Cats, by nature, are curious. But curiosity almost got the best of Amber Williams’ cat, Cayden.
While traveling across the country March 28 from Hawaii to their new home in Washington D.C., the Williamses pulled the car off Interstate 65 across from the new weigh station in Seymour so her husband could drive.
Cayden, the couple’s large, male brown tabby, had pushed the window button down and decided to jump out for some fresh air and to explore the local surroundings.
The Williamses didn’t realize he was missing until about a half an hour later.
“I just thought it awful quiet in the car,” Amber said.
So they pulled over at a McDonald’s and searched the car, but Cayden was nowhere to be found.
“I’d had him since he was a kitten,” she said. “I was just heartbroken.”
Cayden had been there for Amber when her grandpa was sick with cancer, she said.
“I did nothing but love on this cat when my grandpa was going through chemotherapy,” she added.
At first, they weren’t even sure where Cayden had escaped. The family also had stopped previously at a Marathon gas station south of Indianapolis at the Southport exit.
Distraught because Cayden is diabetic and requires insulin and special food, Williams posted information to Indy Lost Pet Alert, hoping someone would have information on her cat and would contact her. She also went to several humane societies and put up flyers in both Southport and Seymour.
Amber and her husband spent two extra unplanned days in Indiana trying to find Cayden. They went back to both spots they had stopped at to look for him themselves. But because of her husband’s job in the military, they had to continue on their way.
Thankfully, the right people saw the notice and shared it with other animal lovers in the area, including Valerie Eckert of Seymour and Shannon Jones of the Clearspring area.
Eckert runs the Seymour, Indiana Pet Lost and Found Facebook page, which allows the public to post information on pets that have gone missing or been found in the hopes of reuniting them with their owners. Williams had sent the information to Eckert’s page.
Jones helps operate S.O.S. (Saints on our Side Rescue), an organization that helps reunite lost pets with their owners and finds homes for stray, abandoned, injured or abused animals in Jackson County.
When Jones learned of Cayden, it was too dark to go out and look for him, she said.
“I didn’t think I would have much luck finding a cat in the dark,” she added.
So the next day, she decided to go out to the location the Williamses had described to see if she could find Cayden.
She seriously doubted she would see the cat or be able to catch him if she did, but knowing how much the family missed Cayden, she was willing to try.
Jones said she walked back toward a wooded area behind the location of the old southbound weigh station and started to holler for the cat.
“It was kind of loud with the semis going by, so I didn’t think he could even hear me,” she said.
But it wasn’t long before Jones thought she heard a meowing noise, so she kept calling out for the cat. That’s when she spotted the big, brown tabby coming out of the tree line.
“He came right out to me, and he was fine,” Jones said. So she picked up Cayden, put him in her vehicle and drove to Jackson County Animal Clinic, where he stayed until Amber Williams could come get him laterthat day.
The Williamses were about 100 miles away, so they turned around to go back to get Cayden.
“Everyone involved was just so fantastic,” Amber said. “If it hadn’t been for all of these people, I don’t think I would have ever seen him again.”
Jones said she had prayed to St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, to keep Cayden safe and to lead him to her. Saint Francis is the saint for which Saints on our Side Animal Rescue is named.
Relying on donations and money out of their own pockets to operate S.O.S., Jones said it can be a struggle sometimes to take care of all the animals while they are awaiting adoption.
Because she was so grateful to Jones for rescuing Cayden, Amber Williams made a donation to S.O.S. and so did William and Valerie Eckert.
Jones said it was enough money to pay the vet bills to save a litter of puppies that S.O.S. had acquired.
“I think I was supposed to find Cayden in order to be able to help those puppies too,” Jones said.
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Saints on our Side Animal Rescue is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on taking in rescued cats and finding a good home for them.
Linda Jackson is the director, while Shannon Jones, Karen McDonald and Becky Bujwid are officers.
Donations may be mailed to SOS Animal Rescue, 2317 E. U.S. 50, Brownstown, IN 47220.
People also may stop by Brownstown Veterinary Clinic, 1328 W. Commerce St., Brownstown, or call 812-358-2947 to have money applied to Jackson’s SOS Animal Rescue account.