The cat was a shivering, waterlogged ball of black, matted fur crouching miserably in the middle of a Kansas City-area road as the freezing rain poured mercilessly down on it. The wet furball didn’t move as our car drove by it on our way home from church on Sunday.
“Was that a cat?!” I exclaimed to my daughter Maggie as I turned around and headed back to the poor animal, which still didn’t budge even as I drove right up to it.
Maggie ran out and grabbed the immobile thing and brought it back to the car. It seemed stunned. She wrapped it up in her jacket, and soon it was purring.
The cat was in quite a state. It was obvious that it had been living in the wild for weeks — possibly months. Its once beautiful long black fur was now a grotesque matted and clumped mess. We wondered if it had been lost for a long time or a victim of cruel neglect. It seemed to me that it had finally given up and was ready to die — the relentless freezing rain that morning was probably the last straw.
When we got home, our first mission was to feed the animal and make it comfortable. The cat was extremely hungry and thirsty judging by the amount of food and water it immediately ate and drank. My daughter brought it downstairs to her room to keep it away from our two very excitable and spirited shelties.
Then I set about trying to track down its owner. My husband and I planned to take the feline to the local vet on Monday to have it treated and find out some basic information about it — such as its age, sex, whether it was spayed or neutered, chipped, etc. Then, with that information in hand, we would register the cat with the local animal shelter.
Sunday afternoon I put up a post on the Lost/Found Pets KC Area Facebook page.
I had discovered how helpful the Lost/Found Pets Facebook pages could be over the summer after we had lost Pokey, one of our shelties, for four days. We were coming home from an RV trip and had to make a pit stop for Honey, our other sheltie, only five miles from home. Pokey ran out the door without her leash and was soon chasing cars down the street. That’s how she got lost. There we were, only five miles from home searching for our silly, ridiculous Pokey, and we had to give up after about an hour and a half and drive home. We were dejected and didn’t know what to do at first.
I searched for lost pet websites and actually paid to register Pokey as a lost pet with one of them. I shouldn’t have wasted my time. Facebook is where it’s at for finding lost pets. I created a post and soon dozens, then hundreds of wonderful, animal-loving people in the community were on the lookout for Pokey. Every day we were getting multiple tips of sightings and people had all kinds of helpful advice. We lost Pokey on Sunday and were able to finally find her on Thursday, thanks to scores of kindhearted people who had seen the Facebook post and were doing everything they could to help.
I knew that our best chance of finding the kitty’s owner was putting up a Facebook post.
Hundreds of pet-lovers immediately responded to the heartwrenching story about the freezing wet cat and shared the story. Several people had cats that fit the description and had distinguishing features that the vet could look for to confirm that it was theirs.
On Monday, a visit to the animal hospital confirmed that it was a young male, about two years old, neutered, with no chip. The cat didn’t match up perfectly with anyone who had contacted me. They took his temperature and gave him a course of steroids and antibiotics.
When I asked the veterinarian if he was going to die, he said, “Not today!” The vet recommended that we run no further tests, so we took the cat back home.
Our next move was to get the cat cleaned and groomed so we could have a better idea of what he really looked like. Incredibly, about five pet groomers generously offered to clean and groom the cat for free.
It was sorely needed.
Then someone contacted me saying she was almost sure the cat was hers. Melanie Ryan lives in Kansas City, Kansas, 20 miles away from where the cat was found. She said his name was Sampson and he was a neutered male, no chip, with white and black whiskers, about two years old. Ding, ding, ding and ding. Sampson had a sister from the same litter also living in the home, Melanie told me. She said he went missing in mid-November. The true test, Ryan was convinced, would be how they interacted with each other when they were reunited.
She came to look at the cat, which had yet to be cleaned and groomed, and although shocked by its unfortunate appearance, Ryan was sure he was hers.
Sampson is one lucky cat.
“He is definitely happy to be home,” she texted me on Tuesday. “They [Sampson and his sister] were sleeping together last night.”
Ryan said the siblings are both indoor cats that she “would let out occasionally.”
“He always came home until one day he didn’t,” she added.