Wendy Dahl never lost hope.
Even after so much time had passed since her family's beloved cat Jilly was lost on a trip to Whistler, the Anacortes, Wash. resident held firm to the possibility that she would one day return. But even Dahl couldn't hide her shock when she learned that Jilly had been found alive and well more than a year after she went missing.
"I was absolutely surprised. She is definitely not a live-off-the-land kind of girl," Dahl said of the seven-year-old housecat.
Dahl was staying at a village hotel in November 2014 when her husband took Jilly out for a walk. Despite being on-leash, the cat managed to break free and bolted into some nearby woods. It would be a full 15 months before she was found.
"It's basically a miracle in this kind of environment," explained Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) communications coordinator Catherine Mazza of the unlikely survival story. "Most outdoor cats don't survive long at all, so it's possible someone was feeding her or she found someone's garage to live in that had a source of mice or something like that. It's kind of a mystery."
Jilly was recovered thanks to a pair of local hotel workers who turned her in to WAG, where staff was able to track down her owners' information after a quick microchip scan. But Dahl knows Jilly was probably helped by many more along the way.
"She is our baby, and I will forever be grateful to whoever fed her and the two girls at the Executive Inn who brought her in," said Dahl. "I can't find enough wine to thank all of Whistler."
Today, Jilly is recovering nicely at home. She lost considerable weight and suffered some hair loss during her year-plus odyssey, but has since packed on a couple pounds and is settling back into domestic life.
"She is doing phenomenal," Dahl said. "She ate two cheese sticks on the way home."
But, while Jilly was happy to reconnect with the Dahls and their golden retriever Sunny, there was one new resident she wasn't so eager to share the roost with.
"When she went missing, I was devastated and my husband went and bought another cat a few weeks later," Dahl explained. "Her name's Pepper. Jilly can't stand her."
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