Finding Kala

Nasha Winters –

“Where do I even begin….

Our fur babies are just that, our babies.  We fall for them and love them hard until they leave us for good.  Only a handful of folks from our inner circle knew of our most recent loss with Kala, our black cat who raised Moji and Mitra. It was simply too painful to share with others.

Our critters have been road tripping with us to and from Mexico for the past 4 years. We have always marveled at the ease in which Kala travels. She yells at us in the most pathetic cat scream in the first 10 minutes of the beginning of our drive south or north, and then, she just gets in a groove.  We have always been careful keeping her indoors with us at our AirBnB’s when we travel given, we are always in a new location, but once we arrive at whatever destination we stay in for months, be it Mexico, California or Durango, she always immediately takes charge of her environment.

On May 31st we began our journey north spending first night in Mazatlan and our last night in Mexico, on June 1st, in San Carlos, about 5.5 hours south of Nogales.  As per her routine, Kala always sets off exploring whatever house we are in and usually finds an amazing hiding place and we often won’t see her until cuddle time early the next morning.  We didn’t think much of it not seeing her before we went to bed, but when she didn’t show up for her usual 5am cuddle, nor for breakfast, we began searching the house.  And then the patio.  And then the condo development where we were staying.  For 6 hours.

We would have stayed longer, but we had to return to our Goddaughter’s wedding.  It was truly one of the most painful experiences we have endured. I ugly sobbed for about 4 straight hours and when I’d come up for air, Steve would start in. 

We contacted the owners of the rental as well as the property manager of the whole development before we even left San Carlos and got posters with two pictures of her as well as a description, her name, what she responds to, etc.  We gave our phone numbers and that of the property owner and prayed for someone to call.

We knew Kala has lived in wild country—her brother being killed by a mountain lion, being known to chase bears, play with foxes, and bed down with the deer on the hillside behind our house.  She was a bad ass traveler and an excellent hunter.  We knew if any cat could survive it, she would.  We also expected her to come running when we rang her jingle ball and shook her treat jar which has always brought her back no matter what. When that didn’t happen, we feared the worst as the property was adjacent to a huge open Sonora desert with well-run coyote trails.  We also found a tuft of black hair on the patio which made our hearts sink.

The only thing we can figure is that when Steve went out on the night of the 1st to dump coffee grounds to get ready for the next morning, as we were gonna hit the road by 5:30am, she must have snuck out the door—her black fur matching that of the black night.  We searched until just after noon.  It was grueling.  We were so sure someone would call in a matter of hours or days telling us they found her and that one of us would return to get her.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into over a month.  We got hit with the worst GI bug known to humanity while in Durango that took us over 2 weeks to recover from.  In Chinese Medicine, the emotion of the GI tract is one of grief and loss.  We were riding that wave in a big way.  We were haunted with guilt that we abandoned her.  Steve blamed himself.  Not a day went by that we didn’t mourn her and yet both of us kept feeling she had to be alive.

About a week into her being gone, I contacted a woman that I read about that had worked for the police to helped find missing persons with her psychic abilities, and over COVID quarantine time, she started to realize she also had an affinity to do this with lost pets.  It was an amazing article and testimonies in a publication out of Connecticut. Hopeful, I sent her an email and left a phone message in hopes that she could at least offer us closure.  I never heard from her. 

On Wednesday of this week, I awoke with such anxiety and a deep intuition that she was looking for us that I went online and began searching for other animal communicators. That’s when I found this lady — I was desperate and sent a message.

If you want to see/read the email thread we had, let me know and I will forward.  But to shorten this long story, her “reading” was so compelling that we got in the car Thursday after I finished work and began driving to San Carlos, MX from Altadena, CA.  We had looked into Steve flying down to Hermosillo—no flights for two weeks and no hotels.  It would have also been tricky if we DID find her to get her home as she’s never been vaccinated, and she would need a full work up and vax to get on the plane.  The cost to fly was so prohibitive, over 1800 bucks as well, so we opted to drive.

Honestly—I questioned my sanity every step of the way, as did Steve, but we both knew if we didn’t at least try, we’d regret it forever.  We arrived in San Carlos at 4:30pm today, Friday the 9th.  We also arrived to a message that the condo we booked in the same compound, right next door, to where we lost Kala, fell through. We scrambled to find another condo on the property to no avail. And then we learned that there was a special Mexican holiday and ALL the hotels, AirBnB’s were full.  So here it is, we drove two days to get here and had no place to stay. Did I mention we brought the dogs?

