Thursday, December 4, 2008

Camping with Kitty

A Texas family was reunited with their cat, Fluffy, three months after having lost her on a camping trip in Yellowstone Park. Last summer, the Wattenbargers - Mom, Dad, three girls and two cats - took off on a cross-country tour of National Parks. At each stop, the cats, Fluffy and Tiger, were let out to explore the new terrain. But they always came back to the trailer when they get hungry for supper. One particular August day, however, when the family was camping in Yellowstone, Fluffy went off to explore and never returned for her meal. The Wattenbargers figured that their vanished tabby must have become someone else's meal -maybe a bear's, bobcat's or coyote's. And Mom admits that, "Fluffy wasn't the smarter of our two cats." They didn't have much faith in the feline's ability to fend for herself in the wilderness. After searching for several days, the family packed up and went back to Texas.
In November, three months after the ill-fated camping fiasco, the Wattenbargers get a call from 79-year-old Shirley Armstrong, who lives along the outskirts of Yellowstone. Armstrong had been feeding a stray tabby who had not allowed her close enough to read the name and phone number on its collar. With the weather getting colder, this resourceful woman had borrowed a trap from the local police department and snagged the skittish critter. After contacting the Wattenbargers, she was even able to arrange a chaperon to escort Fluffy back to Texas by air. One of Armstrong's neighbors was a retired flight attendant who was able to fly free. All the family had to do was pay Fluffy's fare and show up at the airport.
It was a joyful reunion to be sure. But has the family learned their lesson about letting pets wander freely among wild animals in strange surroundings? No, they've decided to continue camping with their cats.
"They seem to enjoy themselves out there," says Dad, in an article from the Houston Chronicle.

Image of a Yellowstone Park resident, courtesy of the Official Website of Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

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