Bill can relax now. Hillary has been found.
Hillary, the black Persian cat that opened the push-button window of her owner's car near the Capital Beltway on Aug. 5 and jumped out the window, has been found safe by an 11-year-old Alexandria girl who lives several miles away.
Except for a fur ball and a little dirt on her coat, Hillary was unscathed by her leap out of a Suzuki Vitara and three weeks in the wilds of Alexandria.
"She's tired, you can tell," said her ecstatic owner, Emmanuelle Ryden, 27, who claimed Hillary at the Alexandria animal shelter yesterday. "I figured somebody would spot her. She's kind of a unique-looking cat."
The evening of Aug. 5, Ryden and her husband, Joakim, were taking Hillary to their Springfield home for the first time. The previous owners of Hillary and her mate, Bill, had moved and didn't want them anymore, and a co-worker of Ryden's at the Council of Ethical Organizations was trying to find them new homes.
Ryden wanted to keep the couple together but feared her apartment was too small. So she and her husband decided to take just Hillary, and, because they hadn't known they would be going home with a new pet that night, they didn't have a cat carrier with them. Hillary rode in the back.
As they exited Route 1 onto the Beltway, Ryden didn't hear the hum of the electric window in the back seat. But she saw a flash of black and white fur. "I saw her land and run across the highway," she said. "I was in shock."
After a futile search, the Rydens reported Hillary missing to the Alexandria Animal Welfare League, and "LOST!" fliers were posted.
Vickie Maun, 39, and her daughter, Amber, 11, were parking their car Tuesday night outside their town house on Eisenhower Avenue when they spotted Hillary. Amber was immediately drawn to the black cat with the orange eyes.
"Leave the cat alone, it probably belongs to someone," Vickie Maun told her daughter. "It's a cute little thing, but we already have a cat."
Amber's mother let her bring the cat inside and give it food and water, but only after she checked with neighbors to see if they had lost a cat.
The next day, Amber made signs on her computer that said a black cat with white paws had been "LOST AND FOUND," and she and a friend circulated them around their neighborhood. Amber became very attached to the black cat, but Hillary didn't much care for Lukas, the other feline in the house. "She kept hissing," Amber said of Hillary.
Word got back to the shelter that a black cat had been found, and workers there suspected it might be Hillary. Hearing about her cat's relationship with Lukas, Ryden said she was not surprised.
"For some reason, she only gets along with Bill," Ryden said of Hillary's mate, who has not yet been adopted.