Outside, enjoying the fresh air. Sniff, sniff.
Is that a squirrel?
A cat, however, is much more coy. A squirrel you say? I'll just sit here in the sun and check it out for a while, then decide what to do.
Unfortunately, such was not the luck for Alex Bismore, whose cat, Ginger, went missing for nearly five years.
Bismore was a senior at Everett High School when he went looking for a cat just before his 18th birthday.
He spotted a tiny calico kitten in the back corner of an animal shelter. "As soon as I saw the cat, I knew it was the cat I had to have," Bismore said.
Bismore, who was living with his grandparents, decided to adopt a second cat named Tiger. As the weeks stretched into months, the two cats became like brother and sister, often playing outside together.
One day, Tiger came back inside. Ginger didn't.
"We assumed she would come back the next day," Bismore said. "The next day, we didn't see anything, or the next day or the next."
The house, in the Lowell neighborhood of Everett, has trees and a creek nearby.
He and his grandparents searched the neighborhood and checked local animal shelters but couldn't find her. They feared the cat, about 3 months old, had been taken by a wild animal.
Ginger had a tiny microchip implanted in her body with identification information, so the Bismores still hoped to find her.
But four and a half years passed. "We assumed we would never see her again," Bismore said.
On Feb. 8, there was a message on the house phone. Bismore's grandmother, Gladys Bismore, returned the call and was asked: Did you have a cat?
"Well, not recently," she responded.
It turned out the call was from a microchip monitoring company. When the chip was read with a special scanner, it provided a number that could be matched in a database with the Bismores' name, address and phone number.
As best as can be pieced together, Ginger had somehow made her way to a home about three miles away, near the Colby Campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. An elderly man living there was caring for several cats.
It's unclear why anyone checked Ginger for a microchip.
There was one other thing that convinced the Bismores that the cat in question wasn't just any calico but the real missing Ginger.
Ginger always had a little kink in her tail, "a quirky thing that's pretty unmistakable," Alex Bismore said. This cat did, too.
But they wondered if her loving personality had turned more feral during the years she went missing.
It didn't take long to find out. As soon as she was brought home and bounced out of the carrier, she looked around her surroundings and then moved into a big cat stretch, back legs out, back rounded.
When Alex Bismore walked down the hall to his room, Ginger walked with him and stood expectantly at his door. When he momentarily left the room, there she was at his side.
"It was cute as can be," Gladys Bismore said. "She's been attached to him. She definitely remembered him."
Alex Bismore, who is now 22, said that life is resuming with Ginger pretty much as before, with one exception.
"As far as I'm concerned, she'll be an indoor cat," he said. "I don't want to lose her again."
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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