After three years apart, a Saskatoon woman was finally able to hold Walter White in her arms again.
White, a grey-haired cat who spends his time indoors and is named after the main character from the well-known Breaking Bad television show, slipped out the door in September 2019 while Nikky Barks and her family moved into their new home.
It was a new area and that’s why she believes he couldn’t find his way home.
But on Sept. 29, the cat was brought into the Saskatoon SPCA. After Walter White was identified, the animal shelter and charity called Barks, who picked him up the same day.
“It was kind of a surreal call, I felt bad for my boss because I literally looked at him and told him I was leaving,” Barks told Shauna Powers, host of CBC’s Saskatchewan Weekend.
Barks said she was in disbelief when she first saw him and began “ugly crying.”
“It was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in a long time,” she said. “I couldn’t even hold in the tears.”
As she recounted the reunion — the first time White heard her call his nickname; burying his head into her — she had to stop for a moment to stave off the tears.
Jacolen Richards, an adoption counsellor with the Saskatoon SPCA, witnessed the reunion between the two and said the cat took a moment to realize who Barks was, but could see the happiness on the feline’s face.
“As soon as he crawled into her arms I was undone; there was not a dry eye in the place,” she said.
Losing Walter White
Barks said the family adopted him in January 2016 and named the cat after the famous Breaking Bad main character because she was a huge fan of the show.
She laughed that the kitten’s personality didn’t match the main character, and to her knowledge the cat didn’t own a camper van in the middle of the desert, but his grumpy, old man appearance seemed to fit with the name Walter.
After losing the cat, Barks said she searched to every lost and found animal Facebook page in Saskatoon, plastered posters about her missing cat, searched for days and filed a lost report to the SPCA.
She said she checked in with the SPCA once or twice a week.
“I literally did everything in my power, I don’t think there was a community board anywhere that didn’t have a picture with him on it,” Barks said.
Years later, a pair of women brought the cat into the SPCA after they had seen White wandering in the backyard and the weather was getting colder.
After the SPCA did their initial checkup and scanned for a microchip, they called Barks.
Richards said the SPCA does not microchip pets for the general public but people can speak to their veterinarian about getting them microchipped.
Saskatchewan Weekend12:53The cat came back: an incredible reunion story
The chronicles of Walter White have also been emotionally turbulent for Barks’ family as well, saying her youngest son was attached to him before he went missing, including sleeping with him at night.
“I have never seen them cry like they did,” she said.
Barks said her son made her pull over on the way home from the SPCA so he could check the carrier and see his lost friend.
Since he’s been home, Barks said the cat has some separation anxiety. He cries when people leave the room, stays awake at nights and is “stuck like glue” to her and her children.
She said she’s often reassuring him that her trips to the bathroom aren’t goodbyes and giving him a lot of love.
He’s “just getting used to the fact that he’s got his family back,” she said.
Barks has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for “painful” dental issues, according to the page.
“I’m so happy to cuddle him at night and snuggle him and love him and just to get him back to the way that he left in,” Barks said.