Fluffy Ayers (pictured, right) is one lucky tabby. For three months, she deftly avoided becoming lunch for Yellowstone’s predators, and with the help of some caring people in Montana, found her way back to her family in Houston, Texas this week.
Her adventure began on Aug. 1, while the family was trailer camping in at a West Yellowstone campground. When Fluffy failed to return, the family figured shed been caught by a coyote. The three young girls in the family — 6-year-old twins Tamara and Evelyn and 8-year-old Marisa, were understandably upset about losing their cat. Tamara in particular had been very upset, mom Elizabeth Ayers said. Every day shed say, Mom, is Fluffy coming back?
Somewhat miraculously, Fluffy was alive, despite the coyotes, foxes, owls, hawks, eagles and grizzly bears that frequent the area. Rick Armstrong, a West Yellowstone School guidance counselor, agreed that it was amazing, Theres plenty of predators that would want to eat a little cat.
Neighbors at Horse Butte, about a mile from the campground, noticed the stray cat at the end of the summer and started leaving food out for her. Although Fluffy had a harness and tag, she was so skittish that no one could get close enough to catch her and read the tag. She apparently survived by catching birds and chipmunks, and found shelter in a neighbors garage, where bears had once broken in and left a small hole in the door.
With winter approaching, Armstrongs parents, Norval and Shirley Armstrong, borrowed a live trap and successfully captured Fluffy. Armstrong picked up the trap, brought it in the house, and read the cats tag with the owners phone number.
“Five minutes later, my mother called the people in Houston, Armstrong said. They couldnt believe it. Ayers admitted, “We were sure she was coyote bait. She wasn’t the smarter of our two cats, so we were quite surprised. She has more skills than we expected.”
As soon as she was captured, Fluffy took over the Armstrongs home, climbing on the table, rubbing up against her rescuers and purring up a storm. Armstrong said she was very, very hungry. A kind neighbor, Anne Kinney, a retired Delta Airlines flight attendant, volunteered to fly Fluffy home.
On Nov. 18, Kinney flew with Fluffy to Houston and met Ayers at the airport, who paid the cats vet bill and cabin fee. We were all thrilled when she got home, Ayers said. The girls mobbed Fluffy.
Fluffy is once again joining the familys camping trips around Texas. She doesnt stray far from the trailer. Shes my snuggle-bud, Ayers said. She loves to be held like a baby. She snuggles down and purrs.
I told Elizabeth if you didnt want her, Id keep her in a heartbeat, Kinney recalled. I love animals. Shes a very affectionate kitty.
(No comment from me on what the heck they were doing letting the cat run free in a campground.)
[PHOTO CREDIT: Norval Armstrong]