PORT TOWNSEND — On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Natalia Guevara took Honey the cat to her granddaughter’s house for a visit.
Natali, 8, had insisted on spending time with the big orange tabby.
Both were horrified when Honey, a rescue cat of about 6 years old, vanished. She’d slipped out the front door into the 21st Street neighborhood.
Every day, Guevara searched the streets, trails and woods around Natali’s place. By December she joined the Jefferson County WA Lost and Found Pets page on Facebook, posting a photo of Honey lounging on her car’s dashboard.
Early last week, when temperatures dipped below freezing, Guevara thought of Honey out there. She had posted fliers. She had been praying. There was no sign of her cat.
On Thomas Street near 15th Street half a mile away, another woman noticed a new cat in the neighborhood. Laura Bell, herself a lover of cats and dogs, believes there is no such thing as a “stray.”
Felines that suddenly appear have lost their way, Bell said, leaving somebody bereft.
This unfamiliar cat was sticking around — for a few weeks now — because Bell’s neighbor had begun to feed her. No one in the neighborhood belonged to the animal, so Bell went to the Jefferson County Humane Society to borrow a humane trap.
The first time the mystery cat entered the trap, she got out before the door closed, so Bell wasn’t too optimistic about capturing her.
But on her second try last Tuesday, the cat touched the lever beside the food inside the enclosure, triggering the door to shut tight.
“This cat would look me in the eye,” Bell said. “You could tell she wanted to trust me, but she was afraid.”
Bell couldn’t keep her; she already has her own cats Cleo, Buzzy and Gracie, plus a Border collie, Ruby.
She took her to the humane society in hopes that she’d be adopted. The organization runs an open-admission shelter, meaning it does not euthanize animals for lack of adequate space. Open by appointment Tuesday through Sunday, the humane society can be reached via HSJCWA.org and 360-385-3292.
Meanwhile, Bell also joined the Jefferson County WA Lost and Found Pets Facebook page. She posted a photo of the cat she’d apprehended, and other members noticed its similarity to Honey.
Yet Guevara couldn’t be reached. In the months since Honey’s disappearance, she’d changed her phone number and wasn’t checking Facebook as much as before.
For the next four nights — including Friday, when a snowstorm blanketed Port Townsend — Honey slept in a warm bed. And thanks to the distinctive black spots on her pink nose, shelter manager Jenny Haynes recognized this refugee.
Months ago, Guevara had come in to the humane society to report Honey missing; Haynes had also seen the lost cat’s picture on Facebook.
Then a friend of Guevara saw Bell’s Facebook post of a cat who looked just like Honey. Guevara was alerted by her friend, who had her new phone number.
On Saturday, Guevara and her granddaughter went to the shelter and found their long-lost cat — a joyous moment, Haynes said.
“After three months, a reunion like that is rare around here, unfortunately. We have a lot of predators,” she said.
“I was amazed she was able to survive,” since Honey had been an indoor cat.
She’d been reportedly a little overweight — but not anymore.
“It’s always worth it to report a pet missing,” said Haynes, or to report an unfamiliar cat in your neighborhood.
Too often pet owners don’t notify the humane society when an animal has disappeared, thinking a predator has gotten it. Honey’s case shows there are happy exceptions.
Bringing pets and their people back together “is one of the best things we can do,” Haynes said. “It’s why we’re all there.”
As for Guevara, she’s enjoying Honey’s company anew.
“She’s my miracle,” she said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or email@example.com.