PEABODY — No cat owner had done more to find a beloved missing pet than Margaret Kudzma.
After Mini Max went through a loose screen in her third-floor condo in downtown Peabody six years ago, Kudzma tried everything to get him back.
There were posters, online announcements, and newspaper ads. She did a yard-by-yard search of her neighborhood. She joined rescue groups — and even started her own — in searching. She borrowed and set up night-vision game cameras. She hired a pet detective and even a pet psychic.
She never gave up hope, but over time she channeled her focus into helping other cats, some lost and some feral. She started a nonprofit, The Rescue Business.
Then on Tuesday she got a voicemail. It was a veterinarian in Wakefield who had just treated a gray and white cat, brought in by a Revere family who had noticed something wrong with its ears.
The vet, Dr. Samantha Simonelli, had scanned the cat and found Mini Max’s microchip — with Kudzma’s name and contact information.
“All I heard was ‘gray and white’ and I had to put the phone down,” Kudzma said on Friday, as she took a break from getting ready for Mini Max to return.
“We’re all still in shock,” said Kudzma, 57.
The “we” in this story refers to the large group of new friends Kudzma has made since Mini Max disappeared, as well as longtime friends, all with the same goal of helping cats. It was during her search for Mini Max in 2015 and 2016 that she realized the extent of the situation.
Now, she’s part of a network of cat lovers who quickly jump into action when one disappears.
Mini Max had apparently made it to Revere, where, Kudzma was told, he was being fed by a family for some period of time, then eventually moved into their house.
They had taken the cat to the vet when they noticed it had ear mites, the vet was told.
Kudzma said she is having Mini Max undergo a full checkup now to make sure he’s OK. She’s still worried he might have suffered internal injuries or broken bones in that leap six years ago.
She is also preparing a room where Mini Max can have his own space, since Kudzma now fosters other cats and isn’t sure how he’d handle the other kitties in her condo.
She spent the past several days so excited she was unable to sleep. It still doesn’t feel real to her, she said.
While Mini Max may have had an adventure, his journey has led to something positive for other cats as well.
After getting the news, she and her friends reflected on how many cats may have been saved all because of the efforts that started with the search for Mini Max.
And she also hopes that the story of Mini Max will convince people to get their pets microchipped.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.