Ollie, the stow-away cat that hitched a ride from Auckland to Whitianga, is safely back home after nine weeks where he was forced to fend for himself. And locked away indoors is exactly where he will be staying until his owners, Scott McCook and partner, Ashlyn Naidu, can arrange to buy a collar with a GPS system to track the wayward moggie, should he ever disappear again.
After weeks and weeks of fearing that their precious Ollie might be lost forever, the couple, both 30, received a call last weekend from a Whitianga woman who photographed what she thought might be the missing feline on the roof of a service building at The Lost Spring.
There had been considerable publicity about Ollie’s adventures or misadventures in The Informer, on Facebook and also by way of flyers distributed in Whitianga by the couple when it became apparent that Ollie had somehow made the 300km trip from Auckland, by what can best be described as a tourist route, through Hamilton to Mercury Bay.
Scott, who works as a rail protection officer for KiwiRail, could not come to Whitianga to help retrieve their beloved Ollie as he had been temporarily seconded to Timaru, but Ashlyn, her mother and sister, Nicole, made the trip. After Ashlyn called out his name a few times, Ollie came out of his hidey-hole onto the roof of the outbuilding and Nicole scrambled up to grab him.
It was more than two months that Ollie was first discovered to be missing from his home in Manurewa, with Scott and Ashlyn left desperately scouring the neighbourhood searching for him. To their astonishment, when they had virtually given up all hope, they received a call some weeks later from a woman in Whitianga who said she had found Ollie’s collar with Ashlyn’s phone number on it.
Ollie’s breakaway collar, which was designed to give under pressure to prevent strangling him, was found wedged under a fence on School Road.
Eventually, the couple surmised that the cat had somehow found a hiding place under the car of Ashlyn’s sister who had been staying with them and who then travelled from Auckland to Hamilton, and then on to Whitianga.
After learning of the collar being found, the couple made a number of visits to Whitianga, posting flyers in letterboxes and with local businesses, and contacting The Informer. And Eureka! The weekend before last, their prayers were answered. “Ollie is home and of all places he was found at The ‘Lost’ Spring,” Scott said ecstatically.
A woman and her son living in an apartment backing onto The Lost Spring property had seen Ollie on the roof of an old building and recognised him from a flyer Scott and Ashlyn had dropped in her mailbox.
Scott thanked The Lost Spring for their help in letting them get their missing cat, despite being busy with customers at the time. “So many people had been following the story,” he said.
He added that Ollie, a stray that they had taken in as a kitten, appeared to be in quite good health. “He was hungry and he was a bit skinnier, but he definitely was not emaciated, so he must have found something to eat.”
Nicole, who trained as a veterinary nurse, told Scott one of Ollie’s toes was a bit sore, but he was otherwise fine. “We have to take him to the vets just to make sure, but he is in pretty good nick, considering he has been out on his own for almost nine weeks,” Scott said.
While acknowledging that there was a lot more to the story than just a cat wandering off, the couple had decided to make sure they were never put through the same heartache again. “We are going to be keeping an eye on Ollie and he won’t be going out until we get a get a GPS tag or tracker for him - and then we will be able to find him wherever he goes,” Scott said. “But it is a really happy ending to the story and we are so elated.”
Pictured is Ollie, the stow-away cat that hitched a ride from Auckland to Whitianga, via Hamilton, who after nine weeks is safely back home.