RIVERHEAD, NY — A cat who was just a heartbeat away from finding a forever home got lost Tuesday outside Petco in Riverhead.
Carolyn Lowry, of Shirley, had been planning to adopt the stray she found while bird-watching in Calverton.
Lowry said she’d been feeding three cats in the woods but found herself growing attached to one in particular, a gray-and-white cat with green eyes she originally called “Mama,” since she was the mother of the kitten living outside. Eventually, Lowry changed the cat’s name to “Birdie” because of the sweet chirping noises she made.
Birdie became so close to Lowry that she’d run to her and jump in her car; she would also lay at her daughter’s feet and wait for tummy rubs, she said.
Lowry was smitten and made plans to bring Birdie home, first trapping her and bringing her to Petco for shots and to be dewormed. Birdie needed to be quarantined for three weeks since Lowry has another cat. But on Tuesday, she’d planned to bring Birdie in for her booster shot and then, to her forever home for Christmas.
She even had a special fish-shaped Christmas stocking and a pile of toys waiting for her new addition, Lowry said.
But when she arrived at Petco, the top of the carrier lifted off and Birdie darted; she believes the cat headed toward Home Depot.
Lowry sprang into action, creating posters that she hung in the area.
She did not leave the Riverhead parking lot all day. “I have been sitting here since 10 a.m. I won’t leave,” she said. “I don’t want to leave her here.”
Describing the cat who won her heart, she said: “She’s so trusting. She trusted me enough to jump up into my car.” And even after two failed attempts to trap her, Lowry was able to catch Birdie by putting food into the crate. “She loves food,” she said. “She eats like a teenage boy.”
Virginia Scudder of The North Fork Country Kids: Rescue and Preservation Through Pedagogy, has brought people out to search the parking lot and has offered a $200 reward through her organization.
Lowry is broken-hearted and wants desperately to find the cat she calls her own. “Every time I had to leave her, I’d watch her in my rearview mirror. She’d sit there, watching me drive away,” she said, her voice catching.
Back at home, Lowry said, the new, matching buffalo plaid stockings wait, filled with the toys Birdie loves. “I just want her home tonight,” she said.