SUBSCRIBE NOW

Once missing, Milton cat survives being shot

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Milford Beacon

Two members of the McMahon family, of Milton, have taken a bullet and lived to tell about it.

When 46-year-old Darin McMahon, of Lewes, was accidentally shot last year, the last thing his family needed was for the family pet to go missing. However, it seems their cat, Aria, thought everyone else was missing.

Aria was staying with a relative while Darin was in the hospital in Pennsylvania. After about a month, she had had enough and decided to go home, “Homeward Bound” style.

Aria may not have crossed the Sierras, but she did cross Routes 9 and 24.

A girl and her cat

The family’s senior chocolate lab, Java, is Darin’s dog. He went with him to work daily and visited him in the hospital.

As Java is very much Darin’s dog, Aria is very much his daughter’s cat.

Darin and Tiffany McMahon have two children, Sage (almost eight) and Cohen (five). As a toddler, Sage was preoccupied by black and white cats and collected toy versions. Darin, however, was not a cat guy.

When Sage was three, Tiffany spotted a black and white cat for adoption from Grass Roots Rescue.

“I drug Darin to a paint night knowing the kittens would be there. He wanted nothing to do with her. I pleaded and begged but the answer was no,” Tiffany said. “Right as we were walking out the door I made one final comment about how special it would be if daddy brought the cat home to Sage. Needless to say we walked out with that kitten.”

Aria was nervous and mewing on the way home, but settled after climbing in Darin’s lap.

“He’s not a fan of cats, but if she wasn’t curled up with one of the kids at night she could be found laying on his chest,” Tiffany said.

Takes matters into her own paws

Tiffany was still spending most of her time at the Pennsylvania hospital with Darin. Aria was staying with Tiffany’s mom, in Angola.

Dec. 5 was the last day Aria would be seen for over a month.

A social media campaign was quickly mounted and area shelters called. Friends went out to look for her. Tiffany’s mother handed out flyers. One of their groomsmen, Tommy Engel of Lewes, offered a $500 reward for Aria’s safe return.

“Please return or help find our cat, this is the last thing my kids need,” Tiffany wrote. “Not just a cat – she is every bit a family member.”

Sage was “super-duper sad.” She thought someone was keeping her and didn’t want to give her back. Darin assured her the cat was headed home.

A few days after Aria went missing, people reported seeing her in east Angola, near Route 24. Someone reported spotting her near Holland Mills in Milton Dec. 19.

Around Christmas, Darin and Tiffany were able to return home, but the new year began without Aria.

‘A true act of God’

On the evening of Jan. 16, Tiffany posted another plea on Facebook.

“Sage cried for an hour before bed tonight about her missing kitty Aria. Has anyone seen or heard of a tuxedo kitty in the Angola area? I’m desperate.”

An hour later, a friend alerted her to a tuxedo cat found on Cave Neck Road in Milton. It looked like Aria, but Tiffany was apprehensive. She and Sage went to take a look.

“I found three amazing men who refused to take money from me, with our kitty wrapped up warm in a box waiting for us,” she said.

Aria had come meowing at someone’s door, just three miles from the McMahons and about 12 miles from Angola. It had been more than a month since she went missing.

One of Aria’s back legs was limp and she had many scrapes and cuts. Tiffany took her straight to Savannah Animal Hospital in Lewes, where they found she had pneumonia, a broken hip and a BB pellet an inch from her spine.

“This is a true act of God. We’ve had a [whirlwind] of temperature changes. She has bones in her belly, which means she was busy catching mice to stay alive,” Tiffany said. “We’re fortunate that, with surgery, Aria will regain her movement. I was beginning to question my faith but this has completely restored it.”

With the help of medication, Aria was soon able to return home. Savannah Animal Hospital discounted their bill due to the special circumstances, and Lewis Drexel Davidson, owner of Rehoboth Beach salon Bad Hair Day, graciously paid the rest.

For now, Aria is being confined to a small cage at night to allow her hip to heal. She spends her days next to Sage.