This story borrows the title of the classic Tin Pan Alley song, “The Cat Came Back” with a little feline telepathy thrown in. The “Buffalo News,” January 23, 1891. (A reprint from the “Syracuse Journal.”)
Fritz Heath is the noble son of a worthy mother. Fritz is a large gray and white tiger cat. Fritz and his mother, Gyp. are the proteges of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Heath. Both are cats of unusual size and beauty, that of Fritz being only marred by a jagged rent in his right ear, incurred in some slight youthful disagreement.
Fritz is an amateur acrobat of considerable ability, and will roll over, jump through a hoop and turn somersaults at word of command. He also has the trick of jumping to catch the edge of the table top with his paws and swinging suspended while he surveys the prospect of a good dinner for Fritz. Two years ago there was mourning in the house of Heath. Fritz had suddenly disappeared. At night Gyp came into the house, sniffed at the basket she and Fritz had occupied together since the latter's kittenhood, and walked disconsolately away.
The Heaths thought perhaps their pet had been carried across the canal and could not get back, so they wandered in Finegan avenue and the purlieus of the Fourth ward and searched diligently, but he could not be found. Time heals broken hearts, and as the months passed by all but Gyp forgot the missing member of the household. She could not be induced to go near the accustomed bed still kept for her by the fire, and refused to be comforted.
A little more than two weeks ago she jumped into the basket for the first time since Fritz's disappearance, and lying down began to purr contentedly. A few days afterward Mr. Heath and his wife returned from an evening call. A cat, which they in the darkness supposed to be Gyp, was crying on the doorstep, and as they opened the door it ran into the hallway and out again as quickly. Later in the evening Mrs. Heath heard the crying at the door, and, being possessed of a tender heart toward suffering animals, proposed going down to bring in the poor thing, which had proved not to be Gyp, and give it something to eat. As she opened the door the cat darted into the hallway and up the stairs to the Heath apartments. When it came into the lighted sitting room Mrs. Heath exclaimed, “Why, Tom, it's Fritz!”
Hearing his name Fritz bounded into Mrs. Heath's lap, from hers to her husband's, turned somersaults, rolled over and performed all the tricks he had been taught, as if to thoroughly identify himself or to express his joy at getting home. "It surely is Fritz," thought the rejoiced Heaths, and they examined the cat's right ear. It was split! There was little doubt then of its being Fritz, but to make assurance doubly sure a small stick was thrown down the stairs into the dark hallway.
"Go get it, Fritz," said Mr. Heath, and the cat darted downstairs, returning instantly with the stick triumphantly balanced in his mouth, a trick, by the way, common enough with retrievers, that few cats have ever been taught to perform. After a good supper the reclaimed Fritz went straight to the basket behind the stove and cuddled down contented. Gyp gave the intruder a smart rap with her paw, but seeming at once to recognize her prodigal son fell on his neck and kissed him.
Fritz now stays very closely at home. His two years' absence seems to have given him an increased regard for the shadows of the family roof tree.
A strange question, and one which should interest psychologists, is this: Did the old cat receive some telepathic information that Fritz was about to return which dispelled her aversion to the basket? Had she seen him prowling around the house for two or three weeks, not daring to come back, or was it simply a coincidence?