The cat came back. But it was not the very next day.
It took six years.
Goose the orange and white cat went missing up on Promontory back in 2010. This week he turned up. In less than a week he has been returned to the loving hands of his owner Christina Bartha, and her family.
The cat was lost, and when Sue Kilfoyle contacted Bartha to say she thought she had found him, it was a huge surprise to the family. They had lost hope of ever finding him.
The 14-year-old cat was emaciated, malnourished and dehydrated. He was skin and bones but he couldn’t eat or drink. He was at three per cent body fat, down from 14 lbs.
Goose suddenly appeared last Friday in the driveway at Sue Kilfoyle’s place. Her daughter called her to tell her, alarmed at the cat’s condition. She put him safely in the garage and tried to get him to drink some water.
“I’ve rescued animals before, and we’re big animal lovers,” Kilfoyle said.
It was Goose’s tattoo that ultimately helped them track down his owners.
Jill Robertson, an animal rescue advocate, who helps administer the Lost and Found Chilliwack page, quickly made contact, and helped reunite Goose with Bartha.
She also posted a note on Facebook to encourage community donations, since the story was so popular on social media.
“Jill told me if only someone else would have done what I did, to try to find his owners, he would have been home a lot sooner. But we figure somebody must have been feeding him along the way,” said Kilfoyle.
“He’s a very friendly cat, and as soon as you sit down, he comes to sit on your lap.”
But just because he was found, it didn’t mean he was out of the woods quite yet.
“They’re such a sweet family. Goose deserved to make it,” she said.
One vet told Bartha she should consider putting him down since it was unlikely that his health would recover.
Instead, she went for a second opinion.
Goose was in critical condition, but because his breathing wasn’t laboured, the second vet figured he wasn’t in total organ failure, and might make it.
After the first treatment of IV fluids, the cat’s eyes started perking up. Too weak to stand, he rolled over and licked a little soft food.
“That was my tangible sign,” Bartha said. “I told him, Goose, I’m going to fight for you. You were lost and found, and you deserve a chance.”
He’s been at the Cheam View Veterinary Hospital receiving care since Saturday, before being declared well enough and ready to go home on Wednesday.
Goose had been suffering with a total bowel obstruction and had to have several golf-ball sized stools removed.
The Bartha family with five children were struggling with the expensive bill. So they took to social media to see if anyone had a desire to help.
“I think there were actually three miracles involved in this story,” Bartha said. “One miracle was that Goose was found alive after all this time. The second was that the community really came together to help. And the third is that Goose is going to pull through.”
The community rallied, and more than 30 people chipped in for his care. The donations dropped off at Cheam View totalled more than $500 to pay off the $750 vet bill for Goose the Cat. He was on IV fluids, antibiotics and was given potassium.
“I relied on people to help, and their hearts were in the right place,” said Bartha. “The vet said this cat was most likely a saint in another life.”
Bartha and her husband adopted Goose when they were first married and she was in nursing school. They called him Goose because of his penchant for a particular ceramic goose they had received from her in-laws as a wedding present.
“Every morning he would wrap his body around the ceramic goose. Like a companion. So we called him Goose.”
He was with them for eight years, before they moved to a new house, and the cat kept escaping and returning to their old home.
He did it three times before they lost him for good. He was spotted several years ago, but they gave up hope of finding him.
“The neighbours loved him as a community cat. He was always that kind of cat: a survivor.”
That spurred her on.
“I had to do everything I could. He had a second chance, and it was a dream come true. It’s a happy ending for sure.”
She has a message for all those who chipped in with their kindness and generosity.
“This couldn’t have happened without your financial support and care towards our loving Goose. We thank you and one day when Goose is ready to pass, he will go with dignity, respect, and joy because of the gift he was offered today.”
Wondering what to do if you have lost or found a pet? Here are some contacts Chilliwack SPCA (604-823-6612), CARE Centre animal control (604-795-4638), and Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven (604-794-7233).