“I was very heartbroken by the disappearance of this cat,” said Moore, who had lovingly cared for Harriet for three years after adopting her from a shelter as a kitten. “I really bonded with that cat.”
Eventually, Moore, 57, came to terms with the sad loss.
Then, on September 19, his phone rang. The caller was from an animal shelter and said she had Moore’s cat.
“My cat?” Moore replied, confused.
“We have your cat, Harriet,” the caller replied, saying the cat was at a shelter in Hayden.
“You must have the wrong number,” Moore said. “And where is Hayden, California?”
The worker told her that she had scanned Harriet’s microchip and found Moore’s information. She said she was calling from Hayden Idaho — about 17 hours by car and more than 1,000 miles from Moore’s ranch.
“I was completely shocked,” Moore said.
Vicky Nelson, director of development at the Kootenai Humane Society, where the cat was dropped off, was also baffled. She said Harriet was found wandering around the small town of Hayden, and a Good Samaritan found her and brought her to the shelter, which is changing its name to Companions Animal Center.
“I wish she could talk because I’d like to know how the hell that cat got all the way to Idaho,” Moore said.
Harriet’s whereabouts and methods of survival for nearly a decade remain a mystery, but Moore and Nelson have a few theories. The most likely explanation is that after Harriet wandered off, someone picked her up in California, kept her as a pet, and then moved to Idaho, where she wandered off again. .
They learned that they were dating the same man. They dumped him, took a vacation together.
“Either someone was taking good care of her or she knew exactly where to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Nelson said, adding that Harriet is a healthy cat.
Nelson added that his theory about Harriet’s travels was pure conjecture.
“It’s one of those things where you wish you had a little camera inside of them where you see where they’ve been, how they survived and who they were with,” Nelson said.
She said Harriet is a case study in the importance of microchipping.
“Even people who have been here for 30 years, I don’t think anyone has seen an animal that’s as testimonial to the microchip as Harriet,” Nelson said.
Moore – after recovering from the shock that her sweet Harriet was still alive – asked her brother, Steve Swarts, who lives near Lewiston, Idaho, if he would pick up Harriet from the shelter and take her home to California. But she also realized that Harriet had been separated from her for so long, and the kitten, now 13, may not even remember her.
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Local media reported the story on Friday, and the same day Maureen Wright, one of the shelter volunteers, saw Harriet waiting in a cage at the shelter. She immediately wanted to take her home.
Wright, 75, lives on a mountain ridge in Hauser, Idaho, where she typically raises older cats and dogs for the rest of their lives. Senior pets are difficult to adopt, so the shelter provides medical care and supplies while the adoptive parent provides love and housing.
With Moore’s blessing, Wright brought Harriet home last weekend, where she joined four senior dogs and four outdoor foster cats who live in a heated ‘catio’. About a month ago, Wright’s elderly indoor cat, Yin Yang, passed away and she was craving the company of a cat that could live with her indoors.
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Sure enough, Wright quickly fell in love with Harriet, whom she renamed Isis after the Egyptian goddess. The cat is settling into its new home and gets along very well with the foster dogs.
“She’s beautiful, majestic and just an absolute lover,” she said. “So she has a home with me for the rest of her life. She’s off the market.
Moore, CEO of Dumont Printing, said Harriet’s reappearance in her life brought back memories of when the cat lived with her at the ranch, where Harriet split her time between the barn and the house. Moore often brought Harriet to work with her, and her co-workers were sad when the cat went missing in 2014, she said.
When Harriet was found, Moore thought she would send her to live with her 84-year-old mother, Barbara Swarts, rather than be a barn cat with her nine horses and five roping steers. Moore said she was happy the cat now named Isis had a new home and didn’t have to deal with the stress of travel.
“I said to my husband, ‘She definitely has more than nine lives, that’s for sure,'” Moore said.
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