By Elisa Black-Taylor
Tom is a 7-year-old red tabby and white cat, owned by Jason and Allison Miller and their daughter Lily. On June 11, the family was forced to flee the Black Forest wildfires in their Colorado Springs home and stay with Allison’s parents until the situation was under control.
The family only had enough time to gather Tom, their two dogs and a turtle before leaving. There was a problem at Allison’s parents home, coming in the form of a resident cat, who hissed at Tom. So Tom was moved into the basement until friends offered to allow Tom to take up residence in their barn until the Miller’s could return home.
Tom escaped and disappeared, and the family feared the worst. There were reports of coyotes in the area, and no trees to offer protection for the cat. Allison had a feeling Tom was still out there, alive and trying to get home. Sue Rademacher, a friend of the family, put up fliers, and on Sunday they were contacted by a neighbor. Tom was under her shed and had traveled about six miles through the fire damaged terrain to get to his home on Snowdrift Lane. The Millers tried for two days to get Tom to show himself, but he didn’t respond to their calls or to the treats they were offering him.
Just before the family was about to leave on Monday, they finally found each other. First Tom meowed, then stuck his little head out from under the shed. Tom had lost a lot of weight during the month he was gone, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. After plopping down in front of his family, Tom was taken to their new temporary home, where he’s catching up on his eating and sleeping.
In an interview with The Gazette, Jason said Tom’s desire and determination to return home was inspirational.
“Just the fact that he made it for seven years, and then made it through the fire, and then struggled for a month traveling through the trees. It gives us a reason to sit back and smile. This is what matters. The connections. His journey brought us to tears and smiles. He did all he could to get back.”
No one can say cats aren’t resourceful, intelligent and very attached to the families who love them. Tom and another kitten had been adopted by the family from the Rockin’ B Feed and Supply. The other kitten had died, but Tom was a survivor. Jason admits he wasn’t into cats, but the sweet tabby eventually grew on him. Jason explains how he fell in love with Tom.
“He’s a big old sweet tom cat. He always nags me until I rub his belly. One time he lined up three decapitated mice at the same time as a gift at the front door.”
There have been several stories of survival this year (one example), where a cat or dog has defeated all odds to reunite with the family they love. Most likely, Tom used his mousing skills to survive. Readers, this should make for an interesting discussion. Who do you think is more intelligent at survival: cats or dogs?