Friday, November 19, 2010

Cat makes ‘incredible journey’

Himalayan mix treks 23 miles to get home


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Margaret and Bill Tormey hold their cat, Little Big Man, at their former home in Bellevue, to which the cat returned five weeks after having escaped from a relative’s Ketchum apartment. The couple said the cat had never been farther from home than the vet’s office since they bought him as a kitten. Photo by David N. Seelig

Bill and Margaret Tormey thought they'd never see their cat again when it escaped from their niece's condominium on Sept. 30. Now, five weeks and 23 miles later, the cat has found its way back home.

The couple said the cat, a Himalayan-Persian-rag doll mix named Little Big Man, escaped from a Parkside unit in Ketchum to return to his former home south of Bellevue off Glendale Road. Though Bill said he thought the cat could have made the journey when he heard it had escaped, Margaret was more skeptical.

"Bill said he had dreams about the cat coming back home, and I said, 'No, that's too far!'" Margaret said. "Next thing you know, we're at the old house and the cat is knocking at the door."

Margaret said she and Bill returned to their old house near Bellevue on Monday, Nov. 15, as they were still in the process of moving. Suddenly, the couple heard a noise, and when they turned, they saw the cat pawing at the door.

The couple had given Little Big Man to their niece, Cristalle, prior to a move from Bellevue to a new house in Deer Creek, near Hailey. The landlord was OK with the couple's two black labs, but wasn't as willing to bend the no-pet policy for a cat, so Cristalle offered to take it in.

"He seemed happy, and we got along, but you could tell he really wanted to be outside," Cristalle said. "I was clueless about cats. I didn't know anything."

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So when the cat escaped early one Friday morning, Cristalle said she figured he must have been hiding somewhere. When she couldn't find it, she said, she thought there was no way it would make it back home.

"I thought, he's got to be running back to Bellevue," she said. "But he's going to die. He's a designer kitty, no front claws."

The cat was declawed as a kitten, Bill said, because he had a tendency to scratch at people's legs. He added that the lack of front claws didn't keep him from being the best mouse-killer in the neighborhood, and he was used to hunting around the couple's 20-acre property.

"I always wanted him to be indoors, but he never wanted to," Margaret said. "We left him up to his own judgement."

"He'll go out and hunt all day long," Bill said. "But he's never gone more than 200 yards from the house."

The Tormeys bought the cat from a friend when it was 6 weeks old, and Bill said it had never been farther afield than the vet's office, let alone out of the south valley. But the "little big man" is none the worse for wear after his journey, say the Tormeys.

"All he had were two muddy feet," Bill said. "He was a little skinnier, but not much."

"There were no marks on him," Margaret added. "I would have loved to have been with him, to see how he'd journeyed, how he knew how to cross the road and defend himself."

Despite his determination to return to his Bellevue home, Little Big Man appears to be content at his new home in Deer Creek, Bill said. The landlord has allowed the cat to stay, reportedly impressed with its tenacity. Bill said he thinks it's more likely the cat was trying to find the family rather than just return to a familiar place.

"He knew he was home because we were there," Bill said. "He knows where we're at and that's where he wants to be. It's kind of cool."

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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