When Jaden France lost his best friend of the past six years, volunteers at the Duke Memorial Redwood Area Animal Shelter were there for him.
Jaden France, a fourth grader at Reede Gray Elementary School, missed Kiki, his cat.
Jaden was three years old and recovering from open-heart surgery when his mom, Michelle, first brought home the orange cat.
“I found Kiki abandoned right outside my car one day at work,” said Michelle. “I heard this mewing, and saw this teensy-teensy cat trotting out of a bush.”
Michelle couldn’t resist. She took the cat home, where he instantly became Jaden’s best friend.
“Kiki was my first cat, and he made me feel better,” Jaden said.
Flash forward six years, to last September.
Michelle and Jaden were at Michelle’s parents’ house in North Redwood.
They let Kiki out for a few minutes — and this time Kiki didn’t come back.
Nearly three months passed.
“Jaden shed a lot of tears during those two and a half months,” Michelle said. “There are a lot of stray cats in the area, and we thought he had gotten lost with them.”
One day in late November Michelle decided to check the Duke Memorial Redwood Area Animal Shelter’s FaceBook page, just to stay in touch with her animal nature.
There was one cat pictured there....
“I thought, ‘Omigosh! He’s lost a lot of weight, but that looks like our cat!’” she said.
One frantic phone message later, Michelle got a call back from an animal shelter volunteer.
Michelle asked was that cat still there? Did that cat have a white tip on his tail? Did he have those markings on his head?
The cat was, he did, and the he did.
Michelle and Jaden rushed to the shelter that evening.
“Jaden cried and cried, he was so happy,” said Michelle. “The volunteers said Kiki had been found in a dumpster behind Pizza Ranch.”
Kiki’s nearly three months practicing being feral came at a cost.
“He’s lost his voice,” said Michelle. “He used to talk all the time, but now a sound barely comes out.
“The people at the animal shelter were extremely happy to reunite our family. It’s a good thing some people care so much,” Michelle said.