A Christmas Miracle


Happy Holidays to you all, Farmgirl readers! I hope you are having a wonderful season, and that the New Year brings us all joy, good health, and happiness for 2024!

We were dealt with more than our share of not-so-jolly this year, and our holidays were almost ruined by something that could have been a tragedy, a cherry on top of the proverbial “bad sundae”. Instead, we received a true Christmas miracle, and we are so overjoyed! I hope this post puts a smile on your face!

There’s a saying that curiosity killed the cat. It’s also said that cats have nine lives. If that is true, my Norman used several of his up recently! 


We do not have any family in New England, aside from my husband, myself and our daughter. Animal loversenthusiasts, animal obsessed, during our thirty-one year marriage, my husband and I have always had multiple pets. They are our “fur-babies”, and are not “just pets”, but family, a sentiment my daughter shares, as well. Each one, present and past, have dug their paws (or slithered) into our hearts and left an imprint!  I do spend a tremendous amount of time vacuuming and doing other pet-related tasks, but I would not change one second! The happiness, love, laughter and pure joy our pets bring is worth it.

The holidays always bring hustle and bustle, but I love it. We try to make the holiday season special for us, our friends, and our pets. In December, 2017, our town’s animal shelter posted a  beautiful young, orange tabby for adoption. I was immediately smitten! We applied and were chosen to adopt our boy, Norman. 

Christmas 2017, our present to our family was a new addition!

Christmas 2017, our present to our family was a new addition!


I had wanted a large orange tabby since I was a little girl, and Norman is our dreamy kitty. A true best friend companion to our older kitty, Mittens, he is so sweet, loving and cuddly.

Partners in crime…

Partners in crime…


“Chunky-Monkey-Cheddar Cheese-Norman” makes us laugh at his antics, and is very demanding when he feels his food bowl needs filling. He has a very commanding presence, greeting guests with a loud meow, and holding his own with our three dogs.

“Dogs? Love them. But such    SILLY creatures, even my siblings…”

“Dogs? Love them. But such SILLY creatures, even my siblings…”

We do not have outdoor kitties, and our dogs don’t go outside without us. Norman is usually a good boy, not trying to escape, but we are all very careful not to leave any doors open, just in case. 

On a recent Saturday morning, my husband was about to leave for work and  I was meeting a friend. Our decorating was done, except for the toy train my husband puts around our Christmas tree, and the only other task was to take the empty decoration boxes and totes back down to the basement. 

My daughter had already fed the kitties their breakfasts, and after that they usually took long naps in a sunny window. We finished the tree, and took a photo. Mittens had come downstairs for the occasion.


The rest of the day was a busy, fun December day. We did not notice anything was awry. Audrey usually feeds the cats before she goes to bed, because if we feed them too early in the evening, they will wake us up during the night. Kim and I had gone to bed early, exhausted, and it was the only time I can remember that I went to bed without checking on the cats before turning in. Suddenly, Audrey burst into our room. Norman had not come to eat, and she could not find him anywhere.

The next several hours were a blur of disbelief, panic, fear and stress. We combed the house, looking in every nook and corner. We went into the basement, all of us looking in every spot we could think of, several times over. We determined Norman had slipped out of the house, unseen. 

Outside, the air was heavy and the fog was thick. The night was so dark, with a heavy quilt of cloud cover and a raw, misty rain. Norman hates water. The darkness felt like it was mocking us. We looked for our baby until 1:00 AM, when we finally admitted defeat. 

Even after heading to bed, I could not sleep. I haven’t stayed up for 24 hours since I was a teenager! It was awful. The next morning, we looked and looked. The house was so quiet, even with the other animals. Norman is such a huge, noisy part of our home. Our hearts felt broken, our nerves raw with fear of the worst. The weather was cold, dark and rainy. We got six inches of rain that day.

The next 72 hours were a blur. We looked for Norman every waking moment. We found ourselves staring out the window whenever we were inside warming up, looking for movement. 

