By Elisa Black-Taylor
A lost cat named Mata Hairi will soon be reunited with her owner, more than ten months after becoming a lost cat, then a cross country hitchhiker. Her story began last September.
MATA HAIRI: SAVED THEN LOST
Mati Hairi, along with her brother Creto, were part of a five kitten litter who had been abandoned on the porch of a neighbor. Ron Buss took over the task of raising the litter of 2-week-old kittens. He fed them with an eyedropper and later gave them ground up meat. When you raise kittens from that early age, you become their “mom” in all senses of the word. Ron found homes for all of the kittens except two, which he decided to adopt permanently.
Mata Hari grew into a beautiful white cat with dark gray, tabby patches who was always loyal to her adopted “mother.”
So it was heartbreaking when three years later, Mata Hairi wasn’t waiting on the table outside his home when Ron arrived home from work one night. This was on September 1, 2012. On the second day of her absence Ron began to worry. It wasn’t normal for the cat to be gone very long at a time without knowing where she was, as Mata Hairi had a three-block area of the neighborhood she called her territory.
MATA HAIRI: THE HITCHHIKER
Mata Hairi was soon found by Michael King, who had been homeless since 2003. He spotted the cat under a café table in the pouring rain and something told him to grab her and take her with him. Michael later said “I see cats all the time,” King said. “I don’t pick up cats. I don’t want a cat, especially a full-grown one.” She had one eye that was puffy from fighting, and she was thin and frail. Something inside of his told Michael to rescue this cat. Even though a cat was the last thing a hitchhiker needs. Michael had been raised with cats since he was 17 and knew how to nurse one back to health.
Michael also listed Mata Hairi on Craigslist and carried her around the Portland area for three weeks trying to find her home. Sadly, Craigslist was the one place Ron Buss didn’t check for his missing feline.
This began the journey of a lifetime for Mata Hairi, who Michael called Tabor after the name of the café where she was found. They hitchhiked to California, back to Portland then on to Montana to visit King’s foster father. People stopped the pair on the streets to take photos of them. Especially after they saw Tabor riding on top of Michael’s backpack.
Michael kept the cat on a 10-foot leash, and also had a carrier so she could go inside when she got tired. Together they traveled 3,600 miles. Other than perhaps a half mile of the journey, this cross country traveling feline was carried around instead of walking. During her ten months away from home, Mata Hairi visited Yosemite National Park, the headwaters of Sacramento River and various hot springs.
As it turns out, this was Mata Hairi’s second road trip. She once jumped into the trunk of a neighbor’s car and went on a ride all the way to Vancouver, Washington. When the neighbor opened his trunk, the cat escaped into the woods and hid. That escape kept Mata Hairi away from home for six months until she was taken to a vet and Ron was contacted through the microchip info.
FINDING HOME AND LOSING A FRIEND
Chances are Mata Hairi (AKA Tabor) would have remained just another missing cat statistic, if not for her microchip. Michael and his foster father, Walter Ebert, recently took the cat to a Helena Veterinary Service for a checkup. When asked about Tabor, the men told vet tech Maddie Parker the cat had been found in Portland several months ago. It was during the examination conducted by her and Dr. Bruce Armstrong that the microchip was found. Parker and Dr. Armstrong both agreed the cat was in amazing shape and had been well cared for.
Ron had already given up hope of ever seeing Mata Hairi again. Imagine his amazement when he got the call saying his cat had been found.
Now plans are being made for Mata Hairi to return home. Michael says he will miss her, as she will lick his face to wake him up, or meow at him when he leaves the room. He wishes he could have taken Mata Hairi to a vet sooner to scan for a microchip and for a checkup. Being homeless, he just didn’t have the money.
I would imagine the two men will stay in touch over this vagabond cat who has brought them together. I’m not sure whether the moral to this story is to have your cat microchipped or to be very cautious if your cat is an escape artist.
- Sources: Helenair.com and Yahoo News.
- Picture: this is a small version of the original and its use does not impact on the commercial aspects of the use of the picture.