Thank you again, Noozhawk, for running the story (on Thanksgiving Day, no less) of my lost cat, Pepper.

On Nov. 13, my husband, dog, two cats and I evacuated from the western boundary of the Tea Fire. Thankfully, our house was spared. We returned to our home Nov. 16. Three days later, my 13-year-old cat, Pepper, disappeared.

After two and a half weeks, Pepper is safely back home. I share this followup story dedicated to all of those pet owners who are still awaiting the return of their animal family members. Hope is eternal!

At 10 p.m. last Saturday night, my home phone rang. It was a woman, Catherine, who claimed to have Pepper in her home. With guarded optimism, my husband and I drove four miles (to State and Alamar streets) to see if the cat was indeed my little Pepper. When I walked into Catherine’s home, her husband was holding a tiny black cat that was Pepper. Wow! Pepper was alive. I immediately held her and she just purred and purred as I cried tears of joy. What a sweet reunion.

Pepper felt skinny and frail. Catherine told us that Pepper had walked into their home this Saturday right through the front door and started eating their cat food. Catherine and her family have three cats. Pepper has colorings similar to a cat of theirs, so they thought nothing of it at first. Shortly after, they figured out that it wasn’t their cat and Pepper let them pick her up. Thankfully, she still had her collar on with the tags including my phone number. Catherine called my home within five minutes of Pepper walking into their home.

After thanking Catherine and her family, it was time to leave and get Pepper back home. I put out a full buffet of every variety of cat food that I owned to try to encourage Pepper to eat. It didn’t work. Instead I brought her over to her blanket and laid down with her. Within minutes, Pepper was purring and fast asleep.

Dr. Sellers from the Cat and Bird Clinic looked Pepper over and she miraculously got a clean bill of health. She wasn’t dehydrated, hadn’t lost much weight and wasn’t low on her red blood cells. There must have been many angels along the way keeping Pepper well fed and hydrated as she was on her journey.

The next few weeks for Pepper will be a little less adventurous as she will be resting inside the safety of our home.

I believe in the power of our thoughts, and I know my family and friends all held out hope for Pepper’s return. It worked, and I thank my family and friends for that. For all of those who are awaiting their happy reunions with their pets, I will hold out a general intention that there will be many, many more happy reunions in the coming days and weeks.

This is certainly the best Christmas present.

My little miracle kitty is back in my life and in the family. I am thrilled and feel blessed and am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Paula Waldman
Santa Barbara