Sarah Lauber is truly a cat person – and a cat rescuer, for which she has been rewarded in many ways.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com


Sarah Lauber is truly a cat person – and a cat rescuer, for which she has been rewarded in many ways.
When she went out to get her mail recently, she noticed a missing cat sign posted on the mailbox. And she decided to start searching for the cat on the poster whose name was Mila.

“Missing pet signs are posted occasionally on the mailboxes in our neighborhood,” says Sarah. “It deeply saddens me when I see these posters, especially when it’s a cat that has been missing for a long time. Anyone who knows me knows I am crazy for cats.”
When her brother told her he had seen a cat on the patio by her family’s back door, she rushed outside to see if she could talk to it gently and get it to come to her. She hadn’t seen it in her neighborhood before and as the cat softly meowed in response to Sarah’s attention, she realized that she recognized the animal from the picture on the poster. She told her mom that she thought this was the missing cat.

“While I kept an eye on the cat, my mom checked the poster and asked me about some of the descriptions that were listed,” says Sarah. “The cat I found matched them perfectly. She was a beautiful little black cat with a small white patch of fur between her arms, below her chin but above her tummy.”

When Sarah called the phone number on the poster and told them she had found their cat, they were wary because they had received several false calls and told her the cat had been missing for three months. She texted the family photos of the cat while feeding her and giving her water, hoping that she would stay in the yard until the family arrived.

“She had been fairly sweet to me and seemed to be starving,” says Sarah. “She gulped the food down that I set out for her. Nightfall was quickly approaching when the family arrived.”

When the family saw the cat, they thought it could very well be Mila. But she was acting very stressed and they weren’t able to pick her up or get her in a carrier. Sarah says this was understandable as the cat had been away from home for so long. As time went on, the whole family was convinced that this could be their beloved pet.
“After many unsuccessful attempts at luring the cat with kibble, tuna and bits of ham over a couple of days, the family called animal control and the officer came out and set up a trap for it,” says Sarah. “The first night, an angry possum was trapped. The next night, the cat was caught in the trap.”

The family took the cat to the veterinary clinic where they searched for Mila’s microchip, but there was no microchip to be found.
“They found it unbelievable due to her being almost identical to their Mila,” says Sarah. “When we got the text that the cat we all had worked so hard to bring back home wasn’t Mila, it was so disheartening. I was devastated. I so badly wanted to help that family get their cat back.”

Sarah was very surprised when the family insisted that she take the $100 reward.
“I didn’t think I deserved a reward for trying to get a missing cat back to its family,” she said.
Her commitment to helping find and rescue animals comes purely from love, so she knew that she couldn’t keep the money for herself. When the family insisted she take it, Sarah thought about ways she could donate the money in honor of Mila.

“If I couldn’t help Mila, I wanted to help other cats,” says Sarah. “My mom had seen the Chronicle Shopper with information on the Council on Aging’s Feed the Feline Friends program and suggested that. I thought that was a great idea and decided to spend the money on kitty litter, food and treats to support the cause. I looked for coupons and sales to make sure I could stretch the money as far as possible to help as many people and cats as possible. I gladly spent every last penny on donations. As I delivered the items to the (agency), it felt like it was Christmas for the cats and I was ‘Santa Paws!’ I was so happy knowing that I was going to make a difference in some little kitties’ lives that day.”

Sarah is a sophomore at Lansing High School where she is part of the Lionettes Dance Team and a member of the KAYettes, French Club and the Women’s Ensemble Choir.
She describes herself as a huge cat person and during the summer volunteers at the Fort Leavenworth Stray Facility helping take care of the cats while they wait to be adopted.

“I have even adopted two cats during my lifetime,” she said. “Kendra unfortunately passed away in 2015. Kiris is my present cat. She has FIV, which makes her immune system more sensitive. Basically, cats are just a big part of my life. My high school class ring has the words ‘For the cats’ inscribed on it. Since elementary school, it has been my dream and goal to go to vet school and become a veterinarian so I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”
It’s not known if Mila ever found her way home. Sarah thinks the likelihood of that is sadly, very slim considering the length of time she has been missing.

But the experience has made her determination to help animals even stronger and she will continue to support the Council on Aging’s animal programs.

“I want to help the low-income elderly with the care of their pets,” says Sarah. “I know how important a pet’s companionship is. Sometimes pets are the only family that a person has. Pets really are members of our families.”