Sama the Hilton Head Island cat finally came home Sunday after being missing for three weeks — but it wasn’t the right home.
Sama showed up at a home about a mile away. But don’t blame Sama. It’s where she used to live, before her people moved in May.
“We sure are glad to have her back,” said owner Jill Benner Lutz, who moved from Timbercrest off Spanish Wells Road to Spanish Wells Plantation and rented out her former home.
No one knows where Sama has been all this time.
But several days ago, she started showing up at her old house.
Lutz had spread the word in her old neighborhood to watch for the cat, but didn’t think to specifically tell her tenants.
They didn’t know what to make of it when Sama started standing at their front door meowing like she wanted to come inside.
After a couple of days of that, someone had the idea to contact Lutz. They texted her a photo, with the message: “Do you recognize this cat?”
“I about had a heart attack,” Lutz said.
Just that morning, on the way to church, her children pronounced that Sama was dead. Lutz recalls urging them, “Please don’t say that. Someone has taken her in, and she’s sitting fat and happy on a lap.”
For weeks, Lutz posted updates on Facebook, where comfort and advice poured in from many directions:
Put the litter box in the yard, they said. Walk around the perimeter of the yard shaking cat food like a baby rattle. Ask all the neighbors to raise their carport doors. Take turns sitting in the yard at night with a flashlight illuminating your face ...
Several people told of cats who returned to their old neighborhoods and one that walked miles to get back home from an animal shelter.
Old news stories tell of the mysterious homing instinct in cats taking them as far as 850 miles.
Lutz said she tried most of the suggestions.
“It’s a miracle,” she said Monday.
The people in Sama’s old home kept her on the front porch with chicken till Lutz could get there.
“She meowed the whole car ride home and went straight to her food dish, typical Sama-style!” Lutz posted to the Facebook followers of the drama. Her original post asking for help was shared 115 times.
When the good news spread, one friend commented:
“The saying goes cats prefer you move rather than them ... lol. Amen to getting your girl back!”