What do paws, tears and happy reunions have in common?
They were all present at the Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) on Wednesday morning, as a Bend family was reunited with a member they hadn’t seen for more than two months.
Deirdra Kelleher of Bend wept as she held her cat, Farley, in her arms for the first time since he ran away from home.
“It’s a Christmas miracle,” she said.
When she and Sean Hammer moved to Bend from Sisters in September, they had only lived there a week before her cat of ten years made a run for it.
“He’s an outdoor cat, so he didn’t want to be in the house, you know, got a chance and ran out and we didn’t even notice,” Sean said. “I think the neighbor cat kinda got in a tussle with him and he got lost.”
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Even as they worried, they knew Farley had survival skills that would see him through.
“He’s not just like a house cat who doesn’t know how to hunt, he knows how to survive,” Deirdra said. “He’s lived in a Sisters rural area with a lot of acres to roam. I think most house cats couldn’t have survived.”
The day before Thanksgiving, someone who lived just a few blocks from Sean and Deirdra called up the Humane Society after Farley wandered in through the cat door of their home.
“That person was really kind, with the cold weather, allowed him to come on in and then eventually let him stay in the room for a few days,” said Lynne Ouchida, the Director of HSCO. “And then thinking that somebody might be missing their cat, and Farley was definitely in the condition where he needed some care, brought him to us so that he could get the care he needed and also in the hopes of reunification with his original family.”
Farley didn’t have a microchip, but one Humane Society employee spent hours on Tuesday scouring local lost and found pages online, until they spotted a familiar face.
When the employee sent Deirdra and Sean the photo of the cat they found, Deirdra said she fell to the floor and started bawling.
“I saw the picture, and I’m like, there’s really no doubt about it,” she said.
Farley lived off the land and even made it through a recent snowstorm, but his time off the radar took its toll.
“He was severely matted. We also discovered that he has a heart murmur,” Ouchida said. “He’s about ten years old, so there’s the typical senior things like dental care.”
Sean pointed out that he looked “skinnier than normal.”
“He’s a mess right now, but we’ll get him back to his full fuzzy self,” Deirdra said.
Back home just in time for the holidays; a reunion that almost didn’t happen.
“Stories like this are a good reminder for everyone to look down at their pet cat, dog, make sure that they have a collar and ID tag, because the person who found Farley, for instance, would have just called the owners,” Ouchida said. “Microchips are also really important. It’s a permanent form of identification that’s implanted under the skin.”
Deirdra and Sean plan to give Farley the happiest life they can in the days ahead.
“For other people who are missing their cat, I know what you’re going through,” Deirdra said. “It’s hard, but you got to keep the faith alive!”
You can get a microchip for your pet at your local veterinarian, and Fix Bend frequently offers low-cost microchip clinics throughout Central Oregon.