Cat reunited after 17 months from microchip

Lost crew cat resurfaces
After 17 months, ship gets feline mascot back

The News Journal

When the Kalmar Nyckel's new crew kitten disappeared in May 2007, the crew of the 17th-century replica tall boat searched everywhere for him -- to no avail.

So when they heard this week that the cat was found -- having survived 17 months of apparent roaming around downtown Wilmington -- they were as surprised as they were grateful. On Thursday, Timmynocky -- looking a little thin but a lot bigger than when he wandered off as a 6-month-old kitten last year -- finally returned home.

"We lost a kitty and we got a cat back -- and he's a big cat," said Marcia Ferranto, executive director of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation.

The cat, whose name is sailor slang for whatzit or thingamajiggy, was about 6 months old when he disappeared just weeks after the crew adopted him from a local shelter. He apparently wandered off from Dravo Plaza near the Shipyard Shops, where the Kalmar Nyckel docks between trips.

The crew thought he was on board when they set sail, and as soon as they realized he was missing, a search party was dispatched on the Riverfront to find him, Ferranto said.

"We found his collar but we did not find the cat," Ferranto recalled.

After three months of looking and chasing down dead-end tips on Timmy sightings, the search was called off.

On Monday, Ferranto got a call from the Talleyville Veterinarian Clinic, saying they had found the crew's cat, identifying him as Timmynocky by a microchip that had been implanted under his skin.

"If it wasn't for that chip, Timmy would have been long gone," Ferranto said.

They learned that Wilmington resident Karin Gatenby had found Timmy wandering on Baynard Boulevard and ultimately took him to the clinic that identified him.

On Friday, the grateful crew invited Gatenby to Kalmar Nyckel to thank her, show her Timmy's home and give her a tour of the tall ship.

Timmy, who Ferranto said looked thin and was covered with bugs, nonetheless was greeted warmly by crew members and by fellow crew cat Toolbox, the senior mascot on the Kalmar Nyckel. Timmy also met Lagon, his replacement on the ship -- which brings up another problem:

Due to rules set up by Ferranto, one of the cats, probably Timmy, will be given away because she does not allow more than two cats to be on the ship at the same time. The woman who found him has expressed interest in taking care of him, however.

"We're thrilled to have him back, but my main concern is to do what is best for the cat. Our goal will be to find him a home," Ferranto said, adding that giving him to Gatenby, who took a liking to him, is one option.

His return home also shows the value in having pets identified with microchips.

"Chips are the only sure way you can have your animal returned to you if it gets lost. It's a great tool to be used," Ferranto said. "If you do have a domestic animal, the most prudent thing to do is to have the animal chipped."