This is the photo I used on Norman’s “missing” poster.

This is the photo I used on Norman’s “missing” poster.

We did everything we could. As soon as he was missing, that morning I had immediately emailed the neighborhood list, posted on our neighborhood Facebook page, our town’s Facebook group, and the Facebook group my daughter started back in 2020 – part of the emergency pet network she created for her Girl Scout Gold Award. We took flyers to every local vet, in case he was brought in. Local businesses and their owners were so amazing, putting Norman’s flyers right on their front doors. I joined more local Facebook groups, just in case, and also posted his info on Pawboost – a nationwide emergency lost pet website. We put our dirty laundry outside (for the scent), left his food in the basement in case he was in there, and left our garage door slightly open with his favorite bed and blanket inside.

I reached out to our local animal control/shelter. Our town’s Head Animal Control officer is the best! She truly loves animals, and immediately got a Have-A-Heart trap for us to borrow. I was in tears, feeling like a failure. I felt like I let them down, and let Norman down. She reassured me that it was not the case at all, and said that cats are notoriously sneaky; that she felt he was near the house, hunkered down. 

Have-A-Heart traps like this can be helpful tools in helping lost cats find their way back home.

Have-A-Heart traps like this can be helpful tools in helping lost cats find their way back home.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. In all the heartbreak, with all the stress and fear of the worst, support and love came from all directions. Neighbors on our street called and emailed, some I had not seen in years, and others I had not yet met! Many were heading out, night and day, looking for our kitty. They were taking early morning walks by the house, in hopes of finding Norman. Friends were calling to check on us. My phone blew up with Facebook messages and comments – from people we knew and also from those we didn’t – everyone was sending messages of love, advice, or offering to help look. People everywhere were praying and checking in for updates. We ended up borrowing two more traps from a friend, while more and more strangers offered their Have-A-Heart-Traps, as well. The support was so heart-warming. 

On Monday, the torrential rain of Sunday stopped and the sun came out. We looked and looked, and did whatever we could. I had such a hard time – I imagined the worst. Exhausted,  I was emotional, heartbroken, and crying buckets.

We thought he could have climbed a tree - but they are many and as tall as skyscrapers.

We thought he could have climbed a tree – but they are many and as tall as skyscrapers.


Looking in the brush and woods, we got covered in ticks, scratched by prickly plants, and I got poison ivy.  At one point, I found my daughter deep in the woods, sobbing, which broke my heart even more. My husband and one of my dearest friends also both feared they would find Norman’s body in the street on their way to and from work. It was such an awful feeling not knowing what happened to our cat.

Sharing our surroundings with predators, like this bobcat spotted last summer, is part of life in New England suburbs.

Sharing our surroundings with predators, like this bobcat my daughter spotted last summer, is part of life in New England suburbs.

New England is beautiful, but our woods are dense. Connecticut suburbs are lovely, but we also share the area with a great number of predators – bears, coyotes, eagles, hawks, raccoons, fisher cats and bobcats, to name a few. Most of the houses in our neighborhood have dense woods surrounding our properties, with hundreds of places a scared kitty could hide. 

As I was walking down my driveway for the thousandth time, I saw a large hawk. My heart sank. Still, when my daughter was a little girl, we once found and rescued a cat from our woods, missing from two streets over. Little Duncan had been missing eight weeks! Skinny and dehydrated, but in good shape, his family was in disbelief when I called them. They were overjoyed, and I wouldn’t have been able to locate them if not for the last tattered flyer on a nearby stop sign. Miracles can happen!

If cats could pray, that was Mittens. She was besides herself when her Norman was missing, and quit eating very much. She cried  and meowed and stuck close to us.

If cats could pray, that was Mittens. She was besides herself when her Norman was missing, and quit eating very much. She cried and meowed and stuck close to us.

