Rescuers Drive HOURS To Save An Abandoned Cat Living At A Rest Stop In Montana

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Everyday, millions of people spend hours scrolling through social media sights. Our Facebook, Instagram, and whatever else’s pages are FULL of everything you can imagine–and much you cannot. And you can tell who the animal lovers are fairly easily. Those in animal rescue? Even more so. Because our feeds are filled with the sad faces of the animals who need help the most. To balance that out thankfully, there ARE lots of stories of successful rescues, healed hearts and happy survivors! How do we get those posts though? Well it’s because of the rescuers who jump into action to save these desperate animals. And just like this story of one couple who drove hours to save an abandoned cat at a rest stop, the world can’t get enough of these happy endings!

So how does one learn of an abandoned cat at a rest stop…nowhere NEAR where you live? 

Well the “world wide web” of course! It was on the Bitter Root Animal Lost & Found Facebook page that Rachel Burk came across the plea in early August 2019. Initially, there was a post created on the local Craigslist page about the black cat, but it has since been removed.

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets

When Rachel heard of the cat living at a rest stop near the Idaho/Montana border, she couldn’t shake the desire to help. And as a life long animal lover, Rachel is happy to lend a helping hand to those in need. Even if that was a cat that was an approximately 2 hours drive away from her…ONE WAY!

And we all know maps say one thing, construction says “Nope, wait for us”, and Mother Nature says “Hold on, I’m bringing a spicy dish to the party too!”. 

From their home in Stevensville, Montana, Rachel and her boyfriend, Joe Gordon headed West to Saltese, Montana. The rest stop was off of Highway 90 near the small town of Taft, and the last rest stop before the Idaho border.

Image: Google Maps

The first time the duo made the trek, it was a 3-hour drive thanks to the dreaded road construction. And being surrounded by mountains, there is NO way around it. But they finally arrived and actually were able to see the cat. 

See the cat, leave food for the cat…but not catch the cat. Rachel shared her trapping attempts on the Facebook post and of course, we’ve all been here, right?.

We drove there tonight-our trap wasn’t working right!! The cat came out near us and ate, meowed and rolled around near me but wouldn’t let me get her/him. 

Hi, hope this is allowed—looking to borrow a live trap for Friday. 
I am very trustworthy and easy to track down. ? We own a business in Stevensville and most everyone knows our crazy cat family. Haha

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets

But Rachel and Joe weren’t the only ones driving hundreds of miles to the rest stop for this purrticular feline. 

When the posting went up, numerous people had taken action.

One woman, Cheri Hartless, had inquired on the Craigslist ad and shared her update after receiving a reply.

The lady I emailed got back to me. Apparently she saw [the cat] on 8/4. Her post got shared, and a lady named Lorna is trying to live trap it. She is going back tonight and checking. She has experience doing this I was told, so let’s hope she is successful. The caretaker at the rest area is aware of what’s going on.

Lorna Bolton, from Wallace, Idaho was the first woman who had reached out and begun her rescue efforts. She also lived quite a distance from the rest stop too. And so far, she had been unsuccessful during her first…and second attempts. The cat was proving to be very wily indeed.

Today is the second day she’s been trying to trap it. She sounds pretty experienced at trapping & transporting cats. She had a hold of the kitty at one point the other night. But the sprinklers came on, scared the cat and the lady got scratched up.

That’s when she went back home and came back with the trap. 40 miles round trip for her each time.

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets

No one would give up on the sweet black cat though. 

Over the next few days, both parties and even some of their relatives, returned to the rest stop. And each time, the cat approached them easily and confidently. However, at the last second, managed to evade capture. 

There is tons of food being left there, which is good for kitty, bad for trapping and saving the cat. Kitty will need to be hungry to catch it.

The night of August 10th, Rachel and Joe had planned to return to the location. That was when Mother Nature showed up, fashionably late in the day. In the form of a severe hailstorm, complete with lightening. So, not quite ideal conditions for trapping a skittish cat in the middle of nowhere.

Burk recalled the account for local reporters later. 

“We ended up being out there in the rain like idiots trying to find this cat,” she said. “My boyfriend first saw him inside a culvert, but a bunch of ATV’s flew by and scared him. We then spotted him in what must have been his little home under a big weed.

“I kept talking to him and he kept talking back, but he didn’t want come out,” Burk said. “We had borrowed a live trap and decided we were going to leave that and come back the next day.”

As she started to walk away, “it meowed really loud and it started to follow me,” she said. “I set some treats on the ground and started talking to him. He let me pet him. After a couple of pets, I grabbed him and picked him up. “He meowed a lot but didn’t scratch me,” she said. “I opened the car door and put him a towel in the back seat.”

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets

With that, the feline left the rest stop in his rear view mirror and headed off to a new life. 

Rachel made a vet appointment for August 12th, and thankfully the cat had no visible injuries requiring immediate attention. So the gorgeous black cat was welcomed into their home to adjust to life inside.

Kitty loves pettings. Won’t sit still for photos because anytime we are near, he just wants lovings. Eats well and is resting. We are hoping to get to vet tomorrow; we are not going to force it and stress it. If it has to be a few days then so be it-we are just focused on taking care of little Buddy. Will update as we go. ?

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets

When they made it to the vet finally, there was good and bad news. 

Update on kitty: We went to vet, they had to push back our appointment until next week due to an emergency today. Scanned our boy though—HE HAS A CHIP. He traces back to Midland, TEXAS!! 

Called the guy, he apparently gave the cat to [a “boyfriend’s girlfriend’s sister or something like that”]. No idea how it got to Montana, but his name was Jaeger. [The man] does not want it. So this cat is now ours!

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets; Rachel and Taft

Now Buddy, also nicknamed Taft after the town in which the rest stop is located, is settling into his new life nicely.

“There was a lot of worry about what was going to happen with this cat,” she said. “I don’t know if it could tell that I was cat person or what, but I think Buddy has found a new home here.”

Photo: Facebook Group @BRVLostFoundPets

Thank you to Rachel, Joe, Lorna and everyone else who helped this one little soul find his path on the road of life! Kind of resembles someone I’m very fond of…#BlackCatsRock

My heart, my soul, my black cat Cole <3 @ColeandMarmalde


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