Six months later, the cat came back

After a long search, Nelly is home safe and sound

Barb Sweet
Published on January 16, 2013
A six-month absence from home apparently had no bad physical effects on Nelly the cat after she ran away while under the care of Tracey Bishop (left). After a thorough exam, Dr. Ghulam Dogar (right) of the Sunrise Animal Hospital in Mount Pearl gave the feline a clean bill of health. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Nelly, the cat that went missing for six months, has been found.

Just before Christmas, The Telegram told of the plea by Gail Dearn, a Newfoundlander temporarily living in Malaysia, to locate Nelly.

“Some people may wonder why, after all this time, am I still searching? The reason is that I love my cat and she deserves that. I also have a special connection to her,” Dearn told The Telegram at the time. “I got her while I was pregnant, which was therapeutic to some complications I was having. She also overcame leukemia as a kitten, which makes her more precious to me."

Tuesday, Dearn, who’d been frantic with worry about Nelly out in the winter weather, learned in an email that Nelly had been found at last.

“I have been waiting for this news for six months and was worried I would never get the chance to experience it! Nelly is doing great! She was very hungry and affectionate and meowed throughout the night while sleeping, my sis said, but other than that, just great!” Dearn told The Telegram in an email.

Nelly and the search for her inspired a Facebook group, “Find Nelly,” that even reunited other pets with their owners and strung together a group of strangers in the search for the three-year-old black cat.

Dearn moved to Malaysia in April with her family and will be staying for one to three years.

She left her two cats, Nelly and Macy, with her sister, Tracey Bishop, who lives in Mount Pearl near Brookfield Road.


Nelly managed to get out of Bishop’s home. The search for her included a group of volunteers blanketing neighbourhoods with flyers, lately even putting them in people’s mailboxes.

There were many tips and a parade of black cats through Bishop’s home, but none were Nelly.

Though close by, Bishop suspects Nelly couldn’t find her way back to her because the cat had been so new to the neighbourhood when she went missing.

As Nelly was microchipped, a scanner was used to check any cats who fit Nelly’s description.

When The Telegram story was published, Grace and Robert Clarke, a few streets away from Bishop, wondered about a black cat that had been coming around their property since the fall.

Early on they didn’t feed the cat, thinking it was a neighbourhood cat stopping by occasionally. But —  learning of missing Nelly — they began leaving food out a few weeks ago. They could never get close to the feline, but knew the cat was eating as it left tracks on their deck.

During last weekend’s blizzard, Grace Clarke said her husband worried about “that poor little cat” and screwed a dish of food to the rail.

One evening, Clarke said, she looked through the blind and spotted the cat on the rail. The cat turned and looked at her.

“Those green eyes, I knew it had to be her,” Clarke said of recalling the distinctive photo in The Telegram.

“They were as green as grass. She looked exactly like the picture.”

She was in touch with Bishop and invited her to try to check the cat out.

Monday night, Bishop went over and called out to the cat for about a half hour, eventually managing to catch her. She scanned the microchip and the numbers indeed matched Nelly’s code.

Then she knocked on the Clarkes’ door.

“She was really, really excited,” Clarke said. “We’re really happy Nelly is home.”

“I saw the numbers matched and I said “Thank you God.” I just grabbed her right tight, put her in my car and started crying,” Bishop said.

Nelly might have been holed up under the Clarkes’ deck or under their travel trailer. But Bishop said Nelly looked just fine.

“She actually looked good,” Bishop said Tuesday. “I can’t even say she lost weight.”

Bishop brought Nelly to get checked out by the vet Tuesday, just in case, and the cat was given a clean bill of health.

Nelly went through two tins of food when she got home Monday night, ate some dry food and treats, played awhile and then crashed.

But Bishop said Nelly woke up meowing a bunch of times through the night and has just been lying around ever since, relaxing.

She seems glad to be home and hasn’t even bothered looking out the window.

Dearn said two people had been emailing her the past two weeks about feeding a black cat. Clarke said her daughter had been emailing Dearn. And Dearn said it turned out a neighbour of the Clarkes’ was also feeding the cat.