A cat tale: 90 days in Keystone Canyon
Post-surgical cat back home after car jump – 3 months later
Valdez Star photo
Pamela Abbott gets her first look at Cinderella, who was waiting patiently to be released from the cat trap.
A young cat that was lost in Keystone Canyon for three months after it jumped out of its owner’s vehicle that was traveling at a speed of 55 miles per hour at the time – a day after it had spaying surgery – was reunited with its owner last week.
“It’s a miracle,” a teary-eyed Pam Abbott said after laying eyes on her long-lost pet. “That’s all I can say.”
Cinderella’s story really begins last December when Abbott brought the kitten home as a gift for her 5-year-old daughter, Rylee.
“I got her for Christmas and gave her to her Christmas Eve,” Abbott said. “That’s the right cat, I can tell by the markings.”
Rylee and the rest of the family grew to love Cinderella, a Siamese, tabby, long-haired mix. At age nine months, the family brought the small cat to Valdez to have her spayed.
On the trip home, she vanished in Keystone Canyon.
Abbott said the cat, which had the surgery the day before, got out of the cat carrier while they were leaving Valdez. One moment the cat was on her shoulder as they drove through Keystone Canyon, the next minute the cat was simply gone.
They pulled over and searched the Canyon, calling for her, for as long as they could, but eventually had to resume the trip home without Cinderella.
Little Rylee was heartbroken as only a young girl can be. Pam and her mother Julie were not so happy either. The family – which has other cats – pamper their kitties.
Desperate, the family contacted both radio stations in Valdez and ran ads in the Valdez Star. Nothing.
The young cat seemed to disappear off the face of the earth, and most who remembered the ads and flyers of the missing cat figured she fallen prey to any number of predators in the canyon – if she’d survived the jump from the moving vehicle at all.
Enter Valdez man Frank Cook.
Cook was returning home from a day-long trip when he thought he spotted the cat near the old railroad tunnel on the outskirts of Keystone Canyon as he wearily made the last few miles home at around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, October 14.
“When I came around the corner, something ran across the road that took me a minute to figure out what it wasn’t,” Cook said.
Early the next morning he revisited the scene.
“I went back with my son Henry,” Cook said, and talked to some of the road construction crew. “The lead car driver mentioned they’d seen the cat.”
Cook then visited KCHU radio station, where he remembered hearing pleas for Cinderella’s return for many weeks after she’d disappeared. He remembered the cat’s distinctive markings and was positive the cat he saw in the canyon was indeed Cinderella.
Here is where the Revis family enters the picture.
As fate would have it, Cook spotted Valdez man Steve Revis driving by the radio station on Pioneer Drive. Revis and his wife - who just happens to be Yours Truly - are well-known cat lovers. Cook sped out from KCHU, stopped us in the street and asked that we retrieve the ad that ran in the Valdez Star last July, as it had a photograph of the cat and more importantly, the phone number of the owners.
Steve Revis took the matter to heart.
After finishing up his business in town, he hurried out to Keystone Canyon and spread cat treats near the tunnel where Cook said he saw the missing feline.
“I’d been out there in the canyon repeatedly calling the cat’s name to no avail,” in the weeks after the cat’s disappearance, he said. He became revitalized after Cook said he’s seen the cat.
Sunday morning, he set a cat trap he borrowed from the Valdez Animal Shelter. He checked it diligently. By Monday morning, he spotted the cat but had no luck trapping it. But he too was convinced the small but stealthy kitty was indeed Cinderella.
“I couldn’t stand the thought of that cat being out there,” he said. “Immanent death with the winter. It was the last chance to catch the cat.”
Crews working on the Richardson Highway got in on the action. They’d report sightings of the kitty to Revis as he’d go to check to see if the obviously hungry cat had been trapped. By Tuesday morning, he barrowed two more cat traps from the shelter. He left a message with the owners that he was sure he knew where their pet was, and was earnestly working to trap it for them.
Late Tuesday afternoon he hit pay dirt.
“I was tickled to death I caught it,” he said. “Goal!”
A somewhat scruffy, skinny but still pretty kitty meowed from the confines of one of the three traps he’d set. He called the office of the Valdez Star, asking staff to make another attempt to contact Cinderella’s owners to let them know he had possession of the cat.
As fate would have it, the owners had wasted no time when they heard the message Cinderella had been spotted alive and well. They’d sped to Valdez from Chitina and were also waiting at the construction zone’s one-lane traffic stop, trying to get through.
Abbott and her mother Julie followed Revis to Valdez Veterinary Clinic to have Cinderella checked out.
“That is incredible!” Kelly Hawkins, Valdez veterinarian , “Except for being thin, she looks in darn good shape.”
Cinderella pranced about the room, rubbing against the numerous hands proffered for petting. She purred and sniffed around the office as if she did so every day of her life.
“I wonder where the heck you lived all that time,” Hawkins said as Cinderella good-naturedly allowed him to palpitate her tummy, listen to her heart during a long-overdue checkup. “I’m just surprised you found enough to eat.”
Cinderella was none the worse for wear. She still had a single stitch in her tummy from the surgery she’d had in July, which Hawkins easily removed.
“She got fluffier but she didn’t get fatter,” Abbott said, “Now I can come to Valdez without feeling guilty.”
Valdez Star photo
Dr. Kelly Hawkins examines Cinderella after her three-months of living in the railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon.
Incredible as it may seem, she’d only used a couple of her allotted nine lives.
Abbotts mother Julie pointed to a higher power, as she’d encouraged Rylee to pray for Cinderella’s return in the ensuing months.
“Every once in awhile she’d say mom, grandma, I miss Cinderella,” she said.
The family said they’ve been having hard times in recent weeks and Cinderella’s return home has helped restore faith – especially a little girl’s - in miracles.
“This is her Cinderella,” Abbott said.