Cat walks 12 miles back to old home after family leaves St. Johns for Parkrose Heights
When the Campions’ 2-year-old orange tabby went missing shortly after the family moved across town in May, their friends suggested checking the old house.
They had heard the stories. Cats do this. Humans may get lost trying to navigate Portland’s east-west through streets, but felines find a way.
Still, the Campions didn’t think George was that kind of cat. He had never left St. Johns. He wouldn’t know how to trace his way through town.
Plus, their new home is all the way in Parkrose Heights. That’s 12 miles, three interstates. The neighborhoods between have had coyote sightings. Last week, Northeast Portland residents even saw a bear.
But three weeks after George disappeared from his new home, the Campions found him right where friends had suggested — back at their old North Portland home.
“A lot of people from St. Johns have told me they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” Amy Campion said. “I guess it’s true of cats, too.”
The Campions loved living in St. Johns. The neighbors were nice, the community pride was strong. But when they found a deal to buy a home in East Portland, they couldn’t pass it up.
The couple brought their oldest cat over first. She hid in the closet for a day or two, Campion said, then she was fine.
They brought George, usually the friendliest of their three pets, last. He yowled, clawed at the walls then headed for the closet, too.
The Campions spent the rest of that May afternoon moving in their furniture. George must have slipped out while the garage door was open.
They went out that night to look for him — “we met a lot of the neighbors that way,” Campion said — but no one had seen him. When he didn’t turn up, Campion started visiting the shelter to look for him. He’s microchipped, but no one had turned him in to any of the local agencies.
“I was just broken-hearted,” she said.
Campion, a garden writer, had spent months imagining what she would plant in her new yard. Now, she couldn’t bring herself to start without the cat she called her garden buddy.
When he didn’t return, Campion called her old landlord and a few neighbors. Earlier this week, the new renters at her old place called: George had been hanging around the house, begging the new tenants to pet him.
The Campions rushed over to retrieve him. The drive took 25 minutes.
“I couldn’t believe it was him,” Campion said. “He was thinner, but he seemed perfectly fine.”
He didn’t yowl when they brought him again to the new house, but Campion said she won’t let him outside without a leash for a few weeks.
“It was a terrible mistake to let him get out,” Campion said. “I really want people to learn from my mistake. He shouldn’t have gone outside until he was familiar with the new smells and the area.”
— Casey Parks