Many pets that go missing are found within a few blocks of their homes, which is why having a network of neighbors is so valuable in times of lost pet crisis.
In these more modern times, it’s common and incredibly useful to post about lost and found pets on online groups designed specifically for those purposes, so locals can keep an eye out or see if they recognize a neighbor’s pet — but sometimes you still can’t beat a good, old-fashioned “LOST” sign when trying to locate your four-legged friend.
That’s what the Wertenberger family from Union Gap, Washington, did, and that’s primarily why their beloved kitty Piper (“Pipes”) made it home after being gone for almost a month.
Pipes is a 6-year-old, 19-pound tuxedo cat who fancies a stroll outside from time to time. She’s figured out how to use the doggy door, and has made use of that knowledge.
Occasionally she even gets stuck on the roof and needs rescuing, but she tends to make herself known and doesn’t miss a mealtime. On Feb. 24, though, she went missing.
“Piper doesn’t miss a meal … and she now has missed several,” Kimberly Krebs Wertenberger posted on Facebook on Feb. 26. “Going to knock on some doors and make friends with some neighbors.”
The family put up signs, contacted local shelters, and kept posting about their feline friend. Pipes was microchipped, so they had hope if she was found and turned in to a rescue, she’d be on her way home soon.
“She had ALWAYS been an indoor only kitty but when they moved into UG she learned how to use the doggy door,” Kimberly continued in another post. “We are driving the streets, walking the streets, calling for you. There are several black & white kitties that look similar … but not you.”
Weeks passed. Caitlyn, the cat’s owner, said she held out hope Piper would make it home.
“Piper is literally my best friend, we were out there looking almost every day,” she said, according to KSAZ-TV. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, but I couldn’t believe she was permanently gone.”
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, their new next-door neighbors, whose home was being remodeled, were gradually solving a mystery. They kept hearing meowing when they moved in, but they had cats too, so at first they thought little of it.
“The tenants had heard meowing for a couple of days (4-5ish) but they have a cat themselves, so they kind of just disregarded it,” Wertenberger said.
But early in the morning on March 24, the neighbors traced the sound to their chimney, peeked up, and realized there was a cat stuck in there that did not belong to them.
Thankfully, the neighbors had noticed the LOST signs for Piper, so they knew who to contact. Once the Wertenbergers confirmed it was their Pipes, the next problem was figuring out how in the world to get her down.
“They called a chimney guy who was going to come and remove some bricks, but my Hubby beat them to it!” Kimberly posted in a happy update. “He ran to Lowes and bought a ladder and a dog tie out with a special clip.”
“Caitlyn was able to get her in the bag from the bottom and he dropped the clip down, clipped it on the bag and up she came. She was HAPPY to be home!!! We are THRILLED she is home.”
“Originally we were going to have a brick mason come out and just pull some bricks, but my dad always has an idea,” Caitlyn told KSAZ.
“She had no access to food or water more than likely that whole time, it rained like once. I’ve been saying she has one big life event now, she’s officially seen some things.”
While the cat dropped seven pounds during her ordeal, she seems to be doing well. She is also hesitant to venture outdoors, but perhaps that’s for the best.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.