A little kindness goes a long way. But sometimes we don’t realize just how far a good deed can reach. In the case of one stray cat discovered in Pasco County earlier this month, it traveled at least 1,400 miles.
When a customer at a Pasco KFC spotted a pet carrier next to the restaurant’s dumpster on July 8, they decided to take a closer look. Inside, they discovered a white stray cat with striking green eyes – distressed, with slight abrasions on his neck, but still very much alive. They gave Pasco County Animal Services a call.
Fortunately, the stray cat had been microchipped. Upon scanning his chip, PCAS discovered that the feline was called Steve. And that his home, to everyone’s surprise, was in New Hampshire.
When Janice Bresnahan of Boscawen, NH saw a call come in from Florida, she assumed it was a telemarketer and let it ring. Then she checked the message.
“My face just dropped!” she recalls. “I turned to the friend I was with and said, ‘you have to see this — it says they have Steve!’”
Bresnahan had adopted Steve more than seven years ago. She had initially thought of him as a new brother for her two other pets (a German shepherd and another cat). But Steve immediately gravitated toward her grandson, Gavin, who also loved animals.
“Gavin hung out with him and that was it,” she remembers. “He was his from then on. Steve picked him.”
So when Steve disappeared from their home while the family was out on errands in March 2020, Gavin got to work. He drew posters and hung them in the neighborhood. Even as the weeks went by with no luck, he was sure they would find him.
“I thought Steve had been hit by a car or caught by an animal, but of course I couldn’t tell Gavin that.” Bresnahan confides. “But Gavin always said he was out there. He was right,” she laughs.
No Place Like Home
Gavin’s beloved cat had finally been found. But tragically, Gavin would not get to share in the joy of Steve’s homecoming. Gavin was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in December 2021 and died the following month. He was 10 years old.
Bresnahan wanted Steve back. But with a full-time job and a family to care for, the 1,400-mile journey was a serious hurdle.
That’s where Save Our Strays, Inc. came in. The Pinellas-based nonprofit, which is dedicated to rescuing and helping to rehome stray cats and kittens, created an online fundraiser to cover the cost of transporting Steve. Within 12 hours, the fundraiser had reached its goal, and on July 15, an SOS volunteer boarded a flight for New Hampshire with Steve in tow.
“It’s rewarding knowing we’ve helped this cat,” says longtime SOS employee, Fluffy Cazalas, noting that Steve might otherwise have ended up getting euthanized. “Janice had a hole in her heart, and this was something we could do that brought some good into the world.”
I Told You So
Bresnahan still has no idea how Steve got all the way to Florida.
“I think he must have Milo and Otis’ed it,” she says. (Given a 2016 study from Australia’s Central Tablelands Local Land Services that revealed domestic cats may travel up to 1.8 miles in their daily wanderings, perhaps this isn’t so improbable.)
What she does know: It is great to have Steve back. In the short time he has been home, he has enjoyed rediscovering a favorite hidey-hole, playing with his dog-brother, and cuddling with Bresnahan’s grandson Jaydin.
“I can never ever thank all the amazing people who helped us enough,” she says. “It has restored my faith in humanity. There are angels everywhere.”
“Also,” she reflects, “everybody be sure to microchip your animals! You just never know.”
And what might Gavin say about Steve’s return, if he could? Bresnahan smiles.
“Mimi, I told you so!”