It’s a “Homeward Bound” story with a bit of a twist.
Somewhere between the communities of West Columbia and Eau Claire, a particularly independent feline named “Tabby Cat” is trying to make her way home – such as home is.
The twist? Tabby Cat is feral. She has lived her life thus far in and around the yard of Frances Potter, whose home is in Eau Claire, near Columbia College. When Potter discovered several weeks ago that Tabby Cat had an injured paw, she called a West Columbia organization called Safe Cats Coalition. The coalition is dedicated to trapping feral cats, spaying or neutering them, and returning them to the environments they call home.
The coalition was able to trap Tabby Cat and have her left paw treated. The vet wanted Tabby Cat to stay in an enclosure for at least a week before being released. So while recuperating from surgery, Tabby Cat was kept in a kennel on the patio of a coalition member who lives on Holland Street in West Columbia.
The plan was to return Tabby Cat to Potter in a week’s time.
But Tabby Cat, bandaged foot and being her “born free self,” Potter said, escaped the West Columbia patio and took off, most likely, for “home” in Eau Claire.
“Oh, I want Tabby Cat back so much,” said Potter, who is 83 years old.
“I think she is looking for where she grew up, where her home is. She was born on my property, probably underneath the house. She was born free and she was always going to stay free. She never wanted to stay in my house, but I kept her watered and fed.”
Tabby Cat has traditional tabby coloring – brown and gray stripes. She has a notch in one ear, which identifies to animal control authorities and to others that she has been spayed. It’s also possible that her paw is still bandaged.
But making her way home to Potter’s will not be an easy task.
“Most cats that are feral will always try to get back to where they were born,” said Mary Potts, who is with Safe Cats Coalition.
“But it’s a rough life out there for a cat trying to get home. There are a lot of wandering dogs. There is a lack of food. They have to compete with racoons and possums for any food that is left out for them. Then there are cars.”
The coalition has trapped, spayed and neutered about 1,200 cats in the past few years.
“These are community cats,” Potts said. “People don’t own them. We spay and neuter as many of them as possible.”
The cats are then released because most of them cannot be adopted.
“There are just too many of them,” Potts said.
There has been one sighting of Tabby Cat since her departure from Potts’ patio.
“I miss her every day,” said Potter.
“I am an animal appreciator. I find that most animals are nicer than most people. Tabby Cat would sit close by when I was outside, watering things in the yard. Planting things. You know, you get used to a cat coming and sitting and watching you only a few feet away.”
If you think you may have seen Tabby Cat, who Potter described as “small and determined,” please contact Potts at (803) 543-6335.