After the Santa Rosa fire a Colorado woman felt compelled to adopt a cat, yet she soon got a blast from the past

December 28, 2017 12:30 pm, Last Updated: December 28, 2017 1:57 pm

Whenever tragedy strikes, there are people looking to give back in any way they can. Some donate supplies, others donate cash, some go to the area for mission work, while others spread awareness. Everyone has their own way of pitching in and, together, they work to turn things around.

When fire struck Santa Rosa, California back in October, Jenn Thompson from Longmont, Colorado, sought to adopt one of the many cats who had lost its home.

“I was telling one of my friends out here, ‘I feel like I should adopt one of these cats,’ because there were so many,” Thompson told her local news. “We lost a cat to cancer last spring and I’ve been telling my husband, ‘We have a vacancy.'”

Thompson already has three cats, but she felt like she had room for one more.

(GoFundMe/Jennifer Leigh Thompson)

Yet it wasn’t long until that vacancy was no longer available. Before Thompson had a chance to adopt a new cat, she received a phone call from a group of vets with some strange but miraculous news: a cat the Thompsons had lost 10 years ago, Pilot, had been found.

Pilot had lived with the Thompsons since 2004, back when they were still living in Santa Rosa. In 2007, he went missing and, in 2010, the Thompsons moved to Longmont. The family assumed that they’d never see him again, yet a scan of the cat’s microchip revealed that they had indeed found Pilot, or rather a passerby had found Pilot under a pile of rubble and taken him to the vets.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Thompson said. “I got off the phone and told my husband, and he’s like, ‘You’re going to go get him, right?'”

Thompson drove down to pick up Pilot at a pet hospital in Northern California, where her sister works. Pilot was burned in the fires and in poor condition, making the trip back longer and more gut-wrenching than she could have imagined.

Pilot required two surgeries, including one wherein five of his toes were amputated. After that, he needed a lot of rest before beginning the voyage home.

Pilot, the cat they had lost a decade ago, was finally being reunited with his original owners.

(GoFundMe/Jennifer Leigh Thompson)

When Pilot arrived at his new home, it didn’t take long for him to adapt to his surroundings.

“I think he recognized my voice and that was pretty cool,” Thompson said. “When I brought him back, he definitely recognized my daughter. Definitely. She was 8 when he went missing. Right away, he went and cuddled up with her. I had no doubt. It’s like, OK, he knows my kid.”

Pilot soon rekindled his relationship with Thompson’s children.

(GoFundMe/Jennifer Leigh Thompson)

The Thompsons had no idea where Pilot had been for the past decade but were glad to have him back.

At 13 years old, Pilot is not quite as playful or agile as he once was but he’s still just as friendly as ever. After rejoining the family, Thompson set up a GoFundMe for Pilot to pay for medical expenses.

He was a good cat who had been through the wringer and needed all the help he could get. Thompson’s initial goal was to raise $500 but, as the campaign picked up steam, the numbers soon grew into the thousands.

“When I got the first donation, I cried,” she admitted. “Everything has been so surreal. And just how many people have been interested and supportive and on Pilot’s side, it’s been really cool.”

It’s a pilot’s job to travel all around the world inside an airplane yet, now that this Pilot has spent over a decade away, it’s safe to say he won’t try to leave again anytime soon.

(GoFundMe/Jennifer Leigh Thompson)