Five years after Scrub failed to return home one hot, muggy, post-Katrina night, he’s back with battle scars, a wild side that’s new and his old habit of sleeping underneath a blanket on somebody’s bed.
Jennifer Noble of Biloxi thought the Humane Society of South Mississippi had the wrong cat as she listened last week to a message left on her husband’s office answering machine.
The message said they had a pet brought in with her information on his microchip. She had given away two kittens -- failed attempts to replace Scrub -- and figured the message was about one of those.
“‘Do you have a gray and white cat?’” Noble said a humane society employee asked when she returned the call. Scrub is a Russian blue and tabby, mostly gray with white markings. The other cats had been gray.
“You have my cat! Oh my gosh!” she remembers saying. “That cat has been missing for five years!”
She said the employee replied, “‘Oh my gosh. Well, Merry Christmas!’”
“This is the power of microchipping,” humane society Director Tara High said. “There is no other way that cat would have found its family. This is a very dramatic story with a wonderful ending.”
During the past year, High said the humane society has done more than 7,000 microchips and “we have seen our stray intake go down over 34 percent. The animal-control officers are scanning them before they even come in.”
Scrub, who was about two years old when he disappeared, seems to be in excellent condition, Noble said. A small chunk is missing out of one ear and the other has a scar where the fur didn’t grow back.
He was brought to the humane society, she was told, by a woman who said she had been feeding him as a stray for a month or two and with the cold snap coming in, was concerned he wouldn’t be all right.
The Nobles’ home is in Sunkist, about 15 miles from where Scrub’s benefactor lived on 21st Street in Gulfport.
Scrub had been a gift from Jennifer Noble’s husband, Chris Noble, and prior to Katrina, he was an indoor cat.
“What allowed him to get away,” Jennifer Noble said, “ … with the storm, everybody knows how hot it was and there was no electricity. We had the doors and windows open.
“We tried to keep him in a room. It was so miserably hot.”
She started letting him roam outside and one day, he didn’t come back.
“The scenery was changing every day,” she said. “I honestly think he got disoriented; that he just couldn’t find this way back.
“When we first got him back, for the first few hours he was very, very afraid. He was unsure of his surroundings. He was very jumpy. Then, he calmed down, got a little more relaxed.
“By the time the (Noble) boys went to sleep that first night, he had crawled into their bed. It was such an odd thing. All the other cats I’ve known have been afraid to get under a cover.
“Scrub always slept underneath a blanket on somebody’s bed.
“And that’s exactly what he did. I’ve never seen any other cat do that.
“Today, he still has his moments where he gets a little jumpy,” Noble said. “He is not as docile as he used to be. He’s got a little bit of wild in him and you see it every once in a while.
“That could be his age; he’s six or seven years old now.
“If he could talk,” Noble said, “I’m sure he has quite a story to tell us.”