POWELL, Tenn. (WATE)- The Stewart family said a bittersweet goodbye to their new furry family member Saturday morning, reuniting the cat with the family who had been searching for him for months.
One day in June, a cat wandered onto Valerie and Norman Stewart’s patio at their home in Powell.
Valerie Stewart said she was never a cat person, but this cat was super friendly.
Valerie Stewart is not a cat person, but …
She at first didn’t want to feed what could’ve been a stray cat, afraid he would continue to come around.
After a few days, the cat kept showing up, so the Stewart’s decided to take him in as their own but keeping him as an outdoor cat.
“Then we went to Italy for two weeks, and my son-in-law came over and fed him. When we came back from Italy, to our surprise he was still here,” Valerie Stewart said.
Her grandchildren named the cat Balboa, because they recently adopted a puppy named Rocky.
The ‘stray’ gets a new name, Balboa
Valerie Stewart said Balboa would run-up to her when she got home from work, rubbing against her leg.
Balboa and Rocky got along and the grandchildren loved him.
For three months, Balboa was becoming a part of the family, and Valeria Stewart started to realize why people liked cats.
Earlier this week, Valerie Stewart took one of her grandchildren to PetSmart.
“He just wanted to look at snakes,” Stewart said.
Reptiles, toys and treats weren’t all that they found.
A ‘lost cat’ poster
“When we got there, we were just walking around the store and I saw a poster and it looked like (Balboa), but it seemed smaller,” Valerie Stewart said.
She asked her grandson if he thought their cat looked like the cat in the picture, and he said it looked similar, but the coloring was a little different.
Valerie Stewart then asked her husband to stop by PetSmart the next day to look at the flyer and see what he thought.
Norman Stewart decided to call the number on the flyer, and sure enough, their cat wasn’t Balboa, his name was Blue.
How the cat got lost
In June, Donna Banks, her husband and her 11-year-old son Owen were moving from Chicago to Hilton Head.
They stopped at the Super 8 Motel in Powell to break up the trip, and stayed the night.
Donna Banks and Owen left first, separating their dogs from Blue for the trip.
Her husband though, couldn’t find Blue.
“Blue is kind of an indoor/outdoor cat and he was just desperate to get out. So, he broke out of the hotel room,” Banks said.
Mr. Banks stayed in Powell two more days looking for their family pet, without luck.
Donna Banks drove back to Powell herself, thinking Blue might respond better to her voice.
“I came up and called and called and walked around the neighborhoods and couldn’t find him, so I turned around and went home,” she said.
Never giving up hope, Donna Banks called the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and asked them to post flyers around the Powell area of their missing Blue.
Three months later, she knew she was blessed with a miracle.
“We were very sad because we felt like there was nothing much we could do because we didn’t live in this part of the country to be able to look for him or keep up an effort,” Donna Banks said.
She said it was a blessing.
Valerie Stewart knew they had to give Blue back to his family.
“If we lost Ollie or Rocky, then I can’t even imagine losing our puppy or pet,” Stewart said.
Owen and Donna Banks were very happy they were able to bring their Blue back home.
“We’re just so grateful for the Stewart’s, and for the officer who really helped us, Debbie Carter, who really just went above and beyond, and for PetSmart who had the flyer,” Banks said.
Valerie Stewart said she didn’t want the reward that the Banks’ offered on the flyer.
She said that knowing Blue was returning to Owen and his family was enough of a reward.