The Columbus Dispatch
Cat found after weeks lost at motel
Owner was traveling cross-country when feline ran in Mansfield
Onyx the cat had an extended stay recently at a local motel.
The cat was headed to Colorado with owner Allison Copeland when he found his way into the motel crawlspace.
Miraculously, Onyx survived for five weeks in the bowels of the motel. He owes his life to local cat rescuer Linda Somers, who refused to give up in her search for the black cat.
Copeland had stopped at the local motel on her drive from Rhode Island to Colorado, where she had secured a new job. Her dad was with her to help with the move.
Copeland adopted Onyx in January 2019. He was just under 3 years old.
"He's a great cat," Copeland said. "I was not big on cats. I'm a dog person. Never did I think I would own a cat."
She adopted Onyx after her landlord said she could have a cat, but not a dog. Copeland found Onyx at a local rescue.
"He was terrified," she said. "He was very clearly overwhelmed. He didn't want anything to do with me."
Copeland found herself drawn to the frightened feline. She said Onyx now is the "most chill cat I have ever known." He's also known to beg for food like a dog.
Owner checked motel room, it seemed secure
On the cross-country drive, Copeland had Onyx secured in a mediumsized dog crate. She placed the cat in a carrier in the hotel room.
"I checked all the points of entry," Copeland said. "I checked every crevice and corner. Everything seemed secure."
When she woke up the next morning, Onyx was nowhere to be found. Copeland noticed an opening in a panel underneath the bathroom sink.
"It was over just enough for a small animal to fit through," she said.
She figured Onyx managed to slide the panel open. Copeland was desperate.
"We searched for four hours," she said. "My dad crawled under each side of the building."
There was no sign of Onyx. Copeland had to get to Denver for her job, and her dad was scheduled to catch a flight there. She asked the motel manager if she could leave Onyx's litter box in the room but was denied.
Lost cats will often come back to their litter box if it is left outside.
"I didn't have a choice (but to leave)," Copeland said. "I would have stayed until I found him.
"If I had to deal with that on my own, I don't know that I would have made it to Colorado."
Local cat rescuer gets involved
Somers saw a lost-and-found post about Onyx on social media. She went to work.
The next day, she went to the motel and asked if she could rent the room. She wanted to set a live trap for Onyx. Somers was rejected, but she periodically went back to the motel to search for Onyx.
During one of her trips, she spotted a woman going into the room in question. A week had passed.
"She was a cat lover," Somers said, explaining the woman and her three children had moved from Oklahoma and were renting a room. "She said she'd let me know if she saw anything."
The second time Somers talked to the woman, she asked if she could leave a live trap for Onyx. The cat got in the trap at 2 a.m. the next morning but later escaped again.
He didn't go far.
"She didn't even have to trap him," Somers said. "Her kids just picked Onyx up."
Somers took Onyx home. He was very thin and hungry. Somers didn't know how he survived so long.
"Maybe there were mice down there.
I don't know," she said.
Onyx lost five pounds during ordeal
Somers fed and watered the black cat and made a veterinary appointment for him. Onyx had lost five pounds.
Onyx spent two days with Somers, who said she acted like a mother hen with the elusive feline.
Copeland told her that Onyx had recently undergone surgery to remove bladder stones and was on a special diet.
People had advised Somers to give up her search for the cat, that he surely would have died.
"I couldn't even sleep," she said. "He was my hardest rescue."
A native of India, Somers rescued six cats while there. She came to the United States 25 years ago.
The Madison Township resident has 14 indoor cats, all rescues from her neighborhood.
"The vet bills are what kill me," Somers said.
Still, she has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
In this case, that proved to be good news for Onyx and Copeland, who made the 19-hour drive from Denver to Mansfield to retrieve her cat on Dec. 8.
"At first, he didn't really recognize me, but then he curled up in my arms," Copeland said, adding Onyx has had a bit of separation anxiety since they returned home.
She gives all the credit for saving him to Somers.
"She did not stop," Copeland said. "I'm very, very grateful to Linda. Nothing would have been able to be done without her." firstname.lastname@example.org 419-521-7219