Lost pets aren’t all that unusual in Sitka, although it’s a heartbreaking and stressful experience for any pet owner. Swapped pets? That’s a bit more unusual. In Sitka, two cat owners and their felines recently found themselves at the center of a strange saga of mistaken identity.
It was a Monday morning when Sitkan Mary Pierce let her grey cat Billy outside to wander. He often roamed the neighborhood, but he never went far. Three days passed before she saw him again, but this time she was scooping his lifeless body from a busy roadside. Across town, Courtney MacArthur’s cat, Blueberry, had been acting strange and distant. It all began when MacArthur and her daughter went to visit family in California. As usual, they left Blueberry with a cat sitter.
“Partway through the week, the cat sitter had to leave town, they couldn’t continue to watch our cat. So our dog sitter went over, and picked up the cat from the cat sitter,” MacArthur recounted. “About maybe 30 seconds after receiving the cat, the dog sitter calls us and says, This is not Blueberry. This is not your cat.”
Over a video call, MacArthur’s dog sitter showed her the cat. It had grey hair like Blueberry, but had a broader face and was missing her peach colored markings. Even on the small phone screen, MacArthur could tell almost immediately that the cat wasn’t hers. It looked worried and confused, and on top of that MacArthur suspected it was a male.
“He would look around the room a lot. Really just watching us like, who are these people and where am I? ” said MacArthur.
14-year-old Blueberry had recently transitioned to life indoors, a detail Macarthur’s cat sitter was unaware of when she had let her out a few days earlier.
“I called the cat sitter right away. I’m like, ‘Where’s my cat?’ Actually, what I said was, ‘What’s this cat’s name because that’s not Blueberry’,” she recalled. “They said, ‘Well, Blueberry had disappeared for a couple of days. And then a couple days later, this cat wandered up. So we thought it was Blueberry.’ “
From Over 2,000 miles away, MacArthur began her search for Blueberry. Without much luck finding her through word of mouth or animal control, Macarthur took to Facebook.
“I posted on Sitka Chatters but you know a picture of my cat Blueberry and a picture of the other cat which I called ‘Not Blueberry’ because I didn’t know the cat’s name at the time,” MacArthur explained. “And pretty quickly, a woman contacted me and said that she thought that was her cat possibly.”
The woman in question was none other than Mary Pierce, who’d been mourning the death of her cat Billy. That all changed when Pierce got a call from her cousin, who’d seen MacArthur’s Facebook post .
“She was like ‘Billy, Billy’s alive!’ She initially was the first one who saw it and then she like tagged my sisters in it, too. And so then they were like, ‘Mary, you need to go get him,'” said Pierce. “I was like ‘Guys, what if it’s not really Billy? ‘”
Although excited at the thought that her cat may be alive, Pierce feared it was unrealistic. Despite her reservations Pierce met up with MacArthur. It didn’t take long for her worries to be dispelled.
“So she came by shortly after and sure enough it was Billy, and we were all in shock,” said Pierce. “hWe thought he was dead and now he’s alive. It wasn’t just like our family who was mourning him. All these people were so sad that Billy was gone.”
Although she’s overjoyed to have her cat back, Billy’s resurrection is taking some getting used to.
“I’ll hear him meow and I’ll be like you’re alive again, like it’s a weird I just don’t know how to like process it,” Pierce said.
We may never know the identity of the cat Pierce buried — but it wasn’t Blueberry. MacArthur says Pierce was overwhelmed with joy to be reunited with Billy. And despite losing her own cat, MacArthur was happy she could be part of their reunion.
MacArthur is still on the lookout for Blueberry, who’s been lost now for over two weeks. For those in the Sitka community MacArthur has a message:
“When you’re out and about walking or whatever, just feel free to like call out Blueberry or spread the word to your neighbors. If you see a dark colored cat walking around, slow down and check it out for me.
MacArthur holds out hope she’ll be reunited with her soon.