We pulled up to the development and found more bad news. The office was closed, and the compound was locked up tight.  Deadbolts on all the entrances to the property and key card to get into the gated driveway.  We walked the perimeter of the huge property looking for opportunities to get in.  Nothing.  And it was 102 degrees.  We poked our head through one of the gates and saw a family on the patio of the condo next door to the house we were supposed to rent and two doors down from the house where we had lost her and signaled them over to the fence.  Arnoldo spoke little English and with our broken Spanish, managed to articulate what we were looking for.  He said he’d keep an eye out and we told him we were gonna come back at sundown and sunrise as know she was always hiding/sleeping during the day, and especially in that heat.  We didn’t exchange numbers which we realized later.

We saw a for rent sign on one of the condos from the street and called the Real Estate office on the sign. It was now 4:50pm and left a message. At some point while we were walking back to the car to go in search of a place to stay and get the dogs hydrated and out of the heat, Lisa, the realtor, called and left a message that she had nothing available on that property but did just have a cancellation on one across the highway and if interested, to come to the office.

We arrived at the realtor’s office at 4:59 pm and there was a car out front running with the door open and a couple of women inside clearly getting ready to leave.  We asked if the condo was still available and the woman, Lisa, recognized us from our message.  She was just about to leave for the weekend.  We inquired about any property on the development we had tried to get into, and they said it was all booked up. We then explained why it was so important and asked if they had any contacts on the property that might be willing to let us in to look around. She immediately made some calls and told us she’d help us find a way into the compound but that most folks had gone home for the day.  The ladies in the office were all animal lovers and cried with us and started sending out messages to all the San Carlos FB forums and chat rooms to ask for help and to alert us if anyone had seen her. 

I sent an email to Monica and told her that our plans had changed and that we were unable to get onto the property but that we’d be coming back at dusk and dawn each day looking for Kala. She told me she’d tell her (Kala).

Lisa got us set up in the condo and Steve and I cooled down, fed the dogs, got them out for a walk, then thought we’d wait a bit longer before heading back to the complex to see if we could somehow get in and at least call for her from the other side of the gates.  We then got a text from someone that lived at the Solimar development that he thought he had seen our cat (which later proved to be another cat that looked VERY similar).  We rushed over and were met with no way to enter in. 

Steve, being MacGyver, found a whole in a barbed wire fence that got us on to an old, abandoned golf course, that abutted the property.  We walked across the course and found a gate that was unlocked and got onto the compound and spent the next few hours walking the property, jingling her balls, shaking her treats, calling her name and asking everyone we saw if they had seen her.

We stumbled upon Arnoldo at the pool with his family and he asked if we had found her. We told him no and kept looking.  Finally, as the sun had set, we were exhausted and feeling a bit foolish and incredibly depressed. We bushwhacked our way back out of the compound as the gates all required a key to get in or out.  We made it to our car, and we got a message from Arnoldo (we still have NO idea how he got Steve’s contact as it wasn’t shared—so can only assume he saw our posts on one of the forums or that higher powers were at play), that he thought he had seen our cat at the pool up on the roof. He sent a fuzzy picture.  We had stumbled upon two other black cats on our search, so assumed it was one of them.  We almost didn’t go back, but Steve found a gate that he could scale, and I waited on the other side with the dogs.

I honestly expected him to come back empty handed and depressed but when I saw him emerge from the darkness towards the gate under a light illuminating the path, I couldn’t believe it.  He was holding Kala in his arms.  I burst into tears, and he handed her through the wrought iron gate to me. I squatted down and the dogs and she nuzzled, and she just let me hold her. If you guys know her at all, that is not something she lets us do. In fact, at first, I thought—this can’t be my cat.  It was SOOO her.  I was overwhelmed with shock, tears, confusion, joy and gratitude. 

We are now in our condo with 2 dogs and a cat sprawled out on the bed as if none of this ever happened. Kala lost a lot of weight out there over one month and 7 days and has a huge scar on the back of her neck that looks like it was pretty intense but had healed beautifully. She has eaten about a half a pound of ham, her favorite treat, dog treats and a small bowel of her dry food. We were so unprepared to actually find her that we had to make a makeshift litter box. 

