Christine and Steven Taggart never gave up hope they would some day find their Pumpkin.
With persistence and a community of pet lovers on the prowl, the Taggarts’ beloved 14-year-old orange cat was returned, more than eight months after running away.
“It’s very exciting,” Christine Taggart said. “I saw from the Facebook posts that people have been so happy.”
The Taggarts briefly lived in Sequim from last May-September with their three cats at Steven’s mother’s (Char Clark) home after selling their house in Beaverton, Ore. The couple’s plan was to move to Florida, a lifelong dream of Steven’s, Christine said, but the pandemic held the move for a few months.
“My cat Pumpkin is a bit vocal and it was bothering neighbors, so we took him to a friend’s place,” Christine said.
“He escaped through the door, and they thought he would come back because he’s an outside cat.”
Christine said Pumpkin had been hiding under the bed there and on accident the door was left open and the orange cat shot outside.
That was Aug. 15, 2020.
Christine began an effort to find her cat, which was lost about 10 minutes from her mother-in-law’s home. She posted on Next Door, Facebook groups and paid for help via a lost pet program.
At least 20 people swore they found Pumpkin across Sequim and even Port Angeles but “it was never Pumpkin,” Christine said.
“It was always another, different orange cat,” she said.
Christine raised Pumpkin since he was a kitten, she said, and “it was really hard to leave Sequim knowing he was there and we were leaving.”
“Every time there was a good lead, I would cry,” she said. “It was hard to start over in Florida without him.”
Christine, Steven and their two other cats, Pumpkin’s mom Amber and step-brother James, made the trek to Florida.
Giving up wasn’t an option for Christine. Even from the other corner of the country, Christine got help to put up yard signs in the city.
In February, she got a call about a potential sighting by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Christine said her mother-in-law said Pumpkin would only come out if he heard her voice though, so she made the cross-country trek back to find her beloved cat. It turned out to be a different cat owned by a church neighbor, however.
Helen and Marion
Pumpkin was nearby, though. On April 22, Christine got a call from 87-year-old Helen Erickson, a resident at The Fifth Avenue retirement community.
“I saw the cat zipping by my deck through the fence, and the second time my two grandsons were out there and they described it to me,” Erickson said.
Hearing about Christine’s signs, Erickson tracked one down, saw a picture of Pumpkin and called.
“It kind of looked like what I had seen,” Erickson said. “I went to someone else in the facility with a couple of black cats and it seemed like (Pumpkin) had been making friends with them.”
Erickson said Pumpkin had been howling, but was skittish with “the least little noise and it was out of here.”
“I called Christine and talked with her three different times. She got terribly excited,” Erickson said.
In months prior, Christine had connected with Marion Wagner with local nonprofit Spay to Save, and she reached out again to see if Wagner could help with a trap for Pumpkin.
Wagner, a Sequim resident, went to The Fifth Avenue on the evening of April 24 and got permission from management and a resident to place a trap. Overnight, Pumpkin was caught, she said.
“I didn’t expect to trap him, especially so quickly,” Wagner said. “I came out early on Sunday morning and found him.”
Pumpkin was taken to a Port Townsend veterinarian where the cat’s microchip was confirmed. He also received proper paperwork and a vaccine so he could fly to Florida.
Love and microchips
Steven Taggart was able to obtain a discounted airline ticket and fly on April 27, pick up Pumpkin and return late on April 28.
His words were simple after learning Pumpkin was found, Christine said, “‘I love you, and I’ll get the cat for you.’”
Once the two connected in Sequim, Christine said Pumpkin relaxed and kept his eyes on Steven.
She said the response when the cat was first lost and now found has been amazing.
“So many people are so happy,” Christine said. “It shows how many people cared.”
Wagner said Christine never gave up and kept looking and that Pumpkin’s story is a testament to micro-chipping your pets.
“I keep telling people micro-chipping does work,” Wagner said.
“Some people tell me they have an indoor cat and they don’t need it, but the microchip does come in handy … It’s a collar you cannot lose.”
Another cat, Ricky Bobby, was found in Joyce a few weeks ago after about eight months missing, too, she said.
Wagner encourages pet owners to speak with their veterinarian about micro-chipping.