Stella, aka Styx, in high spirits
By Scott Bellile
A kitten who nearly drowned in the Wolf River last September is acclimating to her new home and doing well, her adoptive owners said.
Stella, who now is around 10 months old, shares a house in Hortonville with Craig and Chris Dreier, their 10-year-old male cat Ozzy and a 5-month old female yellow Lab named Remmy.
The Press Star reported last fall that Stella, whom veterinarians named Styx back then, had leaped off a bridge in downtown New London and bolted into the water where she wasn’t able to swim. Three women tried to save Stella before a couple passed by on a boat and retrieved her from the river.
Shy but loveable
Stella shows no signs of trauma from the incident, but she displays a shy personality around strangers, the Dreiers said. She is difficult to coax downstairs when the Dreiers have company.
When the Dreiers first brought her home from Wolf River Veterinary Clinic in New London last October, she initially hid under the bed. It also took time to stop hissing at Ozzy through a gate and acclimate to him.
“It just took a little time and now they’re like best buds,” Craig Dreier said.
Around the owners she knows, Stella is sweet, happy and lovable, Chris Dreier said. She loves playing and lying by them on the couch.
“She’s a hundred percent normal, at least when it’s just us,” Chris Dreier said.
Some of Stella’s quirky behaviors include playing catch with headbands, eating shredded cheese, trying to get into the houseplants, and attempting to grab bites of food while Chris Dreier prepares dinner. Also notable, Stella has an extra toe on two of her paws.
How ‘Styx’ found a family
Chris Dreier first saw Stella last October when she brought their terminally ill yellow Lab Ellie to the vet’s office. The news article about “Styx’s” rescue from the Wolf River was displayed by her cage.
“She was adorable as a kitten,” Chris Dreier said. “I mean, she had such a sweet face and such beautiful colors. And then you read the story and that just tugs at you more.”
Chris Dreier was worried Ozzy would become lonely once Ellie was gone. (Ellie later died on New Year’s; Remmy did not join the family until Jan. 28.) Ozzy and Ellie were the same age and had joined the Dreier family the same weekend, so the two were longtime companions.
The Dreiers agreed Ozzy could use a friend, so a week later they adopted Styx. Styx was in high demand given the attention her story was getting, the veterinarian had told Chris Dreier.
Seeking a more feminine name than Styx, Chris Dreier renamed her Stella after a “Seinfeld” joke that itself was a reference to “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Stella’s fall into the river happened Sept. 15, 2017, during what was intended to be an attempt to protect her.
Rhonda Steingraber of New London was driving on Pearl Street with her daughter Olivia when they saw the kitten dart in front of traffic.
As the Steingrabers tried to get Stella to safety, she leaped through the safety bars between the Sigurd W. Krostue Memorial Bridge and Karen Gething’s State Farm Insurance office.
State Farm employee Melissa Van Wyk told the Press Star last fall the water was low enough that Stella landed on the sand, not rocks.
Van Wyk and the Steingrabers found her hiding in a nook of the building and hissing. Stella then took off through the rocks and jumped into the water. She struggled to stay afloat in the current and the women didn’t want to risk their own lives.
Bob and Nancy Bellile of New London showed up at just the right time. The couple were enjoying a boat ride on the Wolf River when they noticed an unusual sight along the south bank.
“All the sudden we’d seen these three ladies kind of flailing their arms. I thought they were saying, ‘Can you get our hat?’” Nancy Bellile said.
The Belliles realized the women said “cat.” Bob Bellile drifted over to Stella and scooped her up from the water and Nancy Bellile set her in a towel.
Stella was silent at first, so Nancy Bellile thought she swallowed too much water to vocalize. Then Stella let out a “huge meow” to indicate all was well, Nancy Bellile said.
Stella was wet but not injured or sick when she came to Wolf River Veterinary Clinic, according to veterinary technician Stephanie Weisshahn.
Nancy Bellile said Bob Bellile had wanted another cat since their last one died. She thought maybe the rescue was the first sign they were destined to adopt Stella.
The second sign came when Nancy Bellile read the article about the kitten’s rescue in the newspaper last fall.
Oddly enough, the signs led the Belliles to a different cat.
“She was a sweet little thing,” Nancy Bellile said of Stella, “but I fell in love with this black one I ended up adopting.
“I guess the best thing that came out of it was two cats got adopted,” Nancy Bellile added.
Rhonda Steingraber was satisfied with the way things worked out for Stella, too.
“We were just happy she was OK, and now I’m glad she’s found a home,” she said.