People who think newspapers are only good for wrapping fish and swatting flies haven't met Janet Howard, who was recently reunited with her lost cat thanks to a newspaper.
A photograph that ran in the Nevada Appeal with a senior cat adoption article on Feb. 22 depicted a 19-year-old tabby house cat named Matt.
"When I saw the picture, I thought, 'That's my cat!'" the 19-year Carson City resident recalled, as she clutched her new-found cat in her arms.
After seeing the picture, Howard contacted Pet Network, a nonprofit cat rescue agency based in Incline Village, which was housing the cat, whose real name is Robert.
"It's nothing short of a miracle," said Adam Hulme, Pet Network's director of adoption services. "When we rescued him from Animal Control in March 2004, his chances of being adopted were very slim. Sometimes people don't realize the benefits of adopting a senior cat."
Had Pet Network not rescued Robert from Animal Control, which puts to sleep pets it cannot place in homes, the cat may not be alive today. For nearly a year, Pet Network took care of Robert, housing and feeding him and giving him medication for his thyroid condition.
Two Sundays ago, Pet Network held a senior cat adoption fair at the PetSmart store in Carson City in the hopes of finding Robert - and nine other senior cats - a home. But no one adopted any of the cats.
In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise that Robert wasn't adopted, so that he could be later reunited with his rightful owner.
When Robert ran away from home more than a year ago, Howard had all but lost hope of finding him again.
"We thought the coyotes had gotten him," said Howard, who adopted Robert in 1986 while she living in San Diego. "We got a pet rabbit to replace him."
On Wednesday, Howard and her daughter, Elizabeth, met Pet Network's Hulme at the PetSmart store to reunite cat and owner.
To prove Robert had indeed been her cat, Howard brought family pictures of him, including snapshots of Robert dressed up as a mouse for Halloween.
Will Howard call the cat by his old name or the one chosen by Pet Network when it rescued him?
Howard says it doesn't matter because the cat is deaf. "We're just happy to have him back," she said.
Besides her lost cat, Howard also took home a heaping gift basket of cat products donated by PetSmart.
- Contact reporter Dan Moreau at email@example.com or 881-1217.