FORTVILLE — An adventurous house cat has made her way home after spending two months on the lam in Fortville.
The elusive gray and white tabby, named Ellie, became the talk of the town on social media as she spent nearly 60 days popping up in various places, only to escape any attempt to capture her.
Her owners — Austin and Jamie Fisher — can’t thank the community enough for their persistence in bringing the wayward cat home.
Thanks to a slew of ongoing tips on Facebook, Austin’s sister was finally able to capture Ellie last week.
“So glad to have all of our fur babies under one roof,” Jamie posted to Facebook that night, thanking the community for its ongoing support.
The video she posted — of Ellie gratefully receiving plenty of head scratches — elicited more than 100 comments, many from people the Fishers don’t even know who had been following the story.
“We have had so many familiar and unfamiliar faces reach out to us every day with pictures of cats they’ve spotted, trying to help us find Ellie. It’s just crazy how big of a support group we had through all of this,” said Jamie, 26.
She and Austin, 24 — who just recently moved back to Hancock County from Indianapolis — were amazed by the outpouring of support throughout the ordeal.
“We lived in a busy part of Indianapolis, and I seriously doubt we’d have the type of community support in finding a lost cat as we did here in Hancock County,” Jamie said.
“I just think the community is so much better out here. That’s why we moved back,” she said.
Jamie grew up in Greenfield. Austin grew up in Fortville. Both animal lovers, they’ve rarely turned down a chance to bring a new pet into their home, starting with Ellie — who they adopted at just a few months old in 2013.
They now have four cats and three dogs who all get along surprisingly well.
The couple got married in July. On their honeymoon, after living four years in Indianapolis, they made the decision to sell their house and move back closer to family and friends.
The Fishers loaded up their four-legged brood and brought them to Austin’s parents house, in the Wyndstone neighborhood in Fortville, where the couple lived for three weeks while waiting to move into their new house in Greenfield.
Near the end of their stay, not one but two cats escaped out the doggy door.
The first cat to escape — an adventurous brown tabby named Sawyer — was gone 2½ weeks before he was found some 10 miles away in Lapel.
Ellie, however, was gone for two whole months before Austin’s sister, Samantha Louden of Fortville, finally cornered and caught her at a house near their parents’ home.
“We had been getting two to three calls a week with possible sightings of her. We would get calls from people saying ‘we saw her walking on our porch on our doorbell camera’ or ‘hanging out in our backyard with our cats,’” Jamie said.
“We knew she wouldn’t be easy to catch. She’s a spastic cat that doesn’t like to be held or picked up. We told people to grab her by the scruff. That’s the only way you can get her — not with food or by calling her name.”
When Jamie got a call from her husband on Monday, Nov. 16, saying his aunt had spotted Ellie and was sending his sister to go fetch her, she didn’t get her hopes up.
“I said, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it,’” she recalled.
It turns out Ellie had been spending a significant amount of time tucked away in the crawl space of a home just outside Austin’s parents’ neighborhood.
“She basically had been squatting in the crawl space,” Jamie said. “The neighbor who lived there had been feeding her but hadn’t been able to catch her.”
When Austin went to pick up the prodigal cat from his sister, there was no denying it was Ellie. She still had her collar on, but it had gotten twisted around one of her front legs, where it rubbed a sore spot under her fur.
“She was skinny and had a pretty bad injury. We took her to the vet, and they said it is healing nicely. She just needs to gain a couple more pounds,” said Jamie, who is thrilled to have her whole brood back under one roof.
“All of our cats have always been indoor cats. To lose two at the same time was just heartbreaking for us,” she said.
Both she and her husband had suspected they’d never see Ellie again. “Since she had been gone for so long, there was a point where we both just hoped she was happy living with a family somewhere. We didn’t think she would be back,” Jamie said.
It seems two months away from home has given Ellie a better appreciation for home. The typically standoffish tabby has become more affectionate with her humans, at least for now.
“She’s always been pretty content to keep to herself, but she slept on my pillow all night, and she’s been super lovely to all the other animals, which is abnormal,” Jamie said.
She’s hoping that Ellie’s personality shift is permanent, but she’s not holding her breath.
“It’s just good to have her back home in a warm, cozy house,” Jamie said. “This house is new to her, but she found her cat tower that smells like her, so she’s back where she belongs.”