Fliers with Gabriel's photo were posted of the missing gray-striped feline to alert distant neighbors, local veterinarians and the Humane Society. But eventually, even optimistic Liz had to return to work.
"My love for Gabriel was so strong that I couldn't believe my little fellow would have left me," she said about her precious cat. "But as weeks went by, I also realized we may never be reunited."
No one heard from Gabriel from late June until early August. No phone calls, no sightings, no tips on where he might be. In the heavily forested area by the lake with an abundance of predators, the chances that a cat could survive -- even a good hunter -- were slim.
What Liz needed was a message of hope. It came six weeks after Gabriel first disappeared.
A woman who wanted to keep a stray cat had taken the extra measure to check for a microchip in his neck. A query to the Fisher family came from an Oregon veterinarian who had followed up on the microchip information.
"My husband didn't want me to get my hopes up," Liz said as she reflected on how long Gabriel had been missing. "But I was sure it was my cat."
Once it was confirmed, there was celebration and Gabriel was brought home. And that's when Liz learned some of the backstory from the gracious woman who had found him -- and loved him too.
Janene Kibitt, who lives three miles from the Fishers' lake home, had spotted Gabriel in her front yard on the very day she was grieving over the loss of two cats in one week -- one that had died that day.
"Silly, maybe," Janene said in a Facebook post, "but it was helpful for me in my grief to imagine that this stray cat was possibly sent by Sally and Lucky (the cats) as a sign or simply to bring some joy during an unhappy time."
It was another cat-delivery message of comfort at a time of great sadness.