Rags to riches, lucky Eckerty cat strikes it big


Matsushita and Hunter

Miss Hunter is living the high life.

She spends her days watching YouTube cat videos on her iTablet while lounging on her Victorian furniture. And, typically, there’s a daily trip to her favorite local watering hole — Starbucks.

“From rags to riches this cat went,” said Deborah Matsushita of Burbank, California.

Yeah, Hunter’s a cat.

“From death’s doorstep to our home,” Deborah added.

The feline’s unlikely story started in Eckerty — a small Crawford County community of about 900 — located just south of Patoka Lake.

Deborah visited Eckerty last summer after helping a friend move his belongings from Los Angeles to his new Crawford County home. She’s an antique dealer and stayed in the area for about a month, picking up pieces at various farms and properties.

Something she remembers most about her trip is seeing all the cats on the various properties she visited.

“It was heartbreaking to see the cats just reproducing and in such poor shape running around on various properties,” she said.

When she returned home to California, her friend called her and told her about a kitten that had wandered onto his property. The cat was about 2 months old and weighed 1 pound, 2 ounces. It was infested with fleas, and had lung and eye problems.

“You name it, this cat had it,” Deborah said.

So, Deborah’s friend took it to the veterinarian and nursed it back to health. The problem was, though, the cat didn’t get along with the one he already had.

“I told him we’d take it,” Deborah said. She and her husband, Richard, had two cats at the time, one of which is now currently on its death bed.

Deborah immediately decided to call the kitten Hunter, since the vet had told her friend it was a male. She later found out the cat is female, which spurred the nickname “Miss Hunter.”

Richard made arrangements to fly to St. Louis and then drive to Eckerty to pick up Hunter. Coincidentally, Richard is a technical director in Hollywood and worked on Black Panther, which debuts today in theaters. We asked, but no, Hunter’s not black.

“She’s all gray, a Russian Blue cat,” Deborah said. “She has a glow about her.”

It’s a glow that serves her well in Hollywood.

Photo courtesy of Deborah Matsushita

If Deborah is out and about, there’s a good chance Hunter is with her.

“I take her into Starbucks in my full-length mink jacket,” Deborah said. “Everybody knows about her there.”

The duo goes on daily walks, which consist of Deborah pushing the feline in an old vintage doll cart from one of the woman’s picking excursions.

In addition to the iTablet and Victorian cat furniture, Hunter also has her own bedroom.

“She has whatever she needs,” Deborah said. “Everybody needs their own stuff.”

The Matsushitas’ cats also travel with them on vacation to places like Arizona, Idaho and Utah. The couple has an SUV just so the cats can ride along; Hunter sits in a booster seat that enables the furball to look out the window.

“We have no kids, so they are our kids,” Deborah said. “They’re 100 percent spoiled, but we wouldn’t have them any other way, because this is just a short journey they’re on.”

While her mom spoke on the phone to The Herald early Wednesday afternoon (morning in California), Hunter was sprawled out on a cat tree in the Matsushitas’ Burbank home, a more than 2,000-mile car ride from Eckerty.

“She’s got an 18-foot window she’s looking out, and she’s enjoying the good life,” Deborah said.

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