Two years ago, a kind soul in Oakland – whose name I'm withholding to protect her privacy - adopted a homeless orange male tabby cat that kept coming to her door and named him Red. Red had been living in a nearby feral cat colony, and it's unusual for a cat past the kitten stage to be tame enough to be adoptable. But not Red.
Last week, she found out why. She took him to the Fix Our Ferals spay/neuter clinic in Richmond, where they discovered he had not only been neutered already, he had a microchip. Clearly, he had once been someone else's kitty.
But whose? They did an Internet search for the microchip and came up empty. So Michelle Jewell, the clinic manager, called the microchip company, and they told her the chip had never been registered. All they had was the name of the animal hospital that inserted it.
Michelle called the hospital, and they gave her the name of the first owner, who lived only a few blocks away from the new owner.
She told Michelle that Red – whose original name was Tego – had escaped from her house six years ago, just two days after she moved in. And being new to the neighborhood, he didn't know where to go. He was lucky to find that feral cat colony. She had no idea he was living only a few blocks away all this time.
Michelle put the two women together, and the new owner handed Red – or Tego - over. She was sad to give him up, but she knew he would be happiest with his original mom.
Moral: It's not enough to get your dog or cat microchipped. You have to take the final step and register it.
If you'd like to support Fix Our Ferals' lifesaving mission, you can donate online at fixourferals.org or send a check to P.O. box 13083, Berkeley CA 94712. They're an all-volunteer group; so if you'd like to help, call 510-215-9300.
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Meanwhile, there's good news from Berkeley: Darling Flower Shop finally has a new cat, a tiny grey-and-white kitten.
The shop had been without a cat since this time last year, when the previous kitty, named Kitty, died. Owners Jay and Barbara Touriel missed her too much to even think of getting another one.
But last week Jay got a call from Walter Griffin, a friend of his in the Berkeley Lions Club, who had a family of feral cats living in his back yard. One of the kittens, the runt of the litter, had been abandoned by the mother and left to die. Walter nursed her back to health and then called Barbara and Jay.
They went over to see her and instantly fell in love. They named her Sweetie – and no name was ever more appropriate – and moved her into the flower shop, which she promptly took over.
Sweetie loves everybody – the employees, the customers, the local letter carrier, everybody. But her heart really belongs to Barbara and Jay, and the feeling is mutual. Her favorite pastime is riding around on Jay's shoulders or inside the bib of Barbara's smock.
Welcome, Sweetie. You have some mighty big paw prints to fill, but I know you're more than up to the job.