Kindness of Strangers Reunites Cat and Owner

 |  Oct 17th 2011  |   2 Contributions


Karen Hansen cuddles Sammie, who was found thanks to technology and an observant cat colony caretaker. Photo by Pearl Gabel for the New York Daily News

Sammie the cat wandered three miles rather than three thousand miles, but it's still an incredible journey.

Sammie, a 3-year-old black-and-white kitty who is blind in one eye, disappeared a year ago from his home in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. Somehow he managed to navigate Brooklyn's busy streets and find refuge in a colony of cats in Borough Park, about three and a half miles away.

Some people would assume after a week or so that their cat had died and give up hope. But not Sammie's caretaker, Karen Hansen. She made flyers in several languages and posted them all over her neighborhood. People started Facebook pages and posted his photos on the social networking site.

It's so hard to lose a cat and have no idea what became of it. When my beloved Sinad escaped from my rural home five years ago, I looked everywhere. I beat the bushes all over my wooded property. I examined pawprints in riverbeds. I posted flyers. I called all the animal shelters and vet hospitals. Everywhere I went, I carried a pillowcase with me in case I found her injured or I found her remains.

I must have walked miles in my search. I never did find her, though — and eventually I had to accept that she had been taken by the coyotes that prowled around the boundaries of my home. I was heartbroken: my little soulmate had almost certainly died, and I felt like a terrible caretaker for having let her slip out the door. She was a brave kitty, and it turned out that she was too brave for her own good.

Fortunately, there were no hungry coyotes in Hansen's neighborhood. There were, however, plenty of other dangers: hungry dogs, traffic, mean people, and even other cats. But Hansen refused to stop believing Sammie was still alive — even though she received occasional reports of cats matching his description that proved to be false alarms.

It turns out she was right to keep believing. A week ago, Terri Vanzo, who takes care of a colony of cats in Borough Park, saw Sammie's photo on Facebook. When she saw that he was blind in one eye, she knew she had the right kitty.

Vanzo called Hansen and told her about the black-and-white cat in her neighborhood. Of course, Hansen didn't get her hopes up: the previous cases of mistaken identity had taught her that much.

"But when I got out of the car, the first thing I said was, 'That's my cat. That's Sammie.' It was amazing. My face hurt from smiling," Hansen told the New York Daily News.

Now Sammie is safe in Hansen's arms — and hopefully he's been cured of his traveling bug. Hansen says she was amazed by all the support she got, and that people she didn't even know stepped up to help reunite cat and caretaker.

I guess the moral of Sammie's story is that sometimes you are rewarded with a happy ending if you refuse to give up hope.

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