All of the forums of San Carlos are celebrating our find of her. We told NO one that we were there because of a psychic animal communicator. In fact, none of you would have heard this story had we landed in Mexico only to find nothing.  I fully expected that at moments, but the dreams and intuition urged me on. I knew I at least had to try and create closure for my health and sanity. 

We are hopping back in the car early Saturday morning to drive straight through back to Altadena with our family unit intact.  This is utterly surreal, and we still can’t quite believe it.  I just wanted to share this amazing experience with all of you.  The power of intuition and the flood of gratitude must be shared to empower us all. 

Thanks for taking time to read this ridiculously long story!

Big hugs and high fives,

Nasha, Steve, Mitra, Moji and the adventure kitty, Kala”

Steve Ottersberg –

“It is dark now, Nasha and I have been trespassing on the Solimar grounds, the golf course and the Country Club for about 90 minutes at this point.  The animal communicator told us to focus on the pool, this is where I had seen food put out for the ferrule cats in the complex in June. There were barking dogs at the pool, so we had all but given up for having a sunset sighting tonight. 

After making the trek through the golf course and country club back to the car, I got a text message with a picture from Arnaldo Alvarez, who we spoke to just about three hours prior.  He and his family were staying in Solimar 1, next to Solimar 2 where we lost Kala in June.  We did not exchange contact information so, he must have searched the Facebook groups to find my posts.  “Steve we saw the cat.  Besides the pool in the roof” with a blurred picture of a cat on a tile roof.  This text came in at 7:59PM. 

Now parked on the road with no way to get into the complex, I decided to scale a rought iron fence, flanked by a spiny African milk weed and an agave to impale me if I fell.  I handed Nasha the dog leashes and I mustered all of my 20 something recollections of rock climbing and straddled the spiny plants to pull myself up an over the metal fence, between passing cars. 

I got over the fence with no blood loss and headed directly to the pool.  As I approached the pool, my heart sunk, hearing kids screaming with ecstasy as they splashed in the thick heat. 

I thought there was no way Kala would come out with the sounds of screaming kids and splashing.  I slowly walked the perimeter of the pool, peeking into the bougainvillea that lined the brick wall surrounding the pool, hoping to catch a glimpse of a tiny black cat.  I checked the low rooflines of condos and the pump house at the pool but saw no cat.  As I walked the perimeter of the pool, I encountered two new dogs at the pool that started barking at me.  With all of the noise, I thought she would never come out.  As I walked past the North entrance to the pool, I caught a small cat running east away from the pool, I followed it but it disappeared into the darkness. 

Continuing to walk the perimeter of the pool, clockwise from west, I rounded the corner to the south side of the pool, where the pump house was located.  As I walked east to west along the south side of the pool, a small black cat came running out of the bushes, meowing and ran up to me.  I instinctively bent over and picked her up.  My mind still unsure of the situation, I was silently wondering if this is Kala.  Could it be this easy?  Can we stop wondering?  Can we stop looking?  Can we take our baby home?  I couldn’t process it all, but I instinctively, held her close and started walking back to Nasha.  At one point holding her up to see if she was even female, but it was too dark to tell.  As I rounded the south entrance to the pool the two dogs ran up to bark and I almost lost her. 

Still basically on autopilot, I rounded the corner and headed back to the fence I scaled to get in, and without a word, I handed the candidate cat through the gate to Nasha.  Nasha immediately started crying as she knelt down to present kala to the dogs, who seemed to have no doubt that it was her as they nuzzled her with their noses.  Seeing Kala so comfortable with her dogs was my first internal conformation that it was indeed our cat.

I looked for a break in traffic, not so gracefully did the flip/flop hop over the metal fence to join our newly reunited family.  We went immediately to the car and sent a thank you to Arnaldo Alvarez, with a picture of Kala in the car.  He replied immediate with a thumbs up emoji.  I then sent a picture to my sister Janet and my niece Lauren, as they were two of the few people that even knew of the details of this heroic cross border rescue mission. 

We found her on day 1.  I was still in shock.  With each “get me out of this car” meow, it became more and more real to me that we had our baby.  We just needed to get her 5 blocks down the road, get her food and water, and let Monica know that her guidance led to us finding our cat.  Still it seemed unreal…”