Feline with two fractured legs finds his way back home

By Helena Sung
Updated December 24, 2009 07:00 PM
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It’s nothing less than a miracle: Missing 11 days, a 1-year-old, gray-and-white cat named Giggle Blizzard found his way back home on Thanksgiving night – on two broken hind legs. He had dragged himself onto the porch after being hit by a car more than a mile away.

“I lost it. I was so happy,” the cat’s owner, Tracie Steger, 42, tells PEOPLEPets.com. “I jumped up and grabbed him and hugged him.” Then she rushed him to an emergency veterinary hospital.

Steger had been looking for Blizzard since he disappeared from her Spring Hill, Fla., home on Nov. 15.

“All of my cats and dogs are clicker trained and I take them on walks around the block in the evenings,” says Steger. She lets them play off-leash in her front yard because once her cats hear the clicker, she says, they all come running inside for their treats. But on that particular night, all her cats came except Blizzard. “I knew right away something was wrong,” says Steger, a former stockbroker and financial adviser who is studying to be a veterinary technician.

Though it was after midnight, Steger – who has eight cats and two dogs, all rescues – grabbed Margarita, her Golden retriever, and walked through the neighborhood calling Blizzard’s name. At 3:30 a.m., she returned home to make “Lost Cat” flyers and put a posting on Craigslist.com, then went back out in search of her cat until sunrise.

As the days went by, Steger received a flurry of Blizzard sightings. A little girl in the neighborhood said she saw the cat get hit by a car; another caller left a message that she saw a gray cat hobbling around. Each time, Steger rushed to the location where the cat that might be Blizzard was last seen. “But he was never there,” says Steger. “It’s like I was always one step behind.”

On Thanksgiving night, Steger was at home with her family and friends when she heard meowing outside. The last thing she expected to see at the door was Blizzard, but there he was! “He was meowing and he pulled himself into the house,” recalls Steger. “He put his two front legs forward and his back legs kind of zig-zagged and skittled forward to catch up.”

The cat had lost weight and Steger could see his backbone. “He looked around like, ‘I’m home, where’s my dinner? Where’s my turkey?’” laughs Steger, admitting that she put the whole turkey carcass on the floor so Blizzard could pick at it.

Steger then took Blizzard to an emergency veterinary hospital where they gave him pain medication, fluids and antiobiotics. The next morning, they went to the Animal Care Center of Weeki Wachee, where she volunteers. “When I saw his X-rays, that’s when I cried,” recalls Steger. “I could tell his legs were fractured, but I didn’t know how bad they were.” Orthopedic veterinary surgeon Dr. Michael Kern managed to save both legs.

Wanting to share her story, Steger posted an update on Craiglist, urging other pet owners not to give up if they have lost a pet. “If they know they are loved, and your family isn’t going to give up easy on the search, then it may be just enough to bring them home to you,” she wrote.

“It is unbelievable the number of emails I have gotten,” says Steger. “One lady said she found her kitty after three-and-a-half weeks and that she never gave up because of my story. If Giggle Blizzard and I have no other purpose, it’s to share our story. It’s amazing that someone acted on my experience and had a happy outcome.”

In about a month, Blizzard will have his casts removed. In the meantime, he seems to be enjoying the attention of news cameras. “He’s a ham,” says Steger. “He’ll sit there and pose for pictures.”