Clients visiting Geneseo Veterinary Clinic will be greeted by a familiar feline face.
After vanishing for nearly five months, the cat, who serves as the clinic's official office greeter, found her way home via the Geneseo animal shelter and animal Web site www.petfinder.com.
"We thought she was long gone," said Linda Pearson, office manager at Geneseo Veterinary Clinic.
The gray-and-white short-haired cat first came to the clinic on a cold Sunday in February of 2011.
"I drove by the office that morning and saw a cat laying outside the door. I thought she was dead and that somebody had, perhaps, left the body outside our door hoping we'd take care of it," explained Pearson.
When she picked up the cat, she realized the animal was still alive — barely.
"I put her in one of our warmers. She was pretty little; just skin on bones. I honestly didn't think she was going to make it," said Pearson.
When she stopped by the office later that evening, the cat was still alive. The clinic's veterinarian, Dr. Roger Pray, gave the cat warming fluids, but Pearson said the feline's prognosis still looked grim.
"When we came in Monday morning, we found she'd escaped from her cage, torn open a bag of cat food and was curled up asleep on an office chair," said Pearson. "We had an opening for an office cat, and she seemed to be applying."
Because of the cat's skinny physique, she was dubbed "Twiggy" after the British model of the same name.
At her new home, the cat Twiggy plumped up, thanks, in part, to a love of cat treats. She also became a favorite of clients and farmers who'd stop by the clinic; regularly hopping up on the office counter to greet visitors.
On March 30, 2012, nearly a year after she'd arrived, Twiggy escaped from the office.
"She'd never done that before," said Pearson. The cat hopped up in the undercarriage of Dr. Pray's truck.
As he drove away, Pray caught a glimpse in his rear view mirror of the cat fleeing the truck near McDonald's and running toward the Hillcrest addition.
"Night and day we were out calling for her. We knocked on doors and even had neighborhood boys out looking for her," said Pearson. "We didn't hear hide nor hair about her. We thought something had probably happened to her, but we also hoped maybe someone had taken her into their home.
"Our clients liked to see her, and so many were upset she was gone. Even the farmers who come in were disappointed she was gone," said Pearson.
Page 2 of 2 - Months passed, and Geneseo Veterinary Clinic staff members were certain their cat was gone for good.
In mid-August, though, veterinary assistant Nikole Cooper began browsing www.petfinder.com looking at animals available for adoption from the Henry County Humane Society - Geneseo.
"She originally started looking at the dogs, but then decided to take a look at the cats, too," said Pearson.
She found a few cats that resembled Twiggy, but it wasn't until Pearson herself started browsing Petfinder that they discovered their cat.
"We were looking online and then there she was," said Pearson. "I had a good photo of Twiggy on my cell phone, so we were comparing that picture to the ones on Petfinder."
Humane society staff had named the cat "Grace," but her details matched those of "Twiggy."
"We were almost positive it was her, but the Petfinder description said nothing about her being front declawed. We knew Twiggy didn't have front claws," explained Pearson.
A call to the humane society confirmed that "Grace" also was declawed.
"The police were the ones who'd brought her to the humane society. We don't know where she was or how she fended for herself," said Pearson.
Though Twiggy had returned to her pre-treat skinny stature, she was otherwise healthy.
"We brought her back to the office and she hopped on the counter and laid down like it was no big deal. It was just like she said, 'I'm back,'" noted Pearson.
Twiggy did, however, remember the special drawer where her treats were kept.
"She is a treat hog," admitted Pearson.
Twiggy now has a microchip, thanks to her stay at the animal shelter, which would help with identification should she stray again. However, there are indications Twiggy has no interest in leaving.
"I had the window open the other day, and I think the outside traffic noise scared her. She was very wary of it," said Pearson.
The Geneseo Veterinary Clinic staff and their clients are happy to see Twiggy back in the office.
"So many of our clients had heard the story of her disappearance. They're glad to see her when they walk in," said Pearson.
She credits www.petfinder.com and the information uploaded on the site by humane society volunteers with helping return Twiggy home.
"It was so helpful and nice and we're so happy to have her back," said Pearson.