On May 8, Kato, our 19-year-old tuxedo cat, went out as usual to sun herself on the front porch. That’s why I thought it was the wrong number when the Boulder animal shelter called an hour later to say her PetLink microchip had been scanned.

It was highly unusual for our girl, in the end stage of intestinal cancer, to wander from her cozy loveseat and water bowl. I am guessing the pain meds had her confused, or perhaps she wanted one last adventure on this sun-kissed morning.

A neighbor, the shelter told us, found her a few blocks away on a busy street.

My 5-year-old daughter and I drove 20 minutes to the shelter to find a very confused feline. I wrapped her in a towel, felt an immediate soft purr, and we went home.

I’d had Kato since she was a tiny kitten, fearless of everything. She’d walk up to a large hissing cat and immediately win the stranger’s affections; an open door was an invitation to a neighbor’s home and a nap on their sofa. Thankfully, she seemed to pick cat-friendly homes to visit.

This spring, on the day she went missing, Kato died in my arms a couple of hours after she got home. It was a peaceful, humane euthanasia we had planned a day earlier with our veterinarian.

I am so grateful to PetLink for the quick response and reunion we had with our cat. She was so frail and bone-thin, that, if they had thought she was a stray, surely the shelter would have put her down, alone and far from her family.

Instead, Kato died being hugged and loved, and hearing the quiet words in her ear of what a special, wonderful cat she was.

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