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My Christmas Cats

Two months later in November,after Air Canada told Vanessa Summerfield her cat named George went missing at Edmonton International Airport.The cat found by the airline withfrozen body. When Summerfield had a vet check to make sure it was him, the dead cat turned out to be an unidentified female.

On Tuesday, Vanessa the 25-year-old got a phone call from a search volunteer, George had been found by a family in Leduc,10 kilometres south of the airport.He was a little thinner, a little scratched up but healthy.

Summerfield: “When I found out I was convulsing and shaking and crying,” “Christmas came early for me . . . . It’s the best gift I could ever have.”

The approaching winter had her close to losing hope of ever finding the sleek black and white cat.

“It’s been him and I for six years,” she said. She got George as a kitten in Chatham, Ont., and he moved with her to Fort McMurray, Alta.

“I don’t have any family out here,” she said. George — or “li’l bugger” as she fondly calls him — was someone to come home to.

According to Vanessa, The cat was supposed to be going to stay with her parents in Ontario while she looked for a new pet-friendly home.But he escaped his carrier in the cargo hold on his way from Fort McMurray to Edmonton. Air Canada cargo staff managed to put him back in the kennel, but he got loose again while being driven to the baggage room.

A later examination of the kennel showed “a key bolt was missing from the door,” said Angela Mah, an Air Canada spokesperson.

A frantic search was kicked off, and Summerfield was flown down by Air Canada for a day to assist. Posters of George were put up and circulated online via Facebook and Kijiji by cat-loving volunteers in Edmonton and across the country. A $1,000 reward was offered by Summerfield.

On Sunday, George appeared outside Hope Gulseth’s condo in Leduc. She left out food for the wary cat, as well as a small nest of blankets. Two days later, he’d plucked up enough courage to come inside, happily joining the family’s two other cats.

Meanwhile, a Kijiji post by her husband about this new cat — clearly someone’s pet — was found by one the search volunteers.

“When (my husband) told me that the cat had been gone for three months I said, ‘You’re lying!’ ” Gulseth said.

“We had no idea this was a famous kitty.”

While she is delighted that the cat can be reunited with his owner, her 4-year-old son is already attached to the affectionate feline.

He’ll get to spend Christmas with George though — Summerfield and her pet won’t have their first reunion cuddle until the new year, when she gets back from vacation.

Two WestJet employees in Edmonton who volunteered in the search process have offered to personally escort the cat home, keeping him under the seat in the passenger cabin, not in the hold.

Air Canada is also consulting Summerfield on how to reunite the pair, said their spokesperson

The minor towers next to the citizen.


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