‘Tom the lost trucker cat’ found 9 miles from St. Cloud after 40 days missing

Published 5:20 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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By Sam Stroozas

“Lost trucker cat. Help me get home, call my team. Leave tuna for me,” reads a poster with a white and gray cat posted around St. Cloud.

At 2 a.m. on Jan. 17, “Tom the lost trucker cat” jumped out of his owner’s semi truck at the Pilot/Flying J truck stop off exit 171.

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“He took a few steps, turned back and gave me one last look,” Owner Angel Anthony Garcia said. Tom was gone.

Garcia and his wife, Tom’s other owner Marie Sanchez, searched for him as long as they could without success. Garcia had to deliver a truck full of apples to Virginia and the deadline was approaching.

They made the difficult decision to leave and hoped that someone would find him. Garcia posted about him in a local Facebook page.

They adopted Tom in 2022. He is a vocal, very clean and “bougie” cat.

“He is very charming and bratty when he doesn’t get his way,” Sanchez said. “When we met Tom, he stole our hearts. And he’s just been our baby ever since. My world revolves around him. When we lost him, I cried for days.”

It was just above zero degrees on Jan. 17. The possibilities were endless, Tom could have hitched a ride in another car, ran into the woods or remain in hiding forever.

Jan Peterson was scrolling Facebook and saw Garcia’s post about Tom. She reached out to Garcia and Sanchez and told them she wanted to help. This isn’t her first time looking for a lost pet, she has helped many families through Facebook find lost animals.

She contacted her community and set up a Facebook group for Tom asking for tips. She put up signs, posted on social media and wished for the best.

Forty days had passed with no sign of Tom. At 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Peterson’s husband woke her up.

“I think somebody found Tom!” he said.

She ran out of bed to find the Facebook post and there he was. A sweet, slightly dirty, gray and white cat.

When Garcia and Sanchez got the call he was okay, they were speechless.

“It was devastating to me because he is the light of my life,” Sanchez said. “Knowing he survived, knowing that he was found, oh my gosh, I can’t even tell you, I am so overwhelmed with joy. I can’t wait to get to him.”

Tom was found by Jeremiah Moe at a metalworking shop in Sauk Rapids, 9 miles from where he went missing.

Moe saw him near some dumpsters and later on, he snuck into the shop. Moe, and his other co-workers, caught him in a utility closet.

“Meow, meow, meow!” Tom bellowed. Moe peered in and Tom rubbed up against his hand. He was safe now.

Peterson retrieved him and brought him to Rice Vet Clinic where Dr. Kayla Schmitz took over. He had lost about half his weight, was dehydrated and a little roughed up. He was given fluids and cleaned. After being missing for more than a month, he showed little impact of the Minnesota climate.

On his journey it is likely he ran into wildlife, including predators, and the Mississippi River. While we may never know what Tom did for all those days, it is clear he was determined to survive.

Now he is staying with a foster home until his owners can come retrieve him. Funds are tight for Garcia and Sanchez. They are trying to get a truck load they can drive that will run through Minnesota so they can get Tom, but they haven’t heard about any opportunities yet. They said they will get to him as soon as they are able to.

Peterson credits the community in his rescuing.

“It was the whole community … they really went out of their way to watch for him at night. They would check and say, ‘I went here today, I didn’t see him, but I look for him every night before I go to bed.’ It was that kind of dedication.”

Sanchez said Tom never would have been found without the residents of St. Cloud.

“It was so amazing how they came together, it gave me peace of mind that there is people out there who were looking for him because I couldn’t. We’re really grateful.”