Four young Canberrans probably thought they’d pulled off the purr-fect crime last weekend when they catnapped a large, white feline from the NSW South Coast.
Little did they know the lengths Zoe and Andy Pedashenko would go to to find their pampered pet.
The aptly named Cat was having his usual stroll on Malua Bay Beach on Sunday, 5 October, when he disappeared at about 6 pm.
“We live in Sydney but we have a house in Malua Bay,” says Zoe. “Cat loves going to the beach and lots of people know him as Beach Cat.
“On Sunday evening, we couldn’t find him anywhere and that’s unusual because he’s usually starving.”
A rescue puss, Cat has been with the Pedashenkos for about six years and completely rules the roost. The couple was devastated to have lost him.
After a thorough search, they left the door open and went to bed. When Cat hadn’t returned by the following morning, they redoubled their search efforts, printed out and distributed posters, and appealed for help on Facebook.
Their efforts paid off when a woman rang to say her daughter had spoken to two young women she had seen putting a cat into a box and then loading it into a white dual-cab ute with two young men.
“We put it out there on Facebook and were just hoping they [the thieves] would take him home and some adult would see he was clearly loved and make them take him to a vet,” says Zoe.
That wasn’t the case but, incredibly, a friend-of-a-friend rang saying they believed they knew where Cat was – in Canberra.
Undeterred by a two-and-a-half hour drive, the Pedashenkos jumped in the car and headed off on a wild cat chase to Gungahlin.
“We were a bit worried because we’d been told we might need back-up,” says Zoe.
“After wandering around the neighbourhood, we went to the house and knocked on the door. The bloke who answered said he had no idea about a cat and that a lot of stuff had gone on that weekend.
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“We texted him when we left and told him there was a reward. He texted back and said he didn’t want a reward but that we should come back fast.
“When we got there, he just threw the cat out the door into my husband’s arms. We didn’t even have time to check it was our cat!”
Fortunately, it was, and Cat was reunited with his family just over 24 hours after his disappearance.
His remarkable adventure likely used up one of Cat’s nine lives, but the Pedashenkos are grateful – and amazed – to have him back.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘Did that actually just happen?'” says Zoe.
“It was quite an adventure for him but we will keep closer tabs on him in the future. There will be no unsupervised beach visits.”