By Tuesday, our hope was waning. I wanted to skip Christmas, our holidays could not be jolly. Our hearts were already broken this spring when our fifteen year-old chihuahua passed in the spring. The thought of losing another pet this year, especially at the holidays, was more than I could bear. I was making myself sick with worry, having unintenionally lost six pounds since that Saturday. 

Then, suddenly a neighbor texted me. Her three, sweet young children were so invested in finding Norman, that they were combing the trails in their woods every day. Would I want to join them when they got off the bus? You bet – we made plans for me to meet them that afternoon. 

Another neighbor texted me right after. Her husband thought he saw our kitty that morning, but was not sure since the cat seemed to have longer fur and bolted when he went outside. Could I send more photos? She also told me to come and look around at her house, and even let us leave a trap. She was so sweet, saying we could come over and look anytime. A possible sighting! We had hope. 

An acquaintance in town also texted me. She runs a cat rescue and offered to come over with her infrared camera. Attached to her iPhone, the camera helps her find feral cats stuck in places where you would not imagine a cat could fit. She and her partner came over, and together the three of us again looked everywhere. Her partner suggested the basement once more. He said, “Since you didn’t see him get out, are you sure Norman isn’t still in there?” 

I doubted it. Our basement is attached to our garage, and we go in and out through there a hundred times a day. We all had looked many times over, the food I left was uneaten, and Norman never misses a meal. We never heard a collar or its little bell. I emphatically said there was no way he could be in there, but a different pair of eyes is often the best. They took the infrared camera and looked all over our basement and garage. Norman was not to be found. 

That afternoon, I met my neighbors and her three adorable, young kids. (She had also reached out to the neighbor behind us who has cows, and he had said we could search there, too. He had been keeping an eye out as well). Her little boy had researched all about finding lost cats, and was armed with a flashlight. We went through their woods, muddy and wet from the recent rain. 


We looked everywhere, and as we stopped at the fenceline to gaze at the cows where four properties “meet”, we thought we all heard a faint, possible meow, three times. Try as we might (again, they went BEYOND to try and help, I will never forget it), we never located Norman, and as it was getting dark and cold, headed back. 

Pet lovers, as well, her husband had been on a business trip and was flying in from Florida at 9:30 PM. He offered to take us back into his woods when he got home at 11:00 PM. Normally, I would never inconvenience anyone that way, but we were so desperate to find our baby! We felt so blessed to have such kind neighbors! 

At just before 11:00, we got ready to join our neighbor. My husband Kim, Audrey and I dressed like eskimos, as the cold was settling in. I felt it was our last chance to save Norman. All I could think was that he would freeze to death with the dropping temperatures. We climbed into the car, and right before backing out, Kim went to run back in the house. Maybe Norman’s collar (it’s a breakaway, but still) was stuck in the brush and we would need something to cut it. Running back into the house, we heard Kim shout. Audrey and I ran in to see what the commotion was. 

“I saw movement! Something just moved the rug!” Kim shouted.

“Mouse?”, we asked. Kim replied it was too big to be a mouse or even a rat. It definitely was the cat, or something big that had gotten in. (We prayed it wasn’t a raccoon)!

We quickly sprang into action, closing all doors. Kim and Audrey ran into the back part of the basement. Suddenly, I heard happy shouts of “Norman!”, followed by guttural meows and hissing. Norman sprang from behind a desk and bolted towards the door, where I was able to grab him, wild-eyed and squirming. When he finally realized it was me, he stopped and immediately starting purring. We were overjoyed, and Audrey wrapped him up in her coat, and took him back upstairs. We texted our neighbor, already in the woods searching. We credit them with helping us find our boy. We might not have found him if we weren’t meeting them that evening. 

We think Norman had gotten scared by a sound when he snuck into the basement, and wound up stuck behind a panel in the desk against the wall where we could not see him – even the thermal camera did not pick him up.

Thinner, but happy to be found!

Thinner, but happy to be found! MISSING OVER FOUR DAYS! PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED!

