His name was Skyler.

Beloved pet. Adored and cherished.

He came to us in 2011, a 5-week-old tiny black and white blob of fur. He was our first kitty.

Skyler grew.

He ate voraciously and developed a special personality. Other kitties would join Skyler in our home and he accepted them with playful midnight romps across the floors and furniture.

He loved his toy balls and catnip mice. His entertainment was free and fun to watch.

Skyler did “cat scans.” I would gently pick up his now-Siamese elongated build and hold him high, moving him back and forth over my daughter’s friends’ heads, much to their amusement. Skyler would purr.

Needless to say, nobody ever did poorly with Skyler’s “cat scans.”

As he matured Skyler would saunter through the apartment, the king of the pride that he was.

Skyler had various comfort zones for snoozing: window ledges, a circular chair or the back of the sofa. However, his favorite spot was at the foot of my daughter’s soft bed.

He was her pride and joy. Sometimes he would be curled into a perfect ball, but most times he would be stretched out, topsy-turvy in perfect trusting abandon.

Skyler could do tricks.

He would come immediately when called. He was learning to hold a small plastic cup with some water between his paws. He had excellent hind leg balance, often standing to swipe a tasty treat with his paw.

Skyler was never allowed outside. He was content, secure and safe in our home.

So we thought.

Then came Dec. 31, 2013 with its “if onlys,” as in “If only we had not let Jarrod in. If only we had watched him leave. If only we could have afforded an ID chip for Skyler.”

If only we had never known Jarrod.

My beloved youngest daughter was coming to visit from Bath. I was thrilled and planned to make a sumptuous dinner for us all. Of course, the kitties were to have table treats, too!

If was up early and heard an obnoxious knock, over and over, on the door. I thought it was the police.

It was Jarrod. He said he had no where to go and was freezing.

Jarrod was one of my daughter’s “cat scan” buddies. We had known Jarrod for some time and Skyler trusted him. We knew Jarrod had some issues, but he had never hurt or stolen from us.

To quiet him and spare the whole building the racket of his knocking, I let him in.

I asked if he needed a meal, and he said no, but would appreciate using the shower. I gave him some soap and a clean towel.

After the shower I told Jarrod he had to leave because I had to shower and prepare dinner.

He scowled but got ready to leave. The kitties were circulating around the dining room table, close to the back door.

When he had his coat and backpack on, I told him again he had to leave. I slammed the bathroom door and then heard the back door shut.

Little did I know the finality of that sound. I could not have fathomed what had just happened.

Skyler was gone. Just like that. Whisked away in one cruel, decisive swoop.

I came out of the bathroom a half-hour later and the kitties looked ill at ease. I fed them breakfast, but Skyler was not there. He often skipped his morning meal, so I thought he was contently sleeping in my daughter’s room.

Several hours later, after our meal was ready, I peered into my daughter’s room to check on Skyler and he wasn’t there. He was no where to be found.

I called his name. We all called his name. Skyler would have come when called. Skyler would never hide. Skyler would never have left on his own. He was terrified of the outdoors.

My daughter called Jarrod. At first, he said Skyler had gotten out. When pressed, he admitted taking Skyler.

We were stunned. We might expect a TV to be stolen, or a stereo, a necklace or a cell phone. But an adored, beloved pet?

We were outraged and deeply hurt because we had always been kind to Jarrod.

After that call, he changed his phone number. He blocked us on Facebook. We went to the police but the police needed an address to question him. None of his friends had an address and his parents didn’t know where he lived.

We couldn’t find Jarrod.

Was Skyler frozen to death?

Did Jarrod torture or kill him?

We could only hope and pray that Skyler was somewhere warm. Somewhat fed. At least somewhat cared for.

I have never heard of something as heartless as stealing away someone’s beloved pet from inside their apartment!

I have knocked on hundreds of doors in Auburn and Lewiston. It’s always the same response: “We know Jarrod but don’t know where he is.”

Without being able to find Jarrod, we will never be able to find Skyler.

We have another kitty, Skyler’s son. He loves to be held in the same “cat scan” position, but he’ll never take Skyler’s place. Skyler was unique.

He is gone, but the memories of him will never leave us. He was adored and cherished, and we will love him always.

Margaret Helena Hunter is a resident of Lewiston.

Editor’s note: The author wrote this piece to alert readers about the U.S. Humane Society’s documented link between animal cruelty and other crimes. She hopes the community will become more aware that abuse of animals may lead to violence against people. To read the research, go to: www.humanesociety.org. The name of the young man who took Hunter’s cat has been changed; although he has a criminal history, he has not been charged with any crime in connection to this incident.

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