Neighborly aid brings lost cat home to BruleA web of community support reunited a lost tabby named Nick with its owner Tamara Olson after the cat spent a month in the wild.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A web of community support reunited a lost tabby named Nick with its owner Tamara Olson after the cat spent a month in the wild.
The feline escaped from a pet-porter on Dec. 22 outside Superior Animal Hospital and Boarding Suites. The kennel, carrying a newly neutered Nick and littermate Chip, broke. Chip stayed put. Nick was gone in the blink of an eye.
“I didn’t give up,” said Olson, who lives in Brule. Every day on her way to work and every night on her way home, she would stop near the animal hospital and holler for Nick. She posted a lost pet ad on Craigslist, shared her loss on Facebook and put up fliers. But as weeks stretched to a month, it was hard to keep on hoping.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d see him again,” Olson said. But a network of neighbors in Superior’s Central Park area was already on the case.
Sandy Breitzmann searched for Nick for weeks.
“Every time we went outside we were calling, looking,” she said. Her hunt started when another neighbor, Dave Kurkinen, found a tabby cat in his yard between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Breitzmann couldn’t reach anyone at the Animal Rescue Federation, so she checked the Superior shelter’s Facebook page. There, she read Olson’s post about Nick, called Superior Animal Hospital and got Olson’s phone number. The cat Kurkinen found wasn’t Nick. Neither was a second cat Breitzmann found in the neighborhood. Then she talked to another neighbor, Trish Hegstrom-Olson about a cat with a paper collar.
Hegstrom-Olson has only one cat of her own, but she is quick to put out food for others she sees wandering the neighborhood. On Christmas Day, three days after Nick escaped, she noticed a new cat at her dish. Over the next few days, she saw the feline out there in the early morning hours. But whenever she opened the door, it ran. Hegstrom-Olson started talking to the cat when she went outside for smoke breaks, but the feline still hung back.
“It wasn’t until I wore my pink fuzzy slippers and approached him,” that she was able to break the ice. Suddenly, Hegstrom-Olson said, “He was all over me.”
When she picked him up, the Superior woman noticed the white paper collar around his neck from the veterinarian’s office. She was about to call Superior Animal Hospital about the cat when she spoke to Breitzmann.
“The day Sandy told me he was Nick, I opened the door and said ‘Hey Nick, come on in,’” Hegstrom-Olson said. “He walked in.”
“Thank God for that paper collar,” Olson said.
After being contacted by Breitzmann, the Brule woman picked her pet up that night.
“I cried,” Olson said. The 10-month-old cat was dehydrated, had lost about five pounds and had burrs in its fur. Other than that, the feline was healthy. Olson’s family welcomed their lost pet home. Nick, who is described as a 100 percent lap cat, spent the first days focused on eating, drinking and sleeping.
“He hasn’t even wanted to go near the door,” Olson said. When it opens, Nick looks the other way.
The tabby cat started its life unclaimed. Nick was one of four kittens that Olson rescued from a Superior trailer park along with their mother. The cat and kittens were running wild and no one in the area claimed them. Olson took them in, finding homes for two of the kittens and keeping Chip, Nick and their mother.
“People just need to start taking care of their pets,” Olson said. That’s why she brought Chip and Nick in to be neutered. Along with the operation, the cats were microchipped. If Hegstrom-Olson had brought the tabby to the animal hospital, she would have found out the cat belonged to Olson through the microchip information. But the paper collar, similar to a wristband from the fair, sped the process up. Hegstrom-Olson said it felt really good that so many others helped search for Nick.
“It’s really hard to find people like that,” she said. The three women have become friends since the incident, sharing calls and Facebook communication.
For Breitzmann, who has also had a hand in reuniting a lost dog with its owner and two stray cats with forever homes, Nick’s story highlights the importance of caring for what appear to be stray animals.
“I was glad to be a part of Nick’s homecoming along with my neighbors,” she said. “Never give up hope when you’ve lost your pet.”