Thinner, he was in good shape. His fur smelled like our musty basement but he was otherwise clean. Mittens was so happy she first licked and kissed him, then swatted him a few times. Now they do not leave each other’s sides. I do not think we would have found him in time if not for our neighbors. Apparently, even the friendliest of cats can go into “still-opossum-like-mode” when scared and in unfamiliar surroundings. 

The purring was deafening! We can’t stop snuggling our babies!

The purring was deafening! We can’t stop snuggling our babies!

I alerted everyone and updated all the postings. Everyone was so happy, saying things like “Yay! We logged online just to get Norman updates”, or “It’s a Christmas miracle!” Cars shouted out to me, as I was removing flyers,  “Hooray! Norman is back” ,  and when I called our vet, they told me one of our neighbors already had told them the good news. We had a happy ending, and everyone felt a part of it. 

One wonderful lady in town, whom I had never met, messaged me that she had extra GPS AirTags she was not using, and that she would like to give them to Norman for a holiday gift. She and I met, and after chatting and hugging her several times, I felt like I knew her forever. Arriving home, I sat in my car and cried, this time happy tears. I was overwhelmed by all of the kindness from everyone, and I had just met the most wonderful, sweet lady, as well. We are hoping to get together again soon.


She had wrapped the tags and two collars up beautifully, refusing to let me pay her for them. I will never, ever, forget her kindness and generosity to us, complete strangers! The babies look so spiffy in their new collars, and the peace of mind the tags bring is priceless!

Together again!

Together again!

We received our Christmas miracle – our fur baby is back when we honestly thought he was gone for good. Having Norman back home safe is the best Christmas present ever, but we received more than that! Through all the chaos – there was light, love, and hope. Importantly, we learned a valuable lesson about the true meaning of community. Two weeks later, I am still receiving messages from people saying how joyful they are that we found our pet. Our hearts are full!

The nightly news and much of what is going on in the world is bleak right now, but there is still SO MUCH LOVE! There are still good, kind, wonderful people. I learned a valuable lesson: though it is true that we have no family nearby, we are never, ever truly alone! None of us are. We just have to look.


**I dedicate this post to my wonderful town, and her amazing townspeople. You all are a blessing! ***

Dear readers, Happy Holidays to you all. May you have a wonderful, cozy Holiday season, and a very Happy New Year. I’ll see  you in January!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole


  1. Lori Fresina says:

    Just went thru the same on Dec 4-8. He was outside and came back. I pulled in the carport and heard him meowing loudly and then he jumped on the car. We thought he was gone but now he’s back!!! Glad your baby was found too!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Lori, Oh, I am so glad you found your kitty, too! It is just awful not knowing where they are! Friends of ours lost their kitty last year just before Thanksgiving. They had given up, when all of a sudden, two weeks later, after the holiday, he showed back up, thin but healthy. She thinks he was stuck in someone’s garage while they were on holiday! Glad you got a happy ending, too. Give your kitty a pat from me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • Lori Fresina says:

        I told my husband your story and he couldn’t believe it!

        • Nicole Christensen says:

          Hi Lori, we still can’t believe our baby is back! We keep spoiling him with extra pats and kisses (more than ever), and we are just so thankful. After that first night, we were sure we would never see him again. We just had to not give up! Have a wonderful holiday season! Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Ellen Andersen says:

    Nicole, thank you so so very much for sharing this. I’m so glad Norman is back home. I, too, have cats and live in the woods (the Blue Ridge mtns in Harpers Ferry, WV). One particular cat, (a rescue and foster failure) with one eye and many many extra toes has caused me grief similar to your Norman. His name is Tony Too Many Toes Toprano. He was a feral for many years but was finally trapped prior to a spay/neuter/vaccination event at our wonderful local vet clinic. I’m with a small group up here that runs a trap/neuter/return program and those cats we trap that are friendly (or will become friendly) as well as kittens …. so many kittens…are fixed up, vaccinated, neutered/spayed and adopted into families.

