He’s graced the pages of newspapers. Been spotlighted on local TV stations. The internet has also shared the story of how Ritz the cat reunited with his owner after 16 years of wandering anomalously through Delaware.
But the limelight hasn’t fazed the gray tabby, who since being found nearly a month ago as a vet prepared to put him down, spends most of his time testing furniture to sleep on at the Odessa-area home of Duncan and Caroline Clark.
“I don’t think he cares,” Caroline Clark said of the reporters who’ve visited Ritz. “He sleeps most of the day.”
Ritz’s most recent visit came last week, when a CBS news crew stopped by to do a feature on the feline. The story is scheduled to air on “CBS Evening News” this Friday as part of the “On the Road With Steve Hartman” series.
The story will also air on “CBS Sunday Morning,” but a show spokesperson said “it likely won’t be until June at the earliest.”
News of Ritz’s meeting with its original owner, Jason McKenry, was first shared on Delaware Online/The News Journal on April 28.
The two parted ways in June 2006 when Ritz ran out an open door and vanished. It’s believed the cat, then about 2 years old, hitched a ride on a neighbor’s pickup, jumping out on Route 1, near Route 40.
Background:Ritz the cat vanished in 2006. Moments from being put down, vets found his owner
About two years ago, Emily Russell started feeding Ritz, who began gathering with several other feral cats near her Lums Pond-area home. Because the gray tabby would let her pet him, she named him Tom.
But late last month, the cat showed up injured, including a bone protruding from his right hind leg.
Russell and her father took the kitty to Lums Pond Animal Hospital on May 26, where it looked like the feline would be euthanized. But when a microchip was found in the cat, it resulted in the vets locating McKenry.
McKenry, who lives in Annapolis with his wife, returned to Delaware that night and reunited with Ritz.
“It’s astonishing,” he told Delaware Online/The News Journal.
Because the McKenrys have a full house, which includes two children and two cats, Ritz has been staying with the Clarks, who are his in-laws.
A follow-up visit to the vets found no need to amputate Ritz’s leg – despite the protruding bone.
“He will just continue to get around as he has been,” Clark said. “Doc was impressed by how friendly and docile he is. He doesn’t seem to be in pain. He will live out his life as a disabled, happy cat.”
The first days at the Clarks’, Ritz spent a lot of it sleeping on a cat bed. But since then, he’s found other options.
“He has tested out every upholstered chair in our house and has picked his favorite,” Clark said earlier this month. “An old rocking chair that belonged to my mother! It makes me happy that I didn’t send it to Goodwill!”
He’s eating and gaining weight and purred for the first time last week, she said.
Ritz hasn’t been allowed to leave, other than to use the Clarks’ screened porch where he goes only if someone is in it.
“He won’t go out by himself,” she said. “I think he says, ‘Been there. Done that. I’m happy here.'”
Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @eparra3.