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By Jay Thorwaldson

Who else has a 'The Cat Came Back' story?

Uploaded: Sep 9, 2010

Amid the hustle of modern high-tech, high-speed life it's always great to pause for a story about a cat -- or sometimes a dog -- that gets lost or left behind and somehow gets reunited with its owners.

The story this week of "Tiger," the escapee from a pet-boarding place who was reunited with his family is such a story.

Another story is pending about a kitten who showed up at her child's school one day and meowed outside the classroom door. I'm not sure that's technically a "cat came back" story, though, remarkable as it is.

But the Tiger story got me to thinking about two things.

The first is an ancient cassette recording of an elderly relative-in-law, Perry Blackburn, a longtime railroad engineer in the Midwest, who sang into an early recording device the old song with the refrain, "The cat came back. We thought he was a goner. The cat came back the very next day."

His high, scratchy voice is haunting, as is his enthusiasm for the song, stanza after stanza.

The second is an experience I had as a freshman in college, at the time dating a young woman, Nancy, later destined to become my wife. When someone offered me an orange-tabby kitten I gave it to her. She named it Tigger.

But after a week or two, alas, the kitten disappeared from her east Los Gatos home. No sign or word from the searches and posters we put up. A couple of weeks went by.

One evening I pulled into the driveway of my home several miles to the west, at the base of the Santa Cruz mountains. My bloodhound, Annie Oakley, came bounding out to meet me. But she was more agitated than usual, especially for a bloodhound, which are known for not being terribly animated.

She ran ahead, then back, then ahead, as I walked toward the house, up the side-door steps and into my ground-floor room -- a wing attached to the rear of the house. I always left the door open so Annie could go in and out during the day. She slept in a large, overstuffed chair behind my desk/study area.

She stopped at the door and looked up, with a extra-worried look on her usually worried-looking face. Inside, lying calmly and comfortably in Annie's big chair, was a half-grown orange tabby that looked a lot like Tigger. It was friendly and made itself at home.

OK, I'll take this one to Nancy, I decided, thinking it was a different cat -- which I did the next day.

"This is Tigger," she declared. I asked how she knew. The original Tigger had a pale spot about the size of a silver dollar in the middle of its back. This cat had the same pale spot. It was the same cat.

Somehow, I figured, this lost kitten wandered four or five miles and picked up my scent as it passed through my home neighborhood. Then it confronted this big slobbery dog and walked right into my house and room, and even took over Annie's big chair.

Tigger stayed with us many years, and finally wound up with our family in Menlo Park -- where he rests in a grave under a Japanese plum tree. Great cat.

So that's my "cat came back" story, from decades ago.

Do you have one? Share it here.