WEST NEWBURY — When Georgetown Road resident Wendy Willis’ barn cat, Abernathy, went missing on Thanksgiving evening, she feared the feline was gone for good.
But it turns out the kitty was out paying a holiday visit to the neighbors down the road.
“He was in our pine tree — spent the night in the tree,” said Bill Stasiuk of Carlsen Road.
Stasiuk and his wife, Sue, were out walking their son’s dog, Frisco, on Friday evening when they heard a noise and spotted Abernathy up in the tree. They didn’t know who he belonged to and tried unsuccessfully to coax him down.
When he was still up there at 7 the next morning, Sue Stasiuk decided to call police.
In a scene reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting, a police cruiser and two fire vehicles — including the Fire Department’s looming Tower 28 —arrived in her driveway within minutes.
Police officer Danielle Burrill, who responded to the call, contacted Matt Walsh, a West Newbury public dispatcher who she correctly thought might be able to identify the cat’s owner.
Upon hearing of the possibility that her missing cat had been found, Willis, who lives about a tenth of a mile from the Stasiuks, was there “within minutes,” Sue Stasiuk said.
Everyone had been taking turns trying to coax the black cat out of the tree but when Willis called to him, it was clear Abernathy recognized her voice and was eager to get down to see her.
Firefighters Duncan Weaver and David Baker rode in the tower’s bucket up to reach the branch on which a stubborn Abernathy was perched.
“The firemen enjoyed using that big ladder truck it seemed,” Bill Stasiuk said. “They were all so helpful.”
As Weaver stretched out his arms, the wayward kitty stepped into them.
Once back on the ground, Abernathy clung to his owner’s shoulder.
“It was very sweet,” Sue Stasiuk said, adding with a chuckle, “It was a Christmas miracle.”
Later that day, the Stasiuks received an email from Willis letting them know Abernathy was doing just fine and thanking them for helping to bring him home.
“Wendy was so happy – a happy ending,” Bill Stasiuk said.