The cat comes back

Tristan is just two years old, but already he’s caused quite a stir in the community. 

For a cat, that is.

At 12 pounds and just a little more than 2 feet long, Tristan — a tabby mix who survived living at Shipwrecks Beach — has been on quite the adventure. If he could talk, his owner, Kerith Edwards, is sure he’d have quite a tale to tell.

That’s because he’s been rescued from the Kauai Humane Society — twice.

But not before jumping from a two-story 10-foot high lanai on Aug. 10, and having the humane society scoop him up a second time, then having the agency inform Edwards by letter that she’d have to pay boarding fees — fees Edwards said she couldn’t afford.

“By the time I received the letter and contacted KHS on the phone, they informed me that I would have to pay $96 to get Tristan back,” she said in an email, “At first, there was no flexibility in these charges. On the phone, I let Justine Holt know that I wasn’t able to pay the fees. The next day, she called and said that if I came to get him that same day, the fees could be halved. At first, I thought I might try to pay that, but we live pay check to pay check and don’t have extra cash to burn. I mean, really nothing extra. So we had to say no.”

The humane society made every effort to contact Edwards during the 10 days that is required by Hawaii state law for animals with identification, said KHS Executive Director Penny Cistaro.

“We gave her a chance to get her cat at $42,” Cistaro said. “She didn’t respond to us when we originally offered the deal.”

That’s true, Edwards said, but only after she had written the letter to editor of The Garden Island newspaper.

When she did that, she said, the community responded in droves.

A member of the community agreed to pay the boarding fees. She and Edwards picked up Tristan from the Kauai Humane Society on Sept. 3, just one month after he was originally adopted.

“I was shocked,” Edwards said. “It was nice to get my cat back. I was not expecting that.”

In her letter to the editor, Edwards said she would have to pay $124 to get Tristan back or the humane society might euthanize him. She broke down the fees as “impound fee, re-licensing fee, and $12 a day boarding fee,” or what the Kauai Humane Society had told her.

Cistaro said there was a miscommunication between her staff and Edwards because the humane society doesn’t require an impound fee for cats and Tristan was already licensed, so he didn’t need to be re-licensed.

Tristan was a “Star Pet,” which means “these are the 10 animals that have been with us the longest,” Cistaro said.

Tristan had been with the humane society since May 20.

“Tristan was at a high risk to get euthanized,” Edwards said. “We adopted an older cat purposely for that reason.”

More than a month ago, Edwards and her five-member family, including her fiancée Jonathan, his two kids Ethan and Jacob, and even their dog, Tashi, decided it was time to add a sixth member to tightknit group, Edwards said.

The family originally adopted Tristan for $25 on Aug. 3.

A few weeks went by and Tristan seemed to acclimate well to his environment, she said. He even got used to the dog.

“He’s not afraid of other animals,” she said. “He holds his own. He kisses the way a dog does with a little lick. He’s a big strong cat.”

Pretty soon, the family was letting Tristan in and out to the lanai, Edwards said.

No one thought Tristan would jump off the 10-foot lanai.

But he did.

KHS found Tristan after he escaped Edwards’ lanai on Aug. 21 near her home on Hanalima Street.

Cistaro said when pet owners don’t take responsibilities for fees associated with their animals, it’s usually the taxpayers that ultimately pay the price.

“When we look at caring for stray animals, there are fees associated with that,” she said.

Edwards said she is just happy she has her cat back.

“Right now, he’s an indoor cat,” said Edwards. “He’s not allowed outside. We’re going to build a bamboo barrier around the lanai.”

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