Miracles do happen. In this case it involves a tale of two curious kitties that couldn’t stay put. Mike and Erik, Tracie and Frank Surran’s two black and white cats, came up missing earlier this month from her home on Tollgate outside Weston. A frantic search ensued once their absence was realized.
Adding to their anxiety, Tracie said only one out of every 50 lost cats are actually recovered, a statistic she gleaned from a poster at the Blue Mountain Humane Society.
A private transport company delivered beds to the Surran home from an area furniture store. Based in Tri-Cities, Speedy Delivery personnel set up the beds, then removed the empty boxes.
“They pulled away and the kids and I left for town,” Tracie said. We saw the Speedy Delivery truck at the intersection by Wal-Mart in College Place and waved, knowing that someone else was receiving their new furniture. After town, we arrived home and I put the kiddoes to bed.”
Frank arrived home in the wee hours from his shift as an engineer for the railroad, but didn’t receive the usual feline greeting.
“Where are the kitties?” he asked at the breakfast table. “I gasped for air as his next question felt like it was posed in slow motion, ‘did they get on the furniture truck?’ ”
“My heart stopped. Instantly their absence hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew in a second that they were gone,” Tracie said.
The Surrans have special-needs foster children and provide respite care. To ensure the cats weren’t locked in somewhere, the family checked their out-buildings, barns and greenhouse. Then Tracie asked Speedy Delivery if its driver saw the cats — the answer was no — and called Walker’s Furniture seeking delivery locations that followed their own on the route. One was on Eighth Street in Milton-Freewater, the other on Sixth Street in College Place.
Meanwhile, Frank and kids completed an exhaustive search of farms, neighbors and outbuildings.
They then focused on the Milton-Freewater site and Tracie posted their story and photos of the vagabond cats on several Facebook pages. “We were on many different social pages and it went viral,” she said.
“The response was instant. The words of encouragement, the offers for assistance, the overwhelming amount of eyes we had looking for these kitties was far more than just amazing. It was humbling.” Reward posters went up around town and online.
At roughly 6:40 p.m., a young woman from College Place called Tracie to report that a friendly black cat tinged with a bit of white had appeared in her back yard.
“It took us an hour to drive from our location and the anxiety was running high,” Tracie recalled. “When she opened the door, her and her friends’ smiles lit up the room. My husband and I did not have high hopes as this was more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack — needles are immobile while cats are always on the move.”
“Kitty, kitty,” Frank called, “and sure enough, it was our cat, Michael. I collapsed to my knees in disbelief and all of the harbored emotions came pouring out in this woman’s front room. I grasped that kitty and wouldn’t let go.”
The College Place woman’s boyfriend saw the Surran post on Facebook and they made the connection. I told my boyfriend about the cat we found and he suggested we call you’.
“If it were not for Facebook and this digital world spreading the news, the likelihood of recovery would have been slim. We stayed in her neighborhood until long into the dark calling for our second missing kitty.”
She received more route block numbers and street names from the delivery truck driver.
Meanwhile, the outpouring on Facebook continued. Folks online called Speedy Delivery, others called Walker’s asking for further assistance.
“One family, a parent and child, touched my heart as she typed that her little daughter was so disappointed that they could not find my kitty.”
The morning of Feb. 17, they went to the farthest delivery location. She spoke to a man standing in the driveway who was there when furniture was delivered. He said his wife was feeding a black cat.
“I yelled ‘kitty-kitty’ everywhere in that special pet voice I use for them.” No kitty yet, so they gave neighbors their contact information. They updated Facebook and people posted updates on their behalf.
At 6:38 that night the man in Walla Walla called them and said they were holding onto the cat. An hour’s drive later, Tracie walked into their home and called for Erik, who appeared as summoned. “I was more than awestruck,” she said.
Tracie said often the special needs foster children they host have never bonded or had a genuine attachment. “These kitties have been packed to and fro, sat with, cried on and slept on the pillows of the children. These kitties have walked with, played with, and loved on many children that have come through our doors. To us, they are an (essential) part of our family and a blessed part of the healing structure that we provide in our home.”
Erik and Mike received their names from one of the foster kids who didn’t speak much because of his disabilities.
Her gratitude toward the encouragement, motivation and hope imparted by the Facebook community is high. Without their help, she said, “I am afraid that Mike and Erik would still be trying to make their way around in an unfamiliar world.”
She hopes in the future the delivery company will make a practice of checking its trucks to prevent animals or small children from crawling inside and being carted off.