Eight Lives Later, Family Cat Found in Indonesia


Muffin was a classic case of “failed foster.”

The Phillips family had taken the cat into their Cedar Ridge, Calif., home when she was pregnant, as they had done with many cats from the Nevada County Animal Shelter, and helped her take care of the kittens until they were weaned and ready to find their new homes. But unlike the other cats they had fostered, Muffin worked her way into the hearts of Scott and Monika Phillips and their children, Nikolas and Maja.

Life was proceeding pretty smoothly for the family until Scott, an environmental engineer, got the opportunity of a lifetime: an offer to work for two years at a mine project in northern Sumatra. Early in May, the family packed all their belongings into a shipping container and prepared to take the leap to their new home in Indonesia.

The family had found homes for all their other pets, except for Muffin, who had disappeared shortly before the family left. They assumed she had been “taken” by a coyote that had eaten neighbors’ dogs and hens, and as much as it saddened them, they figured they’d never see the cat again.

But the family got the surprise of their lives when they received a call from the Jakarta port authority, 48 days after they had left their California home: Their container was being inspected, and there was a cat inside.

When the authorities described the trapped cat, they were amazed: it was Muffin! The poor thing was nothing but skin and bones, so weak she couldn’t drink, eat, or even stand up … but she was still breathing.

Muffin was rushed to a pet hospital in Jakarta, where staff began working tirelessly to save her life even before the family had been notified. Scott wasn’t sure exactly where the vet clinic was — I imagine the language barrier and a total lack of area knowledge might have been a bit of a hindrance — but after a week the family tracked down the veterinarian.

“When the kids finally got to visit the hospital, Muffin recognized them immediately and began to knead her blanket and meow,” Scott wrote.

The family visited their brave survivor every day of her month-long stay at the clinic. At last, Muffin started eating and drinking on her own and they were able to take her home.

The family is settling into their new life in Jakarta. The kids are in school, Scott is working at his job in northern Sumatra, and Monika is teaching English as a second language to Kindergartners. Muffin, too, is getting more comfortable with her surroundings; she’s a little bit stronger every day and, much to the family’s relief, she’s even starting to gain weight.

“She doesn’t seem as curious about boxes as she once was,” said Scott.

Hmm. I wonder why.

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