Four-year-old Jake the cat didn’t really like camping, but owner Chuck Williams discovered that too late.
On Saturday, June 28, Williams and roommate John Richards had brought Jake to Thousand Trails Campground and RV Park in Pine Cove for a weekend of escaping the desert heat. “We had just joined,” Williams said. “This was our first weekend.”
Williams is a resident of Palm Springs where Jake was born and grew up in the mobile home park where Williams lives and where Jake had become an expert hunter of mice and lizards. “He liked people and was accustomed to roads and blacktop surfaces such as we had where we lived,” he related.
The first night, Jake got out of their vehicle, where he normally stayed when they went camping, wandered around and came back. Later, he got out again but this time did not return.
It would be 40 days and nights before Jake and Williams would be reunited. “We looked all the next day, Sunday the 29th,” he remembered. “The camp staff were great. They helped us look, posted pictures of Jake at the entrance to the camp and throughout the different campsites.” He related how he and Richards returned July 7 and 8 and looked for many hours, calling Jake’s name and asking if anyone had seen him. “We came with flashlights and food and searched for about a quarter-mile radius around where we had camped,” he said. “I had looked up on the computer that a lost cat would just hunker down in the same area and eventually starve,” said Williams, but after days of looking, no luck and no Jake. “We kept praying he would go towards people. He was friendly and he liked walking on roads.”
Williams said the camp manager told them to keep talking to him, telling him what to do and where to go. “But as the weeks stretched out, I pretty much had given up,” said Williams.
But Jake had done just what they had hoped he would. He stayed on a paved surface, found a cabin with a hole under it not far from where Williams had been camping, took up residence and survived by hunting at night in the near vicinity.
Eventually, the posted pictures of the black cat with the white paws paid a dividend and Jake was sighted by a camp employee. “He was seen Thursday, Aug. 7,” said Williams. “We came up the morning of the 8th and went to the cabin where he had been seen coming out from underneath. We brought our dog that he had been raised with. We called Jake’s name and slowly he came out. He saw us and the dog and came to us.”
Williams said Jake had lost 7 of his 20-pound weight but he was alive and other than being traumatized and a bit skittish, was happy to see them. “The first week he wanted to be held all the time but now he’s back to being himself,” he said.
“We won’t be taking him camping again. We just weren’t listening to what Jake was telling us,” he said. “He’s a pretty smart cat.”
Williams said the lesson for him was that Jake had never liked camping, likes being in familiar surroundings and likes being home.
That might resonate with many readers as well.