Missing Goleta cat reunited with family two months after running off during a ‘pee break’
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A missing Goleta, California cat has been reunited with her family two months after running off during a ‘pee break.’ The family had been on their way to visit family in Banning when Bella, an eight-year-old longhaired beauty ran off.

Bella (photo courtesy San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus)

After being on her own since December 7 in an area that has plenty of predators, Bella has been reunited with Randy Hahka and his wife Jan at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus. Randy said in an interview with KEYT News that he now regrets allowing Bella out of the vehicle.

San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus posted Bella’s story on their Facebook page

“FRIDAY, FEB. 8, 2019 – A skinny cat discovered in Banning this week was near death, but got the necessary care to make a comeback.

“And Bella’s survival story is amazing, considering she survived two months on her own in an area that has plenty of predators. Clearly, this was not a fun adventure for a domesticated, 8-year-old cat from Goleta.

screenshot from YouTube video

So how did Bella end up in Banning? Her owners were en route from their Santa Barbara-area home to Phoenix and, well, they wanted to give her a short break to urinate. Then Bella decided she would take a stroll into a culvert underneath Interstate 10.

Recalling that fateful day, owner Randy Hahka said he regrets letting Bella out to pee. And he tried everything to get her out of the culvert. After two hours, he was forced to go because he was heading to Phoenix to assist his mother with important doctor’s appointments. He and his wife contacted Riverside County Animal Services hoping for help.

On Wednesday (Feb. 6), help came from an unlikely source. A young man, an employee at Coyne Powersports, a motorcycle shop on West Ramsey Street near North 22nd Street. The man discovered the emaciated cat and was so moved by her condition on a breezy cold day, he took off his jacket and bundled the feline.

Animal Services Officer Carra Mathewson showed up and he handed her the cat. “The cat was so bad off,” Officer Mathewson said. She discovered the cat had a microchip, so she said she wanted to give it a chance. “It was suffering and on the verge of death. I rushed to the shelter, but I honestly didn’t think she’d make the trip.”

She did survive the drive. But it was a minor miracle. Bella was in critical condition. She could not stand on her own and her temperature was so low the veterinary team members could not get a reading on the thermometer.

Veterinary Dr. Sara Strongin, Registered Veterinary Technician Pamela Gates and their colleagues provided Bella heat, food and fluids through an IV. The cat entered the shelter at four pounds, half her body weight.

“She was too weak to sit up, stand, or walk, but when we put wet food in front of her, she shoveled her face right into it,” Dr. Strongin said. “She’s still got a way to go, but she surprised us with how quickly she responded to treatment.”

While this is a happy ending for Bella being reunited with her family, I have to ask myself why it happened in the first place. It’s a very bad idea to allow a cat outside a vehicle in an unfamiliar (and scary for the cat) area.

Thankfully, Bella survived and had a microchip but none of this had to happen. If you must travel a long distance with your cat, use a pet carrier lined with puppy pads or bring along a few old towels.

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Missing Goleta cat reunited with family two months after running off during a ‘pee break’ — 3 Comments

  1. Exactly Elisa. Cats aren’t dogs. You can’t let them go on a pee break like that. As I read this I couldn’t believe they did that. I assumed maybe “they” took a break and the cat bolted from the car despite their control, but they had none. It was tantamount to abandonment, and indeed they ended up having to drive away, leaving her to die. The cat’s survival instinct is to hide, which prevented her from going to them but was probably what saved her from being eaten. This is a good example of how important it is to train your cat daily to answer to their name, so they come to you. 2 months, 4 pounds, my god…

    • P.S. I don’t know why they said she was 4 pounds when the scale read 5. Still, loosing 3 pounds in 2 months means she didn’t find anything to eat and was lucky to still be alive…

    • All I could think of is they must be 20 years old and no experience with cats. We always put a towel wrapped in a puppy pad in our carrier when we go to the vet with a cat. We don’t even go to those mobile vaccination clinics because a lot of cats are lost at them. We pay the extra few dollars and have the vet do it or we purchase the injections and give them at home. The only one the vet has to give is rabies.

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