After going missing for 517 days, “Hamster”, a Franklin family’s treasured cat has been reunited with his family thanks to a Franklin police officer and the Nashville-based Skippy Lou’s Lost and Found Pets Facebook group.
Six-year-old Hamster, an indoor/outdoor cat, enjoyed spending his days exploring outside while his owners were at work. When Hamster did not return to his Brentwood home way back on the evening of August 24, 2018, his owners knew something was very wrong.
“It was midnight and he still had not come home, that was very unusual for him. We normally found him asleep on the back deck in the early evenings and ready for food! But this time he wasn’t there,” said the cat’s owner, Katrina Huckerby.
For weeks then months, Hamster’s family posted the cat’s picture in a neighborhood Facebook group for lost and found items, as well as around their neighborhood and nearby businesses. They received periodic phone calls with tips about possible Hamster sightings, but in the end it was never Hamster.
Katrina and Davis had begun to lose hope that their treasured family member would never be found. Little did they know Hamster was being cared for by Franklin Police Officer Stephanie Cisco and would eventually be reunited with them thanks to a loving Facebook group page.
Officer Cisco, a 21-year veteran with the Franklin Police Department and self-professed animal lover, would check on a colony of cats living behind the Cracker Barrel in Franklin. She and a group of women began caring for the colony three years ago, feeding them but also making use of the counties ‘trap-neuter-release’ program organized through the Williamson County Animal Shelter.
Hamster had somehow traveled 11 miles from his home and joined the same feral colony of cats. Officer Cisco cared for Hamster after he joined the colony in January of 2019. She always knew Hamster was a special cat because he enjoyed attention and affection, traits not typical for a feral cat.
But in late 2019, right before Christmas, Officer Cisco noticed Hamster looking unwell. She took him to an animal hospital to receive medical attention for an eye and upper respiratory infection. She then took Hamster home to care for him and arranged for him to receive more care and treatment at the Williamson County Animal Shelter. But that night she couldn’t sleep.
“Hamster had come to my home and was behaving like your typical housecat would. I couldn’t sleep that night and around 2:30 am, I began checking the Skippy Lou’s Lost and Found Pets Facebook group,” Officer Cisco said. She knew Hamster had to be someone’s pet.
After scrolling through the Facebook group for 45 minutes, Officer Cisco came across Katrina and Davis’ post about Hamster from August 2018. She knew immediately the cat in her home was Hamster.
She sent Katrina a message through Facebook and also left her a voicemail. Katrina and Davis, hesitant to believe another sighting about Hamster, agreed to meet Officer Cisco at the Williamson County Animal Shelter.
“After spending time with him and seeing some of his old quirks come out, we knew it was him,” Katrina said with tears in her eyes. Hamster was finally back with his family after one year and 5 months apart.
Both Officer Cisco and Katrina have been a member of the Skippy Lou’s Facebook group for about two years. Cisco has reunited many pets with their families with the help of the Facebook group, which boasts almost 20,000 group members in Williamson and Davidson counties.
Skippy Lou’s Facebook group founder, Jack Kitsch, started the group to locate lost dog ‘Skippy Lou’ in 2011. Skippy Lou was never found but in her honor, the group was dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their families. “This group proves that a single stone’s ripple can cause an entire wave,” said Kitsch.
Skippy Lou’s Facebook group is just one of tens of millions on Facebook. Over 1.4 billion people use groups every month, and over 400 million people belong to a group that they find meaningful.