Justice may be blind, but for once, it has a heart.
In less than two weeks, an ashy gray cat warmed its way into the unlikeliest of hearts.
When Slinky the cat found itself alone and without food near the Gila County jail and courtroom in Payson Nov. 2, she did what any cat would do — she meowed and clawed.
And meowed some more.
Soon prisoners, judges and courtroom staff noticed Slinky’s not so subtle calls.
During a recent trial, Slinky persistently sat outside the courtroom doors, peering her pink nose through a crack in the door and meowing merrily.
During breaks, court staff petted the white-pawed cat and prisoners next door in the jail were soon stroking her through a chain link fence.
wouldn’t let her pet her. Later, St. Laurent saw the cat hopping over the fence behind Napa Auto Parts and thought it was heading home.
However, the next day, she saw Slinky again, this time near the back door of the courtroom.
St. Laurent tried again to pet the cat, but it resisted. By Nov. 4, Slinky finally relented and let St. Laurent pet her.
Courtroom bailiff Rosie Grice and the court reporter also took a liking to the cat, which roamed dutifully behind the jail and courtroom nearly every day, St. Laurent said.
“She was not there all the time, but after a while, we made friends with her and she would follow us to the courtroom door,” she said. “She was such a darling, but we didn’t know she was lost.”
It wasn’t until the court case wrapped up for the day Nov. 9, that St. Laurent remembered seeing a poster nearby “and blessed if it wasn’t a picture of that kitty,” she said.
The poster read: “Lost Cat, grey with white chest and paws. $50 Reward”
St. Laurent called the number on the poster and left a message for Viola Najar.
Najar said when she got St. Laurent’s message, she tried to call her back, but when she couldn’t get a hold of her, she called the jail and asked if they had seen a cat. An employee said they had and brought it inside until Najar could drive up from the Valley.
It seems on Nov. 2, Najar was heading to Holbrook from the Valley to bring Slinky to the vet and had stopped in Payson for a break. When she went into the Payson post office, Slinky managed to slip out of small crack in Najar’s car window and ran away.
“I was so upset,” she said. “I went back on Sunday to put out fliers and even put an ad in the paper.”
When Najar finally arrived in Payson, Slinky was sitting in a dispatcher’s lap, happily being petted.
This isn’t the first time Slinky has been rescued. Four years ago, Najar found Slinky roaming around her back yard and took her in.
“I just love her so much,” she said.
And Slinky seems to return the sentiment.
“She is doing so good, she is so happy to be home,” Najar said. “She was sitting on my lap the whole day after I got her back.”
As for that reward, St. Laurent “absolutely” refused to take it.
“This is just the most marvelous thing and we are tickled to death,” she said.