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JAMESTOWN, N.D.: Lost therapy cat reunites with owners

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Sherry Olson has her cat back after nearly two months without him. Olson, her fiance, Paul Washburn, and her son, Jared Olson, were packing to move from Burton, Mich., to Jamestown in early May when their cat, Purrgus McKitty, b...

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Sherry Olson has her cat back after nearly two months without him.

Olson, her fiance, Paul Washburn, and her son, Jared Olson, were packing to move from Burton, Mich., to Jamestown in early May when their cat, Purrgus McKitty, began acting strangely.

"He acted really weird," Sherry Olson said. "He tried to lift up the carpet and go underneath, and he was scratching on walls."

Then, on the day they were leaving Michigan for the 1,000-mile drive to Jamestown, Purrgus used his paws to open a door and run away. Purrgus had been outside before, but Olson always found him. The family searched all day with no luck. "This time he really didn't want to be found," Olson said.

The family had to leave. Olson was devastated. Purrgus wasn't an ordinary cat; he was a physician-certified therapy cat.

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"He watches over me," Olson said. "He knows when I'm really sick. It's amazing how smart he is."

Because Purrgus was 12 years old and had been acting so oddly, Olson was afraid he might have gone to find a place to die, but she didn't give up on recovering her cat. Before they left that day, the family put fliers up and contacted the humane society. They left food out and asked the neighbors to keep watch for the missing cat.

A week later, Purrgus was finally seen at home, healthy and eating. The Genesee County Humane Society in Burton caught him and told Olson they would keep him as long as needed.

Although Purrgus' return was great news for Olson, he was still 1,000 miles away, and she couldn't afford the gas money to drive there and back. She contacted the James River Humane Society, which put her in touch with Kaye John of Dakota Rescuers.

John first tried to arrange for the cat to be transported to Jamestown along with a rescued dog, but that plan fell through.

"Two of the people who were transporting the dog had bad, bad cat allergies, to the point of being hospitalized," John said.

A second opportunity fell through when they couldn't get Purrgus out of Michigan in time to catch a ride west. "Most of these transports, when they take place, are last minute," John said.

So Purrgus was stuck at the Michigan humane society while Olson was home, crying for her cat and trying whatever she could to get him home.

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"She was on the Internet with everyone you could imagine," Washburn said.

The only solution was to fly Purrgus to Jamestown, and that had to be done quickly because airlines won't transport pets when the predicted temperature is above 85 degrees. Olson and Washburn scraped together what money they could, and John, seeing how important the therapy cat was, helped pay for the ticket.

Purrgus left Michigan at 6 p.m. Friday and flew into Jamestown at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Both cat and owner are happy to be reunited.

"He's acting great. He's glad to be home - I know he is," Olson said. "I quit crying."

The Jamestown Sun and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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