New Orleans – The venerable orange tabby known as Catley Pinkerton f/k/a Hadley Pinkerton made a shocking return to her family home Friday night after a mysterious 20-day catley_wanted.jpgabsence. The beloved pet, who had been missing since December 11, suddenly reappeared at the back door during the third quarter of LSU’s lopsided win over Miami in the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl.

A tearful reunion followed. “She didn’t come back from her evening stroll around the backyard,” recalls her longtime mother/companion, Meredith Pinkerton. “For days, we crawled under the house and the deck, canvassed the neighborhood, called the animal shelters, posted signs, offered a reward, and took out an ad in the paper. We had some leads, but it was always the wrong cat. We had pretty much given up hope.”
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Her family can only speculate as to where and how Catley spent the past fortnight. But previous conjecture she was being spoiled by an elderly matron in a St. Charles Avenue mansion has been ruled out as overly optimistic. Upon her return, Catley had lost 35 percent of her body weight and had the aroma of a post-Katrina curbside refrigerator.

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A leading theory is she was trapped in the garage of one of the many neighbors who have not permanently returned to the area since the hurricane. Others believe the cat, having suffered a stroke in the past, wandered off after falling ill, or even left voluntarily, vowing to escape the well-intentioned but rough treatment of Hadley and Spencer, the family’s 3-year old toddler and 12-year old longhaired male cat, respectively. Still another possibilty is she was ensnared under the patio deck. In fact, the family’s nephew Wilton Pinkerton, 10, visting from Atlanta, now claims he saw the cat under the deck earlier in the day as he was retrieving a soccer ball. But a prolonged entrapment under the deck seems unlikey given the extensive search in that very area and the certainty Catley’s distinctive, arguably strident meowing would have been detected in such close proximity.

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“I guess we’re not getting a dog, but that’s OK,” says Catley’s step-father/companion, Michael H. Pinkerton. He plans to resume regular use of Claritin sinus medication to keep his severe cat allergies in check and claims his morning chore of cleaning excrement from his bathtub – Catley’s aversion to litter boxes is well documented – was actually missed during the hiatus. “The important thing is that she’s safe and sound and back home.”

Since her return, the family veterinarian has examined the cat and recommended plenty of rest and a high-protein cat food to compensate for the weight loss. Catley is expected to make a full recovery.

(Photos courtesy of Jenny Lane Designs)