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How Clancy the cat became a Klondiker

If Jack London had decided to write about a rough-and-tumble cat, he would have written about a cat like Clancy. The orange tabby has crammed quite the explorer's life into his five years.

If Jack London had decided to write about a rough-and-tumble cat, he would have written about a cat like Clancy.

The orange tabby has crammed quite the explorer’s life into his five years. Most recently he was found scrounging for food in Dawson City, about four months after he disappeared while visiting the area.

He’s a little tattered around the edges now. His ears have pieces missing from them, maybe from foxes or possibly frostbite.

But his personality is intact, says Dani Thorne, shelter co-ordinator with the Humane Society Dawson. He purrs every time someone opens his cage door.

Clancy heard the call of the wild back in May when he and his owner Bill Burles hopped in their camouflage-patterned RV - Bill driving and Clancy riding shotgun - and headed north from their home in Penticton, B.C.

It wasn’t their first trip North of 60. In 2013 they put 12,000 kilometres on the RV, including a visit to Whitehorse.

They camped and travelled.

Clancy has always been an outdoor cat. He was taken off the streets of Penticton in 2012 before Burles decided to adopt him from the local rescue group AlleyCats Alliance.

“He wasn’t the prettiest cat, that’s for sure,” Burles remembers.

But Burles, whose dog had just died, decided to give Clancy a home.

The two got along well. While camping with Burles, Clancy was let out, but always returned home.

During the 2013 trip, Clancy wandered away once, but Burles was able to find him and trap him.

But on that fateful day in July, when Burles and Clancy were camping near the Bonanza Gold Motel, the cat wandered off and didn’t come home.

Burles spent weeks looking for him.

“I eventually thought, you know what, something’s got him.”

Burles returned to B.C. without his travel buddy but not before filing a report with the local humane society.

Fast forward to November.

Thorne was at the shelter when she got a call from a woman who had found a stray cat.

“He had been spotted in the Bonanza Gold Motel area for a few weeks now. I guess people had been trying to catch him,” she says. “But she just shook the food and was able to get him in her car in five minutes. He was so hungry he ripped open her bag of cat food.”

The Good Samaritan was on her way out of Dawson, so Thorne came by right away to pick up the cat.

As shelter co-ordinator, she says she’s always in touch with Dawsonites who have lost their pets. No one local had reported an orange tabby cat missing.

That’s when she started thinking about the tourist from months earlier.

“I just sort of had that feeling, it was too much of a coincidence, same area, male tabby cat,” she says.

A call to the AlleyCats Alliance for photo confirmation and a scan of the cat’s microchip confirmed his identity.

Clancy had survived. Some might consider him an honourary Sourdough.

Thorne admits it’s uncommon for a cat to survive out in the wild for so long. She calls the whole situation “absolutely insane.”

It was a call Burles wasn’t expecting.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he says.

He says Clancy is more than welcome to come back and live with him.

It’ll be a few weeks before the cat is ready to travel. Aside from the damage from foxes and frostbite, Clancy had dirty eyes, ear mites and probably worms, Thorne says.

But a once-over from the vet found no long-term damage.

He’s sleeping and eating at the Dawson Humane Society for now.

December van den Berg, president and co-founder of AlleyCats Alliance, says the group is fundraising right now to bring Clancy home to Penticton.

Thorne is confident he’ll find a good home wherever he ends up.

“He’s such a sweet cat… He’s remained pretty positive and lovely throughout this whole experience.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at