In late September, as we pulled into an RV park for a long stay, I had to smile as we passed a young couple sitting outside their 1980s vintage Ford van just enjoying the autumn evening. I recalled our five years of traveling/living in a van not much bigger than that. They looked like they were enjoying the vanlife.
Later, as we walked by them, they were still sitting in their chairs, and we stopped, introduced ourselves, and talked about living the vanlife. Their names are Clifford and Hailey. They had only been traveling in the van for six weeks. They’re both from Wisconsin, but had met four years ago in Hawaii where they were living. Their cat, Agent Cooper, popped his head out of the van’s door. He’s a pretty Maine Coon. He was Clifford’s before they met, but quickly bonded with Hailey, who calls him Hobo, because he hangs out by the trash can in the van.
The next day, we saw Clifford and Hailey walking around with sad faces. Agent Cooper had gone exploring outside of the van and didn’t come home. They put up signs and looked for three days. Hobo was gone. Three days later, believing he was dead, they had to leave. We told them we’d keep our eyes out and let them know if we saw him. They gave us their contact info, and the next day they were gone. It was a sad day.
10 days later, Kirsti looked out the window of our motorhome and saw Agent Cooper walking by. She jumped up and ran outside to get a glimpse of him running off behind the RVs. She followed him down the row to some grass where she called his name. He turned to look and then ran off into the woods behind the RV park. Excitedly she called Hailey and Clifford and told them.
They were in Fort Collins, Colorado. It had been nearly two weeks since they left. We found out Hobo’s a sucker for butter, likes tuna in a can, and likes Gravy Lovers cat food. It was night by the time we went to the store and bought his favorite foods. Consequently, Clifford and Hailey made plans to get on a plane the following day and fly back to the park. That night, Kirsti put a pat of butter on a plate under our rig. In the morning, it was obvious a cat had licked it.
The next day, we bought a live trap.
Hailey and Clifford showed up later in the day, and we set up a plan for them to walk around and call for Hobo, then come back that afternoon and hang out with us outside to just talk. We hoped Hobo would hear his owners and come running. We also set up the trap under the motorhome with tuna. The next morning, there were signs that something had been in the trap, but not heavy enough to trigger the door. We thought maybe the cat was too scared to come to the rig, so we moved it to a spot in the nearby woods.
Two more days went by and no cat. On the fourth day, after walking around the park and exploring the woods and river, Hailey and Clifford were again with heavy hearts. The next day, they said they had to leave. They returned to their hotel, planning on going to the airport in the morning and catching a flight out of town and back to the van. Again, we told them we’d keep the trap out as long as we were there. If he showed up, there are ways to get a cat to them wherever they might be.
Kirsti told Hailey that she had heard that those special people who can talk to animals do so through telepathy. So, she told Hailey to think to tell Hobo to go back to the butter, and we placed the can of cat food inside the trap under the rig where the butter was the first night.
At about 2 a.m., Kirsti thought she heard a cat meow. We laid in bed and never heard it again. At about 5 a.m., she couldn’t stand the suspense that a cat might be in the trap. She had to check it. She stepped out and—came back in with a cat in the trap. It was Hobo.
We called Hailey and Clifford at their hotel—waking them up of course. Hailey answered the phone with a sleepy “Hello?”. “We got him!” Kirsti yelled into the phone. She was ecstatic. 45 minutes later they were at the rig, and Hobo was all over them. It was a very sweet and emotional reunion. We talked and watched the cat for another 45 minutes. He started purring when he saw them, and four hours later they told us he hadn’t stopped.
It had been 17 days since Hobo went exploring. They took him to a vet. He had lost six pounds, but he was not in distress or severely dehydrated. Fortunately, Hailey and Clifford couldn’t get a flight out the day they had planned. Instead, they were reunited with their beloved cat. The next day, all three were back at the van in Fort Collins, and Agent Cooper was comfortably sleeping in his own bed on his own blanket with his own toys.
He was one happy cat.