Muscat Back Home 6 Months after Valley Fire

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Muscat Canelli–a cat I suspect of being Buckaroo’s brother given the blue eyes and tiger tail–is back home after an epic 6-month adventure.

He disappeared after returning home from an evacuation forced by the catastrophic Valley Fire last year. His mom wasn’t home when the neighborhood was evacuated, so security officers from the subdivision removed Muscat and delivered him to her down the hill. She spent the next week with Muscat at her father’s house.

Muscat’s home was unharmed in the fire, although nearby homes were destroyed along with hundreds of others.

Returning home was tough on Muscat, since his mom, Nancy Underwood brought along her son, his girlfriend and their dachshund.

That wiener dog was the last straw. Muscat took off.

But he didn’t go far.

Fast-forward six months… Nancy was driving home from dinner late last month and spotted him.

“I pulled over. I don’t even know if I got the car off the road,” she said. Muscat initially walked around the side of the house when she called, but then let her pick him up and that was that.

“He kind of settled into my arms and put his head on my shoulder,” she said.

“I’m so glad to have him home,” Underwood said. “It just shows, you can’t give up hope.”

The people who had been feeding him and letting him indoors on cold nights told her they had heard someone was looking for a cat matching Muscat’s description shortly after he appeared at their house. But then they were told that the cat’s owners had moved away.

Once back home, Muscat quickly settled in and everything went back to normal. He’s his old cocky, playful self.

“It’s like he’s never left,” Underwood said. He clearly doesn’t get why everyone’s making a fuss over him.

Underwood is determined not to go through the same separation trauma again. Muscat was micro-chipped at the time, but no one had thought to check. So she’s now equipped him with something more obvious — a reflective, convict-orange collar that signifies a cat is not supposed to be outside.

It’s part of the so-called “Kitty Convict Project,” aimed at reuniting lost cats with their owners. According to the website, only 5 percent of lost cats are returned home, compared to 26 percent of dogs, in part because it’s not unusual to see a strange cat wandering around the neighborhood. But spot a cat with a convict collar, and you know he belongs to somebody.

Unfortunately, Muscat Canelli doesn’t much like wearing a collar, Underwood said. But “too bad,” she added.

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