VILONIA — One of the smallest Vilonia tornado victims has made it home.
Black Velvet, a solid black tomcat, has been missing from his Vilonia home for nearly five months, since the morning after the April 25 tornado.
A few days ago, Black Velvet’s owners, Keith and Debra Rorie, said they were eating dinner and the cat mysteriously appeared perched on a fence rail in their backyard, a place he loved to sit before the storm. While they are elated with his return, they are mystified regarding his existence while he was missing.
"He looks like someone has been taking good care of him," Keith Rorie said. "His personality is the same. It’s just like he has been here all along. He went right back to his same habits."
The first couple of days following the tornado, the couple, who were spared significant damage, were focused on helping others who were less fortunate, such as Debra Rorie’s sister Teresa, whose house was destroyed. They said they didn’t think suspect anything was wrong with the cat. The cat’s personality, they said, is so that he prefers the outdoors and doesn’t like a significant amount of attention.
"He’s not real social," Debra Rorie said. "And he’s been known to wander."
When they realized he had been gone almost a week, though, they began to worry as well as hunt. A month gone by, they deemed the hunt to be a "lost cause." Yet, they never gave up hope and continued to look. Keith Rorie believes he might have had a sighting of the cat near the school district’s bus barn at about 6 a.m. one morning during the summer. He’s not positive it was his cat, however, because that cat saw him and tucked tail and ran the other way. That seemed to be unlikely scenario since they have had the cat for about six or seven years — since he was a kitten.
The Rories said their cat is not the only one that left after the tornado and returned home recently. Both of the Rories are employed at the Vilonia Middle School and they said a co-worker’s cat left at the same time and returned home about two weeks prior to the return of Black Velvet.
"It’s a mystery. I don’t know, maybe they think it’s safe now," Debra Rorie concluded.