The gray cat perched on a curb, a blurry view of the traffic rushing by on Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard in Oregon City.
It was a dangerous place. The Rivershore Hotel loomed in the background. Beyond the Willamette River.
The cat had lived here since 2018, roamed the hotel grounds and mostly went unnoticed, unless someone was kind enough to leave out a bowl of food.
That changed two weeks ago.
Carmela Nielsen, from Gladstone, caught a glimpse of the cat sitting calmly a few feet from the buzz of cars as she went to dinner with her sister and daughter.
This sighting started an unlikely series of events that brought three women and owner Keesha Davis – all strangers – together to make the reunion possible.
It had been three years since Davis, 49, saw her beloved cat.
He escaped the night Davis nearly lost her life in an explosive attack – not far from where Nielsen first discovered him.
The story of the tuxedo cat with the distinctive white patch of fur on its face begins in May 2018.
Davis and her then-boyfriend Eric Alsobrook had left Washington and ended up in Oregon City in hopes of getting a job as camp host at Clackamette Park.
Davis’ dog Penny was with her. It was her cat too. Baloo was his name.
Baloo was unusually intelligent. He nudged his scratching post when he wanted it in a sunnier place. He was an outdoor cat with street wisdom. He knew he had to stay away from cars. He was a prolific moult.
He often meowed and was rarely tired of Davis’s affection.
Baloo before he went missing in 2018. Courtesy Keesha Davis
Davis rescued Baloo from a Seattle animal shelter when he was about a year old. The two had been together for about four years when they first arrived in Oregon.
Baloo was in the RV that night in May when Alsobrook suddenly became furious.
He unleashed a relentlessly violent assault on Davis, cut her face open with a knife, and dug the blade into her head, neck and chest. He pierced her lungs. He smashed her eye sockets. He broke her nose and knocked out her teeth. She suffered a brain injury.
Davis thought of Baloo, dazed and frightened. She worried that the attack had startled him and that he would escape from the RV.
Alsobrook escaped in the RV with Davis in it and ended up in downtown Oregon City, where police confronted him.
Davis got out of the motor home. Her eyes were swollen shut. Her body was covered in blood. She approached a stunned policeman.
She remembers telling the policeman, “He said he was going to murder me.”
Davis ended up in the hospital for six days. She remembers little from that time. She suspects that her brain has sealed off some memories to protect itself from the horror she had to endure.
Alsobrook ended up in jail. He was convicted of attempted murder and other crimes. He was sentenced to a little over a decade.
At some point while she was in the hospital, she remembers asking about Baloo and Penny.
Clackamette Park, where Baloo went missing in 2018. He was found in the grounds of a hotel just down the street. Beth Nakamura | Oregonian / OregonLive
Penny was safe. She had been picked up by the authorities and was waiting for her.
But Baloo was gone.
The warehouse keepers and others looked for him, but he never showed up.
In time, the scars on Davis’ body would heal. She would then receive intensive therapy to deal with the trauma. She moved out of the state and started rebuilding her life.
But Baloo’s disappearance left a void she could never fill, no matter how much time passed.
She was heartbroken.
“I wanted nothing more than to have him back, nothing in the world,” she said. “That moved me to tears. That was the worst of all, believe it or not. “
Every now and then, she would scroll through lost pet pages on Facebook and other social media sites. After Baloo’s disappearance, she published information about Baloo on several pages.
One night last week she thought of him.
She went online and found her original post about him from three years ago.
On a page devoted to the lost pets in Clackamas County, she typed a brief comment that brought it back to the top of the page:
“Still hold hope.”
Keesha Davies reunites with Baloo after a long breakup. The two are pictured in a veterinarian’s office in Oregon City. Beth Nakamura | Oregonian / OregonLive
And that’s exactly what Kellie Griffiths saw one night while looking for information on her own lost cat, Church.
Church was an outdoor cat who had disappeared in the scorching heat of the previous month. The place in Oak Grove where Griffiths and her family lived caught fire when the propane tank on their grill exploded.
You have lost everything – including the Church.
Griffiths had posted about her own search on the internet.
Nielsen, the Gladstone woman, saw Griffiths’ post and mentioned the gray cat she had seen on McLoughlin. Griffiths walked past the hotel to see.
She saw a gray cat resting in a small clearing.
But the cat with the unique marks on its face was not a church.
At home, she went online to see if there were any updates.
Then she saw Davis’s post and the photo of Baloo.
It was the same cat she had seen that day.
She held out her hand to Davis.
“I’m 100 percent sure this is your cat,” she said.
“I wanted nothing more than to have him back, nothing in the world,” said Keesha Davis of her cat Baloo. Courtesy of Keesha Davis and our Cat Rescue Community
It seemed hopeful to Davis. Baloo had an uncanny knack for staying out of traffic.
“Could it be my cat?” She wondered.
If a cat could do it, she thought, it would be Baloo.
Davis contacted Janice Saban, who runs a small volunteer cat rescue group in Clackamas County called Our Community Cat Rescue.
Saban, who lives in Gladstone, got to work. She asked Nielsen if she could go back to the hotel grounds and set a trap for the gray cat.
When Nielsen checked the trap the next morning, she found the gray cat in it.
She carefully put the cat in her car and went to Saban’s.
Saban had a pet microchip scanner that she bought with bottle returns. She and Nielsen called Davis.
Davis read the code on Baloo’s chip aloud.
One after the other, the numbers matched.
“It was like listening to a lottery winner,” said Saban.
When Davis finished, all three women were in tears.
The gray cat was Baloo.
It was like he’d been waiting for Davis the whole time, said Nielsen.
Davis returned to Oregon this week to pick up Baloo.
It looked a little thinner, but still had the same charisma. He reached out to Davis immediately and has not left her side since they reunited.
Baloo’s face markings helped identify him. Courtesy Keesha Davis
He eats raw chicken liver and salmon. He curled up for long naps.
Upon examination, it was found that he was not underweight and was indeed in good health.
But his days of wandering in the outside world are over. From now on, at Davis’ urging, he has to be content with being an indoor cat.
“I feel whole again,” she said. “There was always a ship with losses. I lost a lot in the process. And this loss was the most heartbreaking. “
– Noelle Crombie; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-276-7184; @noellecrombie