Feline’s fate a mystery

Monique Spicer’s cat, Pierre Cardin, has been missing since a fire gutted her Lambertville home Dec. 22.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — Have you seen this cat?
   Pierre Cardin, a large and fluffy gray cat with yellow eyes, has been missing since Dec. 22 when a fire gutted the York Street home where he was staying while his owner, Monique Spicer of Clinton, was on vacation.
   "He looks like he would weigh 18 pounds but he’s not," Ms. Spicer said. "It’s all fur."
   No one knows if Pierre is dead, perished in the fire or if he somehow escaped in all the confusion and commotion. No remains have been found yet, according to a spokesman for the Lambertville police.
   "I just would like to have closure," Ms. Spicer said. "If my cat perished in the fire, I just would like to have his body or remains found so I can give him his final resting place on my property (where) he loved so much to play outside with me."
   She said, "I’m like a girl missing a heartbeat. All I want is closure. It’s killing me."
   Pierre is a big old softy, or, as his owner described him, "one big buttercup." He likes to be stroked and kissed and cuddled. Ms. Spicer called him "a people cat."
   He can fetch a stick and drop it at your feet as well as any dog. He goes potty in a people toilet. He enjoys sunbathing and rolling in the grass.
   Ms. Spicer works for a pharmaceutical company and also stages shows for children. Pierre, wearing a cat-sized tuxedo and bow tie, was her faithful sidekick.
   Careless cigarette smoking started the fire at 82-84 York St., according to police. The four apartment units at the dwelling housed 14 people, all of whom have been displaced.
   Ms. Spicer paid Galen Skillman, a 47-year-old man who lived in a first-floor apartment, to care for Pierre while she was away. At the time, it seemed like a wise financial decision. She couldn’t afford to pay the high cost of boarding her cat in a professional facility for the two weeks she planned to be gone.
   "He would have been better off at home here with food and water," she said.
   Ms. Spicer’s fiancé works on a cruise ship. She joined him for a holiday that included her Christmas birthday.
   Instead of a celebration she received the bad news.
   "Galen called and told me about the fire," Ms. Spicer said. "He doesn’t know if Pierre got out or not."
   Ms. Spicer became acquainted with Mr. Skillman while employed in one of her previous jobs. Later, Mr. Skillman led her to adopt Pierre when a friend of his, the woman who owned him, died.
   "The fire started in the front room," Ms. Spicer said. "Pierre slept in the back on Galen’s bed. He didn’t like Galen’s smoke."
   Pierre was accustomed to going for outdoor walks on a harness. He also used to wear a collar, but for some reason the cat sitter removed it. Ms. Spicer said she did not know why the man removed the collar.
   "All I want is closure," she said, her voice breaking with tears. "If he’s in pet heaven, then God bless him. All I want is just to know."
   Anyone with information about Pierre can contact Ms. Spicer at her home, (908) 730-8215, or her cell phone, (908) 343-6361.