The long, unhappy tail of the Lewis family and their runaway calico cat Noe

(Photo used by permission of Judy Lewis)
After four search parties failed to find Noe the cat, the Lewises held a memorial for their beloved pet in their backyard.

Losing a pet is every owner’s worst fear. But for the Lewis family, that fear came true.

The Lewises adopted their cat Noe in 2008.

Noe is a long-haired calico cat. She has a white belly and black-and-brown stripes with a white-and-brown face. And she has a long, fluffy, black-and-brown striped tail.

“She has a really beautiful face,” Judy Lewis said.

“People often comment on what a beautiful cat she is.”

Noe was only a few months old when the Lewises daughter, Becky, ‘00, visited Charlotte Nichols, ‘00, in San Francisco.

Nichols was fostering a group of kittens, so Becky decided to bring one home.

The kittens were all named after regions in the Bay Area. Noe is named after the Noe Valley.

Since then, Noe had lived a happy and luxurious life with the Lewises in Sacramento.

“Noe mostly likes to sleep, eat and sit on me when I sit down,” Judy said.

She said Noe has two favorite toys: a shoelace and a curly pipe cleaner.

“She likes to whack at and chase the curly pipe cleaner around,” Judy said.

But one day in May that all changed.

Noe had been outside playing with the Lewises’ dog, Duke, when she suddenly disappeared.

It took a while for the Lewises to notice that she wasn’t around, but by the time they did, it was too late.

“It was two days before our cousin Aleck’s college graduation, which made it even more devastating,” Steven Lewis, Becky’s father, said.

“We were going to have to leave in just two days for New Orleans, so we had to find Noe quickly.”

The Lewises began their search by scouring the neighborhood for hours on end.

They created posters with a photo of Noe and posted them all around their neighborhood.

“We spent hours just walking the streets in our neighborhood, calling Noe’s name,” Steven said.

“Eventually time ran out, so we had to stop and leave for New Orleans.”

Francie Neukom, ‘04, was supposed to house sit for the Lewises while they were away, so they enlisted her help in finding Noe.

Instead of taking care of Noe, Francie spent her days searching the streets for her.

Francie also asked her father,  teacher Daniel Neukom, to help her find Noe.

In addition, Nichols helped with the search.

But even with four search parties looking for her, Noe was not found.

The Lewises returned from New Orleans after a few days, and resumed their search.

“We just felt defeated,” Steven said. “We began to give up hope.”

In a final effort to find their missing cat, the Lewises placed an ad in their neighborhood’s electronic bulletin with a picture and description of Noe.

Then one afternoon, 10 days after Noe’s disappearance, the Lewises received a phone call.

“The caller said he had seen the remains of a cat that looked just like Noe,” Steven said.

When they arrived at the location, the Lewises found Noe’s tail.

“It was just heartbreaking,” Steven said. “We were already very sad, but this just broke us.”

The family conducted a small service in their backyard for their best friend Noe.

“We buried her tail with some of her favorite toys,” Steven said.

With heavy hearts, the Lewises tried their best to move on with their lives.

But just two days later, a little furry friend showed up at the Lewises’ back door.

It was Noe.

“It was just the most wonderful feeling,” Steven said.

“We were just shocked, and very excited to see her. She even had her tail!”

Noe had been missing 13 days and returned unharmed.

An inside cat for over eight years, she had not had much experience outside.

Despite her lack of expertise, Noe returned to her roots and gifted her owners with a homecoming present from her adventures in the great outdoors.

“When she got home, she coughed up a huge hairball with a mouse in it,” Steven said.

The Lewises weren’t the only ones excited to see her back; Duke was also overjoyed.

“Our dog would not leave her alone when she got home,” Steven said.

“He licked her all over and followed her around the whole house.”

Cat lover teacher Patricia Fels had been following the entire story as it unfolded. When she heard that Noe had returned from the dead, she was immediately reminded of a common Easter saying.

Fels called up Francie and said, “She is risen.”

And her daughter properly replied, “She is risen indeed.”

By Jack Christian

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