Lilly, Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley’s family cat, has returned home after she vanished during the monster storm that hit the region over the weekend, prompting residents to help with the search.
Epley said they became worried when Lilly didn’t come home Friday. Every night, the family lets the 13-year-old cat out for a short time before bed; she almost always returns promptly, he said.
But not last Friday night, at the onset of the storm.
The Epleys searched for Lilly until 4 a.m., hoping to find the cat before it began to snow. But when Lilly didn’t return from her nightly stroll, Epley’s daughter Marissa started worrying and took to Facebook asking anyone in the Tuckahoe or Southampton Village areas to keep an eye out for the cat.
“We spent the night in the snow looking for her,” she wrote. “We are heartbroken.”
Last Chance Animal Rescue, an animal adoption organization in Southampton, posted about Lilly on its Facebook page Saturday night. Soon, hundreds of people from the Southampton community shared the post and many dozens commented, offering their support.
“Social media is an invaluable tool for helping find lost pets,” said Judith Langmaid, vice president of Last Chance Animal Rescue. “You have to get them seen to get them saved, and I think everyone wanted to see the mayor’s cat come home.”
Before last weekend’s storm, the Suffolk County SPCA issued some tips to help keep pets safe. The organization noted that animals can easily lose scents and become disoriented during snowstorms, and that more pets in the Northeast are lost during the winter than any other season.
Even during the snowstorm, friends and neighbors began looking for the black cat with white paws in and around their yards, said Epley, who also received a number of concerned phone calls from residents.
“It was really nice to see the concern and support from the community,” he said.
Lilly returned home late Sunday night. Epley said she looked “a little cold and a little hungry, but otherwise perfectly healthy.”