Oregon kitty camps out for 16 months, returns unscathed

KEIZER, Ore. (USA Today) - After the phone call, Cissy Myers said she shook the whole way as she drove to Silver Falls State Park.

It was Nov. 20, and she had just received a call from the park's office that her 4-year-old cat, who had gone missing on a camping trip 16 months ago, had been found.

Myers didn't want to get her hopes up because her heart had been broken before.

"I thought, 'What if it's not Mazy?' "

Mazy May, a fluffy tortoiseshell cat with light green eyes, first came to Myers as a stray. She often camped out in the family's backyard until Myers took her in.

She became what Myers described as a "one-person" cat - taking only to her and her 7-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle McClure.

"She was always afraid and skittish of people," Myers said of Mazy.

During summer 2012, Myers and her husband, Kenneth, went camping at the park about 30 miles from their home along with their pets, including Mazy May. The cat normally stuck close to Myers. But about 7 on the morning they were leaving, Myers noticed that Mazy was missing.

"We were waking, and I said where's Mazy?"

The couple began a search, and Myers returned day after day knowing Mazy May would not come out of hiding for anyone's voice but her own. She posted fliers of the cat around the camp. She even went back to camp for a few days in hopes that Mazy would return. But after a month Myers stopped searching, and her heart was broken.

Then, 16 months later, the call came.

Myers said she thought the park was calling to formally close the search. She hadn't dreamed that officials were calling to tell her that park ranger Martha Duckworth had found a cat that matched the one in her fliers.

Duckworth, who has worked at the park for 22 years, said she had noticed the cat around the campground for a couple of weeks. Because she recognized many of the strays in the area but not this one, Duckworth decided to put a live trap in place.

"I brought her back to my office and she was just a lover," said Duckworth, who a week earlier had to put down her own cat.

Duckworth took the cat home, all the while thinking it resembled the tortie that Myers had lost so many months before.

"I went through the 2012 log book that we fill out and found Cissy's name and phone number," she said.

Duckworth gave her a call.

"It was a long shot, but I thought maybe I had her cat," Duckworth said.

Myers agreed to drive up, but when she arrived, her doubts were not immediately alleviated. A staff member asked if the cat she had lost had been declawed. She said Mazy had her claws, and the staff member said dejectedly that the cat that was found had been declawed.

It turns out that Mazy May has very small claws. When Duckworth brought the cat into the room, Myers knew right away.

"I have no idea how long that gasp lasted," Myers said.

"You could tell the cat really missed being loved," Duckworth said. "It took her five minutes to calm down and she just relaxed. It was so neat to see."

Myers immediately took the cat to Willamette Valley Animal Hospital to be evaluated. She found that Mazy May had somehow maintained her weight (she weighed 10.8 pounds when she was lost and 10.2 pounds at the clinic). She also was free of ticks and fleas and had maintained her coat and claws.

"She's just like she used to be," Myers said, holding Mazy May in her kitchen Wednesday.

Myers suspects that Mazy May's time as a stray prepared her for a stint in the wilderness, but how she avoided wild animal attacks is a mystery even to park officials.

Duckworth said the biggest miracle was that the many raccoons and bobcats that roam the area did not have Mazy May for dinner.

"I don't know how she survived, but she sure did a nice job of it," Duckworth said.

Myers said tears of joy didn't hit her until the following day when she saw Mazy May playing with her granddaughter.

Mazy May now calmly walks about the home and crawls all over Myers' bed, perfectly content never to leave the indoors.

"We call her Miracle Mazy May," Myers said.


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