B.C. girl’s wish granted as her cat came back, two years later

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Aria Pendak Jefferson, centre, with her mother Ashley Jefferson, left, meets ChiChi for the first time in two years. Courtney Johnson from Ucluelet, right, rescued ChiChi from a parking lot. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)Aria Pendak Jefferson, centre, with her mother Ashley Jefferson, left, meets ChiChi for the first time in two years. Courtney Johnson from Ucluelet, right, rescued ChiChi from a parking lot. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Aria Pendak Jefferson of Courtenay holds a purring ChiChi after the two were reunited in a parking lot in Port Alberni on Wednesday. ChiChi went missing two years ago in Ucluelet. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley NewsAria Pendak Jefferson of Courtenay holds a purring ChiChi after the two were reunited in a parking lot in Port Alberni on Wednesday. ChiChi went missing two years ago in Ucluelet. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News
Jesse Pendak, left, and Ashley Jefferson of Courtenay wait with their daughter Aria, who is five years old, for Courtney Johnson to arrive from Ucluelet with the family cat. ChiChi has been missing for two years. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)Jesse Pendak, left, and Ashley Jefferson of Courtenay wait with their daughter Aria, who is five years old, for Courtney Johnson to arrive from Ucluelet with the family cat. ChiChi has been missing for two years. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
ChiChi the cat is reunited with her family from Courtenay after going missing while the family was staying with a friend in Ucluelet two years ago. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)ChiChi the cat is reunited with her family from Courtenay after going missing while the family was staying with a friend in Ucluelet two years ago. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

When Aria Pendak Jefferson’s cat ran away while the family was in Ucluelet two years ago, she was despondent. The three-year-old regarded ChiChi, a black and white tuxedo cat, as her best friend.

Now almost six and with several other cats in the house, Aria never lost hope that she would see ChiChi again.

On Wednesday, her wish came true.

“She just ran out the door and never came back,” Aria’s mother, Ashley Jefferson said about the day the cat went missing. She was staying at a friend’s house in Ucluelet at the time while in the process of moving.

“She was heartbroken. She didn’t give up though,” Jesse Pendak said of his and Ashley’s daughter, who was a few months older than the cat. ChiChi had been born on Pendak’s bed, so Aria was with her since she was born.

“They grew up together,” Jefferson said. The adults assumed the worst about the family cat.

Courtney Johnson and her partner, Barry Edge, own Image West in Ucluelet. Just before Easter a friend told Courtney that there was a friendly stray cat in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess across the street. Johnson feeds a small group of feral cats in the neighbourhood so she went over to see how she could help the stray.

She brought the cat home, called her Scrappy and spent four hours patiently cutting mats out of her fur. “She ate her weight in kitty food. I was amazed at how calm she was,” Johnson said.

It was a stroke of luck and social media that brought the two families together.

“I (occasionally) checked the Ucluelet Facebook page to see if she was randomly posted,” Jefferson said. “I hadn’t checked in about six months. I randomly checked one day and Courtney, the lady who (has) her, had posted a photo—and I knew it was her.”

ChiChi has unique colourings on her face, including a black nose. Even though she is smaller than when she went missing there was no mistaking the photo on Facebook was the Pendaks’ cat.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Pendak said.

“I was shocked,” Jefferson said. “This little one (Aria) never stopped thinking she would get her cat back and she was right.”

ChiChi was found within a 10-minute drive from where she disappeared. “I wish she had a GoPro on her to see what she’s been doing all this time,” Johnson said.

When Johnson said ChiChi’s name for the first time the cat sat up and looked at her. “She would sleep in my bathtub,” Johnson said.

“She would sleep in my bathtub too,” Jefferson said.

On Wednesday, April 21, the two families met halfway, in a parking lot in Port Alberni, to exchange the cat. Aria wore a special pink dress for the occasion and waited shyly as Johnson and Edge drove up in their orange Tacoma truck. When it was time for Aria to be reunited with her best furry friend, ChiChi sat on the shadowed pavement in a harness and leash and accepted pets.

When Aria picked her up, ChiChi began purring. Aria grinned. “I’m so happy,” she said.

Johnson was at peace seeing the reunion. “People have had a lot of loss. I know I have had loss. I think this is amazing to be able to reunite somebody’s friend with her family.

“Hope deserves to be kept alive.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

RELATED: Victoria man moonlights as cat rescuer



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CatsCourtenayPORT ALBERNIucluelet

Just Posted

Amy Newman follows the route of the Cariboo Waggon Road — now Highway 97 — through Clinton. (Photo credit: New Pathways to Gold Society)
Grant received for Cariboo Waggon Road restoration project north of Clinton

New Pathways to Gold hopes to start work this summer on restoring sections of historic road

Dan Cumming (l, with Lisa Colwell, LPN) was one of 1,918 people who received their first COVID-19 vaccine at a community clinic in Ashcroft in early May. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Vaccine clinics in Ashcroft, Clinton administered 2,664 first doses

Residents over the age of 18 are still eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine

(from l) Ashcroft councillor Deb Tuohey, mayor Barbara Roden, and councillor Nadine Davenport at the opening of Ashcroft’s new water treatment plant in November 2019. At a recent town hall meeting, council said there are no immediate plans to install water meters in the village. (Photo credit: Christopher Roden)
Ashcroft homeowners face 2.5 per cent property tax bump in 2021

Village is moving ahead with variety of projects, but water metering not on the list of priorities

(from l) Cache Creek councillor Annette Pittman, mayor Santo Talarico, and councillors Wendy Coomber and Sue Peters at a budget meeting, May 7, 2021. (Photo credit: Facebook)
Cache Creek budget bylaws pass with one councillor opposed

Annette Pittman cites several reasons for voting against 30% tax increase and pool closure

James Chase (l) and Joan Henderson of The Equality Project in front of new refrigeration equipment the organization received last year. (Photo credit: Gareth Smart)
Equality Project hopes to get growing with a community garden

Organization is also looking for volunteers to help out at its Stage Road clubhouse

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Brad MacKenzie, advocacy chair for the ALS Society of B.C., says having research projects in the province allows people here to have access to cutting-edge treatments now being developed. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds research chair for Lou Gehrig’s disease at UBC

Pandemic has cut off patient access to international projects

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

A Mountie issued B.C. RCMP’s first ticket for non-essential travel May 1. (Black Press Media files)
Driver ticketed, told to ‘return to Lower Mainland immediately’ by Vancouver Island police

The motorist was originally pulled over for driving-related offences May 1

Children walk back to their classroom while wearing masks and physical distancing at St. Barnabas Catholic School in Scarborough, Ont., in October, 2020. A group of B.C. teachers has issued an open letter calling for the relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions for children in B.C. schools. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Group of B.C. teachers calls for easing of pandemic measures for students

Teacher group says ‘response to COVID is out of balance to the cost our youth are paying’

Adam Hamdan has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorist charges given temporary residence in Canada

Adam Hamdan had been facing deportation to Jordan, where he holds citizenship through his Palestinian parents

Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID lockdowns

Most Read