A feline with a bit of a wild streak returns home after disappearing from its Newport Beach confines in June.
By NIYAZ PIRANI
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
NEWPORT BEACH – The cub has returned to its mother, and everything again is right in this jungle.
For months, Corona del Mar resident Mikette Von Issenberg has been on a cat hunt, searching every day for Kimba, her beloved 3-year-old African jungle cat hybrid.
On Saturday, Jerry and Carol Ann Ruoff captured the miniature cougar-like animal in Pelican Crest in a 4-foot trap by baiting the animal with mackerel. Kimba was soon after reunited with his owner.
Von Issenberg, the stepdaughter of Henry Segerstrom, bought Kimba when he was 5 months old, and the two were almost inseparable for a month when she was sick. But Kimba went missing in June when Von Issenberg was in the hospital for six days.
"He is a real adventurous cat and would like to go exploring, but got lost," said Mark Klemperer, Kimba's breeder and a zoologist. "I think it was very likely he was looking for her. They bond very strongly with their owners."
In her search for Kimba, Von Issenberg scoured the canyon areas near her home and said she ran into packs of coyotes and bobcats, and saw mountain lion prints.
Von Issenberg contacted animal foundations, visited county animal shelters weekly, put ads in newspapers and continuously posted fliers around town. Von Issenberg said Kimba lost 15 pounds in the wild, and she said she dropped 50 pounds in the eight months from walking countless miles through neighborhoods and canyons at Little Corona trying to find him.
"I was up every day before the sun and every night after the sun went down looking for Kimba," she said.
When nothing worked, she turned to more unconventional means.
She left all of his bedding at the canyon in hopes that Kimba would return and even turned to "pet psychics" for help.
"I don't want people to think I'm nuts," she said. "But besides the animal foundations that I called, I talked to Barbara Morrison, who wrote 'Animals Can Talk.' "
Morrison told her that the only way she would find Kimba was to keep looking for the cat, but that eventually Kimba would come home. Patrice Ryan, another "psychic," agreed with Morrison but said Kimba would return in a mysterious way.
Von Issenberg bought another cat, named Kboo. But it didn't fill the void for Von Issenberg, who owns three cats, four goldfish and Dakota, a 150-pound Great Pyrenees.
Klemperer believes Kimba survived because of his wild blood, and Von Issenberg said her cat likely ate small birds, frogs and rodents while astray.
Kimba is on 30-day quarantine from her two other cats in case he contracted any diseases. Blood work has come back negative, but the quarantine is a precaution, Von Issenberg said.
"Before it got out, it was a handful. It was a nasty, mean-tempered cat," said Randall Aten, Kimba's veterinarian. "… Since coming home on Saturday …it was the reverse. The cat was very easygoing and completely sweet."
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