Wandering cat finds her way back to ownerand a Nationwide Hambone Award

November 5, 2019
dvm360, dvm360 January 2020, Volume 51, Issue 1

A tearful plea to a deceased loved one is followed quickly by missing pets return. Is a guardian angel responsible?

Minnow the cat had been gone for three weeks. She returned after her owner, Andrea, asked her late husband to bring the cat home. Photo courtesy of Nationwide.

The adventurous cat Minnow, of Alpharetta, Georgia, recently earned the  “Most Unusual Pet Insurance Claim of the Year” for the 11th annual Hambone Award conducted by Nationwide pet insurance.

Minnow was treated by the veterinary team at Midway Animal Hospital in Alpharetta, who in turn received $10,000 from Nationwide through the Veterinary Care Foundation to help treat pets in their community whose owners could not otherwise afford treatment.

So what did Minnow do to earn fame and notoriety? Here's her story from the Hambone website.

When Andrea and her late husband, Graham, visited a local animal shelter, Andrea was drawn to a sweet, talkative cat named Minnow, but they wound up going home without adopting her. Andrea called the next day, only to learn that the cat had already been adopted. To her surprise, Graham presented her that evening with a gift: Minnow!

Andrea and Minnow eventually moved to the Atlanta area, where Andrea tried to transition Minnow to an indoor-only lifestyle. But “she clearly wanted to be an outdoor cat,” Andrea says. “She'd go out a little farther each day, but I never worried because she always came back.”

However, when more and more time began to pass since Minnow had been home, Andrea did begin to worry. She and her now-wife, Elaine, went to work searching the neighborhood, but three weeks passed with no appearance from Minnow.

“I got in my car to go home, and I was in tears,” Andrea says. “I started talking to myself, and then I started talking to Graham. I said, ‘All right, Graham. You brought Minnow home the first time. Now I need you to bring her home again.'

“The very next day, I'm throwing something in the trash can, and there's Minnow at the back door! I was in complete shock.”

Andrea took Minnow to Midway Animal Hospital in Alpharetta, where she was diagnosed with starvation, dehydration and a broken rib. Given all the cat had been through, the veterinary staff was impressed by her quick recovery.

Photo courtesy of Nationwide.

The other finalists for this year's Hambone Award also earned their veterinary practices a portion of $30,000 in total funds to treat pets in need. Here they are:

Second place. Max, a Great Pyrenees from San Marcos, Texas, got more than he expected when his head got too close to a hog trap.

Third place. Jasper, a cat from Leander, Texas, was treated for heat exposure after narrowly escaping a dryer disaster when he got stuck in the fluff cycle.

Fourth place. Frank, a rottweiler from Keyport, New Jersey, found himself in a prickly situation after a porcupine put quills up his snout.

Fifth place. Tippy, a border collie mix from Arroyo Grande, California, barreled into a steel trailer hitch while playing fetch and injured her snout.

“Our annual Hambone Award is a great reminder that pets can make remarkable recoveries because of the diligence of their owners and the incredible skills of their treating veterinarians,” says Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “These veterinary practices will now have the opportunity to save more animals in need without as much financial concern.”

All nominated pets have made full recoveries and received Nationwide insurance reimbursements for eligible veterinary expenses, company representatives say.

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