PITTSBURG — A cat missing since before Thanksgiving has been reunited with his family just in time for Christmas — thanks to community members, as well as students, staff and alumni of Pittsburg State University.
Vicki Neu drove from Basehor, Kansas to PSU’s Russ Hall Wednesday to retrieve her cat, Mr. Peabody, after he leapt from the window of her car more than two weeks previous.
While travelling from their home in Basehor to their home in Kingwood, Texas, Neu and her husband, Rick, passed through Pittsburg. As they passed the university, their dog, Recee, stepped on the window control button. The window rolled down, and out went Mr. Peabody — right in front of campus on Broadway near the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity house.
“We searched for three hours,” Neu said. “But we had to leave.”
Neu’s mother was headed to the hospital for surgery the next morning.
Some may think Recee’s actions were premeditated — cats and dogs aren’t known to get along — but Neu said the two are best friends. Recee even picked Mr. Peabody out during a rescue event at PetSmart.
Heartbroken and worried, Neu called Pittsburg area veterinarians to no avail. Then she created a flyer and took to social media.
The word spread quickly.
Girard High School Teacher and PSU Alum Amy Gray saw a post from Neu on the SEK Humane Society Facebook page. She shared the post and reached out to Neu.
Gray printed flyers, and she and her daughter, Megan Gray, went searching for the cat. They searched on campus, near Mooreman’s and around Fraternity houses on Broadway.
“I knew how I would feel if our cat went missing while we were so far away,” Amy Gray said.
She also enlisted the help of a student from GHS. As part of their senior English project, students complete service projects. Gray asked if any of her students would be willing to put up flyers for service hours, and Haley Hensley came forward.
Hensley and her mother hung flyers all over PSU campus, as well as in the surrounding neighborhood.
“We went door knocking first, but no one had seen him,” Hensley said. “So we started putting up flyers. We put up 50 of them.”
Tuesday, Mr. Peabody showed up at the Student Health Center, just a few hundred yards from where he jumped out of the car. Staff at the health center recognized Mr. Peabody from social media and Neu’s flyer.
Staff members called Neu and sent photographs via text message to let her know he had been found. They also contacted Elizabeth Kutz, who had also been out looking for Mr. Peabody since she saw Amy Gray’s post on Facebook.
Kutz is a local cat rescuer affiliated with Paw Prints on the Heartlands — and a PSU alum. She fosters many cats and offered to take Mr. Peabody in until Neu could arrive to take him home.
“It was like looking for a needle in a haystack trying to find that cat,” Kutz said. “No one would have even known it was him without social media. It was a real team effort.”
Not much is known about Mr. Peabody’s two-week stay in Pittsburg, although he did have some scratches on his face, and unconfirmed stories have surfaced.
Mr. Peabody is said to have made a name for himself on social media among the student body before anyone realized who he was. Snapchat stories and Instagram posts are said to chronicle his adventures eating small snacks snuck out of the dining hall for him and hanging out with students when he was spotted on campus. It is even said that one student snuck him into a dorm in a backpack during one night that was particularly cold; sneaking him back out in the morning.
“I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again,” Neu said Wednesday as the two were reunited. “I’m so thankful for this town and its people and its students. You have an amazing town here.”
She said she was happy to hear about the care students were rumored to have given him.
“When I heard about him being in the backpacks and on campus, I imagined him with little glasses,” she said. “I told my husband he was getting some higher education.”
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.