NEBRASKA – During the Memorial Day weekend, Susan Rosenbach headed out to Great Bend, Kan., to spend the holiday with her family and friends. She met up with her sister, spent time with her cousins and visited her mother’s grave.
Rosenbach headed home to Nebraska at approximately 10:30 a.m. on June 1, and after a few stops, arrived home in Dannebrog at about 4 p.m.
It would have been a completely normal trip, except for the fact Rosenbach drove four hours back to Nebraska without knowing a kitten had somehow stowed away underneath her car.
On Wednesday morning, it was back to work for Rosenbach, who is a historical interpreter at Stuhr Museum. Everything about her commute seemed normal until she got to the main entrance. Bev Logue, who was working the gate that morning, said to Rosenbach that she heard meowing and asked if there was a cat in the car.
A bit puzzled, Rosenbach got out to investigate. She heard the meowing also , but knew there wasn’t a cat with her. After looking around, Rosenbach realized the poor kitty was stuck somewhere in the underside of her car.
At the museum’s morning meeting, she went on to explain the situation and asked her co-workers for help.
“The only logical thing that could have happened is that the kitten crawled up there when I was in Kansas and rode all the way back with me,” Rosenbach stated.
Stuhr Museum’s blacksmith, whose name is Randy Dack, and interpreter, Ben Middendorf, volunteered to help get the cat out.
“We ended up having to take down the spare tire,“ Middendorf stated. “Randy sat under the car for about five minutes with a tin of food and finally coaxed him out.”
Rosenbach confirmed that everyone who had helped was happy to see the cat out of the car and safe. However, Middendorf showed a particular interest.
In the days which followed, he called her to make sure the cat was doing well and adjusting to his new home in Nebraska. Rosenbach said she could tell Middendorf was interested in adopting the cat, and she just knew he could provide a good home.
“I’m a cat person,” he stated. “I’ve always wanted a cat and always wanted a black cat as well. It just came together.”
In the end, the kitten was a perfect fit for Middendorf. However, his parents were skeptical about adding a new pet to the family.
“My dad’s not real keen on too many pets, but I managed to convince them,” he explained with a smile.
Middendorf has owned the cat not even for a week but said so far, everything is going well. The cat has nicely settled into his new home and name, Narknom, well.
Narknom is the name of a hunting cat in “The Blue Sword,” a fantasy novel which was written by Robin McKinley. Middendorf said his family likes to name their animals after characters in their favorite books and Narknom fit the cat perfectly.
While Middendorf likes the kitten, he isn’t as big of a hit with the family’s 14-year-old lab and other 12-year-old cat.
“Neither of them are too happy about Narknom coming in,” he stated. “They’re used to running the roost.”
The cat will stay with his parents for the next two years until Middendorf has completed school at Concordia University. After graduation, he then plans to take Narknom to live with him. It’s clear Middendorf found the perfect companion, even if it was in an unconventional way.
Rosenbach stated she’s happy the cat found a home and is glad everything turned out OK in the end.
“It really was a group effort,” she concluded. “I’m grateful that I work with people who are so caring and helpful.”