo of it on a Reddit veterinary forum. The epic tail went viral - and soon Guinness got in touch "and said hey, we saw that tail," he said.
A Guinness team came out to Farmington Hills to measure, he said, and when they noticed Arcturus - who's a hybrid between a serval, a kind of African wildcat, and a domestic cat - they decided to measure his height. He, too, was a record-breaker, Will Powers told the show hosts, before launching into a demonstration of the cat's surprising affection.
"Give Daddy a kiss," he said, cradling the cat. Arcturus complied, licking his owner's nose. But Cygnus is typically the cuddlier one, said Lauren Powers, 30, while adding that he "definitely uses [his tail] to knock things over, especially when he's hungry."
Will Powers was treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries after the fire, and a friend who was staying there with her corgi managed to jump out a second-floor window, Brittney Powers said. Lauren Powers was not home at the time.
Some pet trackers and organizations eschew rewards, arguing that they encourage searchers who might chase and frighten off missing animals. But Brittney Powers said her brother, who's expressed his enthusiasm for bitcoin on Facebook, did not hesitate to offer his cache 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," Will Powers 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, Brittney Powers said, the couple is now asking that anyone offering financial help instead donate to the shelter or the American Red Cross.
"If you want to do anything to help us, do that," Will Powers 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."