When Luna the cat turned up after almost three weeks away from home earlier this fall, it was nothing short of a miracle.

“She slept for days and days and then didn’t even want to go outside,” recalled Bethlehem resident Teresa Wood of her family’s six-year-old indoor/outdoor cat on Monday evening. “[Luna] just kept eating a lot and was just so affectionate and glad to be home.”

The Wood family — Teresa, her husband and their three children — had adopted a new kitten — Kuba — in mid-August. While the addition had caused some strife with Luna, the family was carefully following the advice of their vet and the animal shelter to help everyone feel at home.

Luna’s shelter-mate, the six-year-old Misiu, had become fast friends with the new kitten, and the family’s eldest daughter, Iris, had also grown attached to Kuba.

After the first incident, which could have easily led to Luna being gone for good, the family assessed their options.

They kept Luna indoors, they started using cat pheromones shown to reduce stress, and they were discussing re-homing Kuba. They also were in the midst of picking out a GPS collar for Luna.

After about a week back at home, Luna started yowling at the door — morning and night.

“She was yowling literally non-stop,” recounted Teresa. “I really wondered how her voice was holding up. She was never vocal before, and I think [not going outside] was stressing her out more.”

So the family carefully began to let Luna outside again. She lazed in the yard and headed back inside long before sunset, just like she always had.

“I think it actually made her feel better with the new kitten,” Teresa said. “We would bring them all [Luna, Misiu and Kuba] outside, just while we were there, and because the territory was larger I think Luna didn’t feel so trapped. She’s an outdoor cat; she’s been going outside all her life.”

The Wood family has a big yard and wraparound porch, and Misiu and Luna only go out a few hours a day when the weather is nice. That setup has served the family well, especially with younger kids at home that can leave the door open by accident.

“I know there’s a controversy about letting cats out or not,” said Teresa. “But we’re just really careful pet owners trying to do the best thing.”

Luna Goes Missing … Again

On the afternoon of Oct. 27, almost a month after her return home, Luna was sitting out on the porch. Teresa remembers looking at her while it was still pretty early, on her way inside to cook with her mother.

“[Later,] when I went to call her in, she was just gone,” recalled Teresa.

“We called her, we again put out posters … but I even was hesitant to put [Luna’s second disappearance] out on social media for about a week because I just felt so bad,” she said. “The whole community was so invested and we had been doing everything to get Luna to feel comfortable. We were doing slow introductions and mutual feedings and positive reinforcement with treats … I don’t know. I don’t think Luna ran away on purpose.”

Teresa said that the evening Luna went missing a second time she texted with Christine Kelly, the neighbor who had found Luna in a tree a month earlier. Kelly told Teresa she would be on the lookout … and that she and her partner had heard lots of coyotes and dogs barking that night.

Fifteen days went by, with Teresa’s eventual social media post yielding no sightings of the family’s beloved pet.

“It was so cold at night … it was getting below freezing and we were really worrying,” Teresa said. “I looked up articles that said below 45 degrees cats could get frostbite or hypothermia … it was just really terrible.

“We were grieving and every night I’d call her and call her … all of us did,” she added. “But time just kept going by.”

An Unlikely Second Rescue

But then — last Thursday, around 5 p.m., Teresa got an incoming call from an unknown number.

“The man was like, ‘there’s this cat, I saw your poster…’” she recalled.

The caller, Eddie Qi, was unsure the cat was a match, having just seen a faded old poster from Luna’s first disappearance, and Teresa wasn’t really hopeful since Qi lived all the way across town.

But Teresa’s 16-year-old son Wyatt had just pulled in the driveway with his grandmother and headed over right away.

“We really didn’t think it would be Luna based on the description and where it was,” Teresa said. “But Wyatt called us back on his cell phone and was like, ‘it’s Luna,’ and we were just so amazed. I guess she ran to him and jumped in his arms.”

“She was really skinny — way thinner than last time,” said Teresa. “Since she’s been home, she has been ravenous. When she showed up, she would not stop purring and just kept seeking us out and was so happy to just be in anyone’s arms.”

Luna had somehow survived freezing temperatures, ever-darker nights, coyote-filled woods and made it about two miles across town before setting her sights on a friendly face — Qi and another neighbor — and making her presence known.

“I feel like Luna picks the right people to rescue her … it was the same thing as with Christine; Luna went up to them and kept meowing and following them around,” Teresa said. “I’m so glad she went and was just insistent with some people. I think she just really needed to be rescued.”

Curiously enough, Luna was found near the Wood family’s old house, where Luna had lived for a year when she was first adopted. Teresa’s mother and sister still own that house, but they have a dog that might have kept Luna from showing up on their doorstep.

“To have her disappear again was just awful,” said Teresa on Monday. “How great is it that it’s still a happy ending.”

“We have no words to express how grateful we are for this miracle again,” she wrote in a Facebook update on Friday. “We will be spending the next few days letting Luna rest and recover and assessing what Luna needs. Our deepest gratitude to the forces that kept her safe and brought her home to us again.”

GPS Collar On Backorder; Wood Family Grateful For The Community

Since Luna’s miraculous second return home on Thursday, Teresa reports that the cat has been sleeping and eating a lot.

“She does seem tolerant of the new kitten,” Teresa said. “We’ve had him for three months. But after the second time … we can’t risk losing her again. Maybe she is not going to ever be comfortable [with him.]”

“We’ve talked about it as a family and my sister actually offered to take the new kitten, but we’re seeing if it’s going to work,” she said. “It seems like there is some peace and Luna hasn’t asked to go outside at all.”

While the Wood family had put out a $100 reward for their cat’s safe return, Luna’s rescuers wouldn’t take it.

“They were so nice; they just said ‘buy something for Luna,’” said Teresa.

A new GPS collar for Luna is on backorder until the beginning of December, and Teresa said that Luna will not be going outdoors “no matter how much she meows” until then.

“We’re still hoping it’ll be a happy ending and all three cats will stay living with us,” said Teresa. “If not, we have an alternative; at least [Kuba] would stay in the family.”

“It’s not poor little Kuba’s fault … he’s a great cat,” Teresa made clear. “But, at the same time, we have a responsibility to Luna because we’ve had her for six years. We’re definitely, after two disappearances, just so grateful to have her. We’ll do whatever it takes — even it means some hard decisions for ourselves with giving up the kitten.”

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