After nine days of being lost in temperatures dropping almost to zero degrees, a missing 8-year-old light orange Tabby was found and safely returned to his home by four Pearl River teens. Chester went missing New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31 around noon.
Chester is a therapy cat for the Children of Promise Stable “COPS Barn” located at the Nanuet Outdoor Education Center, formerly St. Agatha.
“He is and has been trained as a therapeutic cat for the children we service at the COPS Barn. Chester has never been off the property in eight years so he may not know his way around,” said Nancy Galdi, COPS Barn Program Director. "He was taken from our stable and last seen off of Carriage Lane in Nanuet."
Galdi and other COPS Barn volunteers searched day and night for Chester, made and distributed fliers all around town. Four Pearl River teens found him on Friday, Jan. 6 and was able to track down a flier with a phone number.
The four were Nash Bade, 17, Vanessa McWilliams, 17, Colleen Kapral, 16, of Pearl River High School, and Jack Christie, 15, who attends a private school. They called and Galdi was reunited with Chester on Jan. 8.
"(Kapral) and her dad found the cat in the backyard. He was on the back porch," said Bade. "We sat out there petting him and our friend brought over cat food and we ... set up a bed with sweatshirts."
"We didn't hear about (the search for a missing cat)," said McWilliams.
"In the morning, we remembered seeing a poster," said Bade. "We went looking for it and found it in ."
Galdi said she was very relieved when she received the phone call:
"They told me that he was an older orange cat and that the tip of his tail was a lighter color than his body, I thought it was Chester, but as soon as they said he had black dots on his nose, I was already grabbing my dog crate, keys and running to my car because I knew for sure that that was him," said Galdi.
After reuniting with Chester, she brought him to the veterinarian immediately. As per the vet's instructions, Galdi is keeping a close eye on Chester and making sure he's kept in the barn for a few days so he can refamiliarize himself with his home.
"The vet said he was dehydrated and gave him fluids," said Galdi. "All his blood checked out fine. He's a survivor."
Galdi and her crew searched high and low for their orange 'survivor.' She checked out every tip and phone call, looking into bushes, swamps and places she had never been to before. She added that there were several false calls where the sighted cat was not Chester or in one case, was roadkill.
"We looked by the general area of the tracks where he was last seen," said Kristie Niblo, a COPS volunteer who helped in the search for Chester. "We put up posters everywhere. It was definitely a tense couple of days.
"We had been searching for days, hours," Galdi said.
On Friday, Jan. 13, the four teens stopped by COPS Barn to check out Chester's home and learn a little about what he does there as a therapy cat. Upon their reunion, Chester went straight to the four teens, who petted him and cuddled with him in their laps.
"Chester makes a great therapy cat because he can sit for long periods of time," said Galdi. "He sits in the children's laps. We have some kids with MS and (petting him) helps them with their fine motor skills."
"I'm happy he's back and that he's safe," said Niblo. "He's a big part of COPS."
"All the kids love him," said Kevin Knorowski, another volunteer.