Meet Hancock!

Name: Hancock

Breed: Mixed Tabby Shorthair

Likes: Food, sneaking up on humans and (toy) mice, food, leather laces, food, fresh catnip, food, warm laps, food, feathers, and food.

Tag! You’re it. (After sneaking up behind you and swatting your ankle.)

Dislikes: Bellman carts, vacuum cleaners, any furniture moved from its usual location, empty food bowls

About Hancock: The Western Maryland Rail Trail, a 27 mile long bike trail built upon an abandoned railroad bed, runs through the small town of Hancock, parallel to the C&O Canal and the Potomac River.  Underneath a red barn adjacent to the Trail lived a family of ground hogs . . . and a very friendly cat who made his living (quite successfully) by begging for food from the hikers and bikers along the trail.  Indeed, generous people would leave cans of cat food stacked nearby for other travelers to open for him.  Alas, as summer turned to fall, passersby slowly dwindled.  As winter approached, hardly anyone used the Trail and the cold and snow became deadly for an abandoned kitty.

Tom had become acquainted with the cat while renovating a nearby property.  On a particularly cold day, and noting the cat’s precarious position, Tom brought the cat inside for the night.  The cat wanted nothing more than to snuggle up and stay warm.  The cat kept one paw on Tom all night long.  The next week, Tom’s partner, Dan, drove up from DC to meet the cat.  Also feeling pity for the poor cat sitting on the cold landing, he too knew they had to adopt him.

Tom and Dan borrowed a cat carrier from a neighbor and brought the cat home to DC.  Upon arriving in the city, the country cat, who feared cars and noise, was a bit nervous.  As they walked with the cat carrier along H Street, NE, to the vet’s office, the unthinkable happened; the cat carrier door hinges gave way.  Fleeing, terrified, the cat ran across H Street during rush hour.  Finding no opening along the storefronts, he ran back across the six lanes, cars honking and tires screeching.  He fled northward into the Trinidad neighborhood, scampered through a locked fence gate, and disappeared into the alleyway.  Tom and Dan were heart-broken.

Tom and Dan searched for days through the streets and back alleys, plastered the neighborhood with missing cat posters, posted on the local neighborhood blogs, and queried the Veterinarians’ offices.  While they received several phone calls about possible sightings, the calls turned out to be for lookalike cats and false alarms.  Christmas came with no luck finding their lost cat.  After the New Year arrived, they gave up hope of ever seeing him again.

On January 2, a lovely young lady, who had once volunteered in an animal shelter, thought she recognized a cat from the poster in her neighborhood.  Luring the cat into her house with a can of tuna fish, she got him inside and shut the door.  She called Tom and Dan, thinking she had found their cat.  Tom and Dan were skeptical; it had been so long.  Plus, they had previously traveled to the same block weeks before on a call that turned out to be a false alarm.   The young woman was unable to send a good photo of the cat, as he was hiding from her in her house.  Nevertheless, Tom and Dan went to see if it was their cat.  It was!  Though a bit weary, with a torn ear and new scratch across his nose, he seemed to be OK.

Hancock, the country cat found under a barn and named after the town where he was found, now happily lives in a condo in the city.  Though he must deal with the monster that occasionally emerges from the hall closet (aka, the vacuum cleaner), he is otherwise quite content to have all the toys he wants, all the food he needs, an occasional treat of fresh catnip, a warm bed, and two humans to love him.