Osborne Agway’s store cat Fennel returned safe and sound

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  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a rub from floor manager Beth Taylor in the area of the store the cat likes for the warm sun on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel patrols inside the store she likes the most on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a chin rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a chin rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The lost cat sign at the Osborne’s Agway on Route 106 was turned into found announcement on Wednesday, January 20, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a head rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway house cat Fennel gets a rub from floor manager Beth Taylor inside the store on Wednesday, January 20, 2020 after being found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Osborne Agway floor manager Beth Taylor holds house cat Fennel inside the store as she talks to a customer on Wednesday, January 20, 2020. Fennel was found on 4th Range Road in Pembroke after two weeks of being in the woods. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 1/20/2021 3:56:23 PM

Beth Taylor couldn’t be sure.

Not right away. She hoped the soft squeak outside her office Tuesday belonged to her missing cat, Fennel, but meows often sound the same between one cat and another.

Seconds later, though, a coworker in the main area of Osborne’s Agway called to Taylor.

“I jumped up,” Taylor said Wednesday. “I asked if that was Fennel and she brought her in to me and (Fennel) has not stopped purring since. You can tell she’s happy to be back.”

Fennel left exactly two weeks ago from the comfort and security she enjoyed as Agway’s store cat. Before she went missing, she had freedom to roam the store, charming customers during regular business hours, then hunkering down in a storage room at night. She had food, water, her own bathroom.

On Jan. 5, this sleek-black, speedy 3-year-old stowed away in a customer’s truck and ended up on Range Road in Pembroke, four miles from Agway.

Taylor said a good Samaritan named Howard returned Fennel after an all-out search during a two-week period that included Pembroke police, friends, area animal lovers and Facebook updates.

Taylor had been going out day after day checking the Havahart traps she set to catch her friend Fennel with no luck. She peered under porches and made as many kissy noises as she could. It was beginning to look grim.

Fennel’s sudden return to Agway has lifted spirits and morale.

“I spoke to him when he dropped the cat off,” Taylor said of our mystery man. “I was in shock and I got his name but I did not think to get a phone number. An awesome person.”

No one had felt the effect of Fennel’s MIA status more than Taylor. Fennel was a few weeks old when Taylor adopted her three years ago. She’s always had cats in her life.

She had a special fondness for her family cat, George, who was orange and raised by Taylor from kittenhood. George died last year at the age of 18.

She has two cats at home, and one of them, Jack, had been Agway’s longtime house cat. But Jack and dogs – frequent visitors to a business known for pet food, animal feed, and gardening and farming needs – never got along.

So Taylor took Jack home a couple of months ago, shifting his PR duties to 3-year-old Fennel. She’d begin her day when other staff members arrived in the morning.

She liked to lounge behind one of the cash registers, greet a particular little boy each time he came in, pop into certain areas where people were shopping, anything to add warmth to the business.

Then, soon after the holidays, Fennel took a ride in a truck, creating a temporary catastrophe that had Taylor and coworkers frantic.

Taylor efforts to catch Fennel didn’t exactly come up empty handed.

In fact, Taylor caught an opossum, which she freed herself, and another trap caught a skunk, which the Pembroke police thankfully freed.

“They came to the trap and they had their own blanket,” Taylor said. “I didn’t have to do anything. The Pembroke police were great.”

Meanwhile, time passed. Word spread, creating a pretty sizable force determined to find Fennel. Taylor worried how cold nights and little, if any, food would affect Fennel.

“She’s a good hunter, so I thought maybe she was catching little mice,” Taylor said. “And a lot of our customers were putting food out, so maybe she was able to eat a little. There are a lot of barns in that area, so maybe she was able to crawl into one and be against the wind.”

She pulled it off, fighting off a typical New Hampshire winter, putting those reality TV survivor people to shame.

Then, a man named Howard came to the rescue. Taylor says the man spotted a cat near his garage that looked very much like the one Taylor posted signs about around the area.

He phoned Agway, letting them know there was hope. Taylor said she felt relief after so many tips had led searchers over a wide range of area – Buck Street, North Pembroke Road and others.

“There were so many possible sightings that it was hard to know where to look,” Taylor said. “It gave me renewed hope.”

Three days later, Howard the hero bent down, extended his hand offering food, made a few rapid-fire kissing noises and lured Fennel to him.

With cat in hand, he didn’t bother calling. Instead, he decided to drive Fennel back home and brought her inside.

Taylor, doing paperwork in the office, heard a meow. The reunion was tearful.

“She looks skinnier, so she wasn’t getting enough to eat,” Taylor said. “But I thought she would be skin and bones.”

Just in case, Fennel had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for later Wednesday.

“She looks good,” Taylor said.




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