Courtesy Ann Bosche
On a chilly March evening in 2014 in Lucedale, Mississippi, Ann Bosche, then 53, stood on her front steps while her mini dachshund, Gracie, took a bathroom break. Gracie sniffed an unwelcome visitor under the camellia bush and barked. Ann bent and saw a pair of green eyes.
“Hello, there,” Ann said, and heard a meow in reply. Ann, who had two resident cats, Bosco and Junior, went inside. She returned with a bowl of cat food and slid it beneath the bush.
The next night, the cat returned. Ann fed him again, moving the bowl closer to the house. After a week, the mystery cat showed himself. He was long-haired, with a plume of tail punctuated by a white tip. Ann called him Mr. Fancy, or Fancy for short.
Soon, Mr. Fancy was strutting in and out of the cat door. However, Ann’s husband, Gene, argued that Fancy should find a new home. “We don’t need another mouth to feed, and vet bills are expensive,” he said. Reluctantly, Ann agreed.
The drive to the shelter was heartbreaking. Ann cried. Fancy cried. She consoled herself by thinking, “He’s so beautiful and lovable. Somebody will want him.”
A month later, Ann woke to the sound of Gene’s voice. She went to see which animal he was talking to—and saw a white-tipped tail. A thinner Fancy ran across the room to her.
When she asked the shelter what had happened, she learned that Fancy had escaped 20 minutes after she had left, when a worker opened the cage to feed him. Somehow, over the next month, he’d navigated the three miles—traversing railroad tracks, busy streets, and sketchy neighborhoods—back to the Bosches.
“This cat is meant to be here,” Ann says. Even Gene agrees. “Whatever time I have with Fancy,” Ann says, “they’re going to be the best years of his life.”