Man cashes out 401k to get missing cat back

Posted at 10:57 PM, Mar 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-18 23:00:37-04

HOUSTON (KHOU/CNN) -- Meet Dolly, the $5,000 cat. Meet her owner, Keith Hardin, who was willing to put his money on the line to find his missing cat, Dolly.

"She's just like a child," said her owner Keith Hardin. "That's the simplest way I could put it."

Hardin didn't spend that much cash to adopt the exotic short hair, but after she went missing he rustled up the cash.

Dolly vanished New Year's Eve after someone broke into Hardin's Greenspoint apartment. He didn't know if Dolly was stolen or if she ran out of the open door.

Hardin put flyers up all over his neighborhood and even got help from a co-worker and fellow cat lover, Charles Frey.

"One of my cats passed away from lung cancer a little more than a month ago and that motivated me to help Keith try to find his cat," he said.

Hardin originally offered an undisclosed amount as a reward. By February, the reward was up to $1,000.

In March, co-worker Frey chipped in some money and Hardin withdrew money from his 401k to raise the reward to a whopping $5,000.

"My mom just thinks I'm absolutely nuts to spend that much money on a cat," Hardin said. "She's not a cat person but I know she would have done it in a heartbeat for her dog."

Two weeks ago, Hardin took a call from someone saying they found remains of a black cat that resembled Dolly.

Believing it was her, Hardin took the remains to be cremated for $125.

He put Dolly to rest or so he thought.

On Sunday, Hardin was contacted by a woman who claimed she found Dolly in a nearby apartment complex. She even e-mailed him pictures as proof.

"I couldn't stop shaking," Hardin told us. "My heart was completely in my throat."

The "cat for cash" exchange happened at a public place and Dolly was checked out by her vet.

This time around they had a microchip implanted into Dolly this time around.