A cat, a community and a Christmas miracle

by Louis Gard and Lynn Lowe

editor@thenewsleaders.com

In mid-August, Jenny Dunay took her kittens, Tom and Jerry, to St. Joseph’s Veterinary Clinic for routine checkups and an examination. She would put them in a box (to much to their chagrin) in the car with her two granddaughters, Addie and Amy. In the transfer from the car to the clinic, Jerry ran away. Adi, who thought she was helping, opened the trunk door to get Jerry out and carried him inside. It fired like a single bullet and quickly out of sight. Donai ran after him but unfortunately, Jerry was too fast.

Donai assured the girls that she would find him. She came home and started making stickers, pasting them on every telephone pole she could find. She drove pegs into the ground for more streamers, placed a larger one in Kleinfelter Park, and posted them at grocery and hardware stores. Donai knocked on doors and even gave people phone numbers to call in case they spotted him.

Jerry’s face, with its distinctive markings (a smear on his nose that looked as if he was poking his face in soot), appeared all over town. On the advice of the veterinary clinic, Donai purchased a live trap and placed it in the back of the clinic with cat food and water. Joseph from her home near Rockville and checked in every morning and every night. Almost immediately there were “views” of the elusive cat.

Jerry was seen sitting on a wooden pile on the edge of a wooded backyard of a house bordering Interstate 75. The owner kept him in sight so Donai could get there. She was able to get close to him 25 feet away, but the terrified cat lunged and ran again. And so it went, week after week after week.

More sightings took place and Saint Joseph’s people kept calling. The two young boys at the lemonade stand who noticed Jerry running across the street, the man with Parkinson’s who drove daily in his golf cart until the weather turned cold, and a small family on a Minnesota street who let Donay set the live trap in their backyard (then With the help of their neighbor who accidentally trapped his cats), the farmer who watched him and helped her get two opossums out of the trap, the 80-year-old pulling out the foliage she lent her again the live trap, the woman out for a walk with her dog who spotted Jerry running in the ditch. And of course, Donai and her family members continued to search as well.

With summer turning into autumn and autumn turning into winter, Jerry’s survival skills keep him alive, but the adults begin to lose hope of his return home.

But Addie and Amy never gave up hope. Adi said prayers, a lot of them. As Christmas approaches, she and Amy write to Santa about Jerry asking for his safe return.

Finally, months after his disappearance, there was a woman who followed a keen hunch that Jerry could have rode in the engine compartment of a GMC Yukon to Cold Spring. Donai got a phone call from a woman who saw a picture of Jerry on a poster in Coburn and remembered that smear on his nose. She and her boyfriend had dinner and drinks at St. Joseph that evening. When the friend arrived at his home in Cold Spring, he discovered that a cat had crawled into his engine compartment, probably for warmth. Could it be Jerry?

Donai grabbed the live trap and went to Cold Spring, thinking four months later, maybe catching it would still be a challenge. She rushed into the yard, stood next to her car, and screamed. Jerry emerged from under the neighbor’s balcony and ran straight towards her. Four months of vacation must have been enough for him.

Jerry is now home and rolling on his back for a tummy massage as usual. He is slim but has an amazing thick coat. He and his brother, Tom, eat again from the same bowl and sleep snugly in the heated cat house in the garage. They even sat on the windowsill watching Donai as he wrapped Christmas presents.

What makes this story even more disturbing is the pleasant coincidence of Jerry’s return. Addie and Amy aren’t sure if their prayers were answered or if Santa listened to their request, but they are pretty sure that Papa was responsible as well. Jerry’s choice of car to warm up and stop for the ride was the GMC Yukon. The GMC is the only car Papa could drive.

“This cat has connected me with so many wonderful people in the community,” Donai said. “I keep getting texts saying how happy everyone is that Jerry has found.”

Jerry recently visited the vet to make up for the appointment he ran away in August. The granddaughters were next to him, making sure he stayed in his box this time.

Donai wants to thank the residents of Saint Joseph for coming to help Jerry. “Because of them, he is safe at home with us again,” she said.

Jerry’s little adventure brought society together in a special way and crafted for a wonderful Christmas miracle.

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Tom (left) and Jerry peek through the window while Donai (not pictured) wraps gifts.
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Jerry is waiting to be checked.
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Donai’s granddaughters, Amy (left) and Addie, comfort Jerry while he waits for his checkup to begin.
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Donai’s granddaughter, Addie, listens to Jerry’s heart at the rescheduled appointment for the vet he evaded last August.

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