Long Road Home for Tramp

D. E. Larsen, DVM

“Slow down a minute, Ralph,” Jan said as she was watching the old cat on the edge of Pleasant Valley Bridge in Sweet Home. 

“Turn here,” Jan said, pointing at the bridge.

Ralph turned and headed across the old bridge.

“Stop, stop right here. That cat needs some help.”

Jan almost jumped out of the car before it came to a stop. She crouched down and called softly to the cat. “Here, kitty, kitty,” Jan said as she stretched out her hand and made a couple of short, shuffled steps toward the dusty old tabby cat.

The cat hesitated for a moment as if trying to decide if he should run or not. But something was inviting in this lady’s voice. He eased forward and sniffed at her fingertips. She patted him on the top of his head.

A couple of cars had stopped behind their vehicle, and Ralph was getting a little impatient.

“Hurry it up, Jan. We are holding up traffic.”

A lady started to get out of a car that was a couple of cars back in the line. Jan motioned for her to stay back. 

The old tabby cat moved up to Jan’s knees and pushed against her.  

Jan could feel a stifled purr. She took a deep breath, leaned over, and scooped the old guy up.

Jan slid into the car with the cat and pulled the door shut. The cat leaned into her and purred as Jan stroked his back and sides.

Ralph swallowed and put the car in gear. “I hope this isn’t a mistake,” he said as the car moved forward.

“This is a nice cat,” Jan said. “And he has a collar and a tag.”

“We don’t have time to deal with a stray cat today,” Ralph said.

“We need to find the vet’s office in town,” Jan said.

Ralph pulled over as soon as they were across the bridge. The car with the lady who wanted to help pulled up behind them, and the lady came up to Jan’s window. The cat was now wholly under Jan’s spell as she continued to stroke him with long slow strokes from the top of his head to his tail.

Jan rolled her window down a bit. “Where can we find a vet in town?” she asked.

“There is a clinic in the Safeway shopping center in the middle of town,” the lady said. “Is the kitty okay?”

“I think he is okay, maybe lost, but okay,” Jan said. “He looks a little rough like he has been traveling a bit. He has a tag. We will drop him at the vet’s office. We are headed for Bend and don’t have a lot of time.”


Jan was breathless as she came through the clinic door and perched the cat on the counter in front of Judy.

“We found this cat on the bridge coming into town,” Jan said. “It looks like he needs some help, and we are on our way to Bend.”

“It looks like he has a tag on that collar,” Judy said. “Is he nice?”

“He is the sweetest old thing,” Jan said. “I think he must be lost.”

Judy looked at the tag. “It says Tramp,” Judy read. “I guess that fits. Let me check with the doctor.”

I came out and looked at the cat. He was thin but okay otherwise, and it had a collar and a tag. The tag gave the cat’s name, Tramp. It also had an owner’s name and local phone number. I agreed to keep the cat.

“Thanks a lot, Doc,” Ralph said. “We have to hurry now. We have a meeting in Bend that we will be late for if we don’t get on the road.”

These foundlings were always a problem. Occasionally, the finder would offer to be responsible for the bill if the owner was not found. But most of the time, that expense, whatever it happened to be, fell on the clinic. At least Tramp came with an owner’s name and phone number.

Judy was given the task of calling the owner on the tag. 

“Yes, this is Robert Wilson,” the man said to Judy. “What can I do for you.”

“This is Judy from Sweet Home Veterinary Clinic,” Judy said. “We had a couple find an old cat on Pleasant Valley Bridge this morning. The cat has a tag on its collar with your name and number on the tag.”

“I don’t know what to tell you about that,” Mr. Wilson said. “We don’t own a cat.”

That was great news. We were stuck with finding someone to adopt this cat, not an unusual event for such situations.

  About 30 minutes later, we were still discussing how we would find someone to take the cat, and the phone rang. It was Mr. Wilson, the guy Judy had called about the cat.

  “What does that cat look like?” He asked.

  “It is a brownish tabby cat, neutered male, friendly. He looks a little thin and has sort of a rough hair coat, but otherwise, he is in good shape.” Judy replied.

  “We had a cat about 5 years ago. We had to move to San Francisco for a couple of years. We lost him on the trip down, somewhere in Northern California. His name was Tramp, but I don’t remember a collar. You don’t think that could be him, do you?” 

  “How else do you suppose this cat had Tramp’s collar?” Judy asked.

  “We will come right down and get a look at him.”

  It was not long, and a car pulled up in front of the clinic. Robert and his wife came through the door first, but Susie, their teenage daughter, was right on their heels.  

One look at Tramp, and it became a happy reunion. The daughter opened the cage, and Tramp was instantly on her shoulder and purring, rubbing his face on her neck and face. She was in tears.  

“Susie has suffered for years. We had stopped at a rest stop south of Crescent City, and Tramp got out of the car. The next thing we knew, he was scared by another car and ran into the woods. We looked for him for an hour, but we couldn’t stay there. We had to go on. Susie cried for days.”

“Do you think he has been traveling all these years? That is remarkable,” Judy said.

“It is pretty hard to believe, you saw the immediate recognition by both of them. Pretty remarkable, it will be a happy evening in our house,” Mr. Wilson said. “Do I owe you guys anything?”

“No, we are just happy we didn’t have to find a family to adopt him,” I said.

  The stories Tramp could tell. This was something right out of a Disney movie.

Photo by Gabriel Gheorghe on Unsplash

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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