Julie Rowe said it was an “unreal experience” to find her lost cat, Luchs, who had been missing at sea for 10 days.
A family of Auckland boaters find their cat after it fell overboard and disappeared for 10 days.
Luchs, a tabby Bengal, is believed to have overcome harbor currents in the Hauraki Gulf near Kawau Island, swimming to safety.
Owner Julie Rowe said her family was vacationing on a catamaran over Easter weekend when they noticed something was wrong.
“Normally Luchs is very active at night, jumping around the boat, but that evening everything calmed down. In the morning we saw that she was gone.
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The family believed the cat had drowned and spent the whole day searching for Luchs’ body, which they believed had washed up on shore. They found nothing.
Then they were forced to make the “heartbreaking” decision to leave the island because of bad weather.
Rowe posted on the Kawau Island community page, asking residents to keep an eye out for the cat, even though he knew “the odds were slim.”
“I was sure she was gone and I knew my persistence was a little irrational, but I felt guilty because she was only one year old and the kids missed her.”
Rowe learned from residents that cats were a controversial topic in Kawau. She heard locals shooting cats because of their impact on wildlife.
Kawau Island is not free from predators, although Auckland Council has committed nearly $5 million over the next 10 years to pest control.
Fearing that Luchs was in even more danger, Rowe offered a $1,500 bounty to anyone who helped bring the cat back alive. She also pledged another $1,500 donation to DOC.
“My partner is an environmental science professor, so we’re passionate about predator control.”
After 10 days, locals responded to Rowe’s message, saying they had spotted a tabby cat near Schoolhouse Bay, about 3km from where the family had docked.
Rowe took the day off and roamed the island for hours.
She visited a resident who had filmed a cat, but it wasn’t Luchs.
“After spending all day searching, I was ready to give up and call the water taxi, but decided to search for another 15 minutes.”
It was then that Rowe heard a meow, followed by gasps from people nearby.
“She ran towards me. It was an unreal experience. I called my partner, my family and my colleagues to tell them that I had found her, I was so happy.
The Townsend family spent two and a half months cruising around Aotearoa in a 42ft yacht.
Rowe said the cat lost weight and greedily devoured a plate of food she brought him.
Since returning to Auckland, Luchs has been “sticky”, preferring to sleep indoors at night on beds instead of wandering around as usual.
“We are so grateful to have him home. And I contacted DOC to make sure I can donate the bounty to conservation efforts on the island.