SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Cat beats odds against grizzly
Anchorage Daily News


November 16, 2007
Friday AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The night Banger the cat vanished, a neighbor heard the black-and-gray tabby yowling. He ran outside and saw Banger dangling from the mouth of a grizzly that had roamed into the yard and left with a cat snack.

So much for Banger, owner Allison Sayer figured.

Until two weeks ago.

Four months after disappearing into the Eagle River woods, the cat reappeared less than half a mile from where it was last seen, 2 pounds lighter but otherwise intact.

Banger's fantastic journey lasted another week, long enough for a visit to the vet and plane ride to her owner's new home in Sitka.

Sayer, 28, didn't see the "Wild Kingdom" encounter her neighbor described. Maybe a bear took the cat and lost interest, she said. Or maybe the neighbor didn't see what he thought he saw. Maybe it was a rabbit, not a cat.

What Sayer knows for sure is that a grizzly was hanging out near her home, not far from a salmon stream, early this summer. One day the bear visited her porch. A few days later, Banger went bye-bye and the neighbor told his story.

Sayer -- a graduate student in biology who just started a job with the state Department of Fish & Game -- assumed the worst: "I was pretty sure she was dead."

After about a month, Sayer stopped putting out food for Banger. She comforted herself with Banger's sister, Growler, and went on with life. She got a job as a research analyst and moved to Sitka with Growler in early October.

On Oct. 27, more than four months after Banger was last seen, a woman from Eagle River called.

The cat was back, still wearing a collar with Sayer's cell phone number. Banger was emaciated -- down from 10 pounds to 8 -- but otherwise OK. No open wounds or missing parts.

If a bear really did snatch her, she's one lucky kitty.

Rick Sinnott, a bear expert with Fish & Game, said grizzlies occasionally take cats. But cats rarely escape.

"They usually don't pick them up very daintily," he said. "And they don't play with their food the way cats do."

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