    Anyway, I’m blathering on. I do want to mention, though, that one thing with my personal cats as well as the TNR cats we’ve rehab’d and adopted out is to make sure they all have microchips. Those simple little chips have helped us locate lost cats and get them back home. All mine are chipped…Tony Too Many Toes does like to rush the door and then taunt me from the woods until I can coerce him back in the house. The chip is a blessing and is a HUGE help in getting missing critters back home.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and give Norman lots of love from my WV mountain cats!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ellen, thank you so much! I love your kitty’s name, and I bet he is just the cutest thing with his many toes and one eye! How wonderful that you are involved in kitty rescue! I think microchips are great, but they do not serve as a gps, (someone has to find your pet to scan it), so the trackers are a wonderful addition to the microchips! Keep up the great work you do, and pat that sweet Tony for me! Have a wonderul holiday season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    What a wonderful miracle story for the holidays!!. May your family enjoy your kitties and each other.

  4. Denise says:

    So very happy you found Norman!! Pets are family and glad you all are together again. Merry Christmas!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! Thank you – our hearts were so broken when he was gone. Now our family is complete! We have spoiled him rotten the last two weeks with so much love and pats (and treats)! Merry Christma, Denise! Have a wonderful holiday season! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Treese says:

    I haven’t had much Christmas Spirit this year. Your post put the spirit right back in my heart. Such a sad story with a joyous ending. Welcome back Norman.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Treese, thank you – your comment means so much. There is nothing that could be put under our tree that would be as wonderful as finding our baby boy! He is such a good, sweet kitty. Have a Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Carol Slater says:

    What a miracle! I just finished sitting with my granddoll’s goat as it is passing and we just lost a lamb a couple of days ago. It sure does take away some of the holiday happiness.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Carol, I am so very sorry! In the past we have lost beloved pets and also relatives at the holidays…so hard. My heart gotes out to you and your granddoll! Much love to your family! May 2024 be better! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. jacqueline says:

    What a beautiful community you have that came together to search for your beloved cat. A touching story. I can only imagine how relieved you all are that your beloved is back with you well cared for.

    Happy Holiday season.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jacqueline, thank you – yes, we are so happy to have him home safe. The support from our town and community was so unexpected and truly wonderful! Have a Happy Holiday! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Oh my, I was hanging on every word! I’m so so happy you have found Norman and that now you can enjoy the holidays together. What wonderful friends & neighbors you have…that is truly such a blessing. We have an orange tabby as well…the sweetest boy, I can understand why you were so worried – they really become such a part of our families. Happy for your Christmas Miracle – what a wonderful post for this Christmas season, thanks for sharing! Mary

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary, thank you so very much! Our hearts are so full! I have lived in Connecticut, here, for more than half of my life, but after this, I truly feel more than ever that our town is HOME. Aren’t orange tabbies the best? They have such sweet personalities. When I was a little girl, the neighbors had an orange tabby named Mr. Peabody. He was big like Norman and used to visit. I always wanted an orange tabby and love my Norman so much! Thanks for reading and commenting, and have a very Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Julie says:

    So Happy to hear the entire story and the HAPPY ending. What a Wonderful bunch of folks that offered their help. It’s similar to It’s a Wonderful Life…

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you! Maybe there is a reason movies like that (one of my all time favorites) and Hallmark Christmas movies are filmed or take place in the Northeast! Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Nicole….I want you to be my neighbor as you are an amazing woman. I read your stories and messages and no wonder your neighbors all love you as much as I do. You would do anything you could for another person. For sure, you are a wonderful human being.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Anne, WOW! Thank you… that is an amazing, wonderful compliment. Thank you ever so much. I have just always tried to live by the “Golden Rule”. You are so sweet! I wish you a very, Merry Holiday Season, and a Happy New Year! Thank you for reading, and for such a nice comment. You have warmed my heart very much. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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