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News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, December 20, 2018
Cat reunited with owner after seven weeks in storage facility
‘He was skin and bones but incredibly happy to see us’

Safe at home

Houdini safe in the arms of Lowry Thompson, a week after being rescued from a storage facility on the island, where he was trapped since late October.

Photo courtesy of Lowry Thompson

by Anne Berleant

A 150-mile move from Portland to Deer Isle. A cat stowed with a neighbor during packing. A door left open, a vanished cat.

“I assumed he was hiding [or] lost in my Portland apartment building,” Lowry Thompson, the cat’s owner, said. “The residents looked and looked and left food in three different places but the food went totally uneaten. After four weeks, we gave up.”

An indoor rescue cat named Zorba, Thompson at first assumed he was still in the building, but when he wasn’t found following her late October move, thought he might have hopped on the elevator and escaped.

Jump forward to Sunday, December 9. Phil Sirois was in his unit at a Deer Isle storage facility when he heard what sounded like a meow.

A longtime cat owner—“I’ve had 15 or 16 cats that just showed up and stayed, so I’m pretty familiar with their behaviors and vocalizations,” he said—Sirois put his head to the doors of nearby units, calling for the cat.

“I just started talking, and the cat started getting louder and louder,” he recalled.

But checking the storage units on a Sunday night proved impossible. Sirois left a message for the facility’s owner and came back the next morning. The owner had located the cat, who had been moving along the facility’s rafters.

“He was skin and bones but incredibly happy to see us,” Sirois said.

Sirois took the cat to the vet, and a microchip was discovered that identified his owner as living in Portland. A telephone call led to the discovery that Thompson had moved to Deer Isle seven weeks ago.

“Maybe he found a mouse and a puddle, but essentially he had no food or water for those seven weeks,” Thompson said. “It really is totally a miracle.”

Zorba weighed less than five pounds when he arrived at the vet, down from 11 pounds. Now, he is gaining weight, and following Thompson around her house in Deer Isle.

“I’m feeding her twice as much [as usual],” Thompson said. “It took three days and her coat got shiny again and she looked healthier. Now when I touch her back it no longer is straight bone. It hurt your fingers it was so bony.”

As a longtime cat lover, Sirois had a little trouble letting go.

“I couldn’t get him to put her down when he walked in,” Thompson said. “He finally looked me in the eye and said, ‘You have to promise me that if it doesn’t work out for you to keep him, I’ll be the first person you call.’”

Thompson said that could happen, as she has multiple sclerosis and keeping a cat in Deer Isle may be too difficult for her.

Sirois also renamed the cat Houdini, which Thompson embraced.

And, when she leaves for Portland to spend five days there over the holidays, Houdini will stay with Sirois.

“They both seemed really happy to see one another,” Sirois said. “It was a true Christmas miracle.”

Safe at home

Houdini safe in the arms of Lowry Thompson, a week after being rescued from a storage facility on the island, where he was trapped since late October.

Photo courtesy of Lowry Thompson
Rescued

When he was rescued, Houdini was skin and bones.

Photo courtesy of Lowry Thompson