All journeys end. For a 12-year-old cat, its journey with a New Glasgow family ended the way it began.
"It was an incredible journey," said Margie Garland.
Ten years ago, a beige-orange cat arrived on Garland's doorstep. She had seen it around her north end neighborhood a few times already that winter, sleeping under sheds and other people's doorsteps.
But when it arrived at her home, Garland and her husband did what they have done with so many other strays. They took it in.
"His fur was so matted," recalled Margie. "Like ten layers of matted fur."
Garland provided food, which the purring stray ate up while Garland removed large chunks of hair from the cat's long fur coat.
At that time, she and her husband had already taken in five cats and they didn't feel they had room for one more.
"We take them in, bring them to the vet. Some, like small kittens, we'll pass to the SPCA," said Garland. "We just do what needs to be done."
Thankfully, the Garland's in-laws, who live five kilometers away in Coalburn, had recently lost their cat of 20 years and were more than happy to take this one.
The cat stayed in Coalburn for seven days. Then, on the eighth day, it was gone.
Garland and her husband brought a humane trap cage for the runaway stray, thinking that it must have been close to its new home.
But the cat was on a journey.
Two days later, it was back at Garland's doorstep.
"I often wonder what route he took," said Garland thinking of the overland trek between Coalburn and her home. "It was like he chose us."
Because of the distance this cat traveled to stay with them, Garland named it Miles.
Last month, Miles died of congestive heart failure.
On Oct. 23, 2019, Garland was taking Miles back to Coalburn. Not to live, of course, but to see his groomer.
"So the last day of his journey ended like the first day of his journey with our family," said Garland.
Afterward, she took Miles to the vet and held his paw for the last time.
"Some are harder to lose than others. He was one of them."
In honour of Miles, Garland is holding a fundraiser.
Jo Mader of Westville has donated a Christmas lamp which she decorated for the fundraiser called "A Light for Miles".
Each ballot costs $5 and every bit of it goes toward SPAY and NEUTER Pictou County (Cats), which is a registered non-profit that began in Sept. 2013 to offer low-cost spay or neuter to those who need the financial assistance.
Donations can be made at any of the four veterinary clinics in Pictou County, or etransfers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We take in cats because we love them. We don't want to see them abandoned," said Garland who hopes that other cats won't have to walk for miles to find food and shelter.