My boyfriend, Justin, has owned the same cat for nearly half his life.

Pooh Kitty — his name is a reference to Winnie the Pooh because of his yellowish-orange coat — is at least 14 years old.

Knowing his age, we’re well aware of Pooh’s mortality. When the time does come, we hope we get to spend his last few moments together.

That’s why we lost our cool when he went missing last week.

I stopped by the house that day to drop off some groceries before heading to an appointment. My dog, Beauty, greeted me at the door. As I unpacked the car, I wondered why I hadn’t seen that familiar orange ball of fur rubbing my ankles or lingering by the door.

I quickly searched his usual hiding spots. He wasn’t perched in the windowsill. Nor was he snuggled under my duvet or cuddled up in a corner of my closet.

Pooh was nowhere to be found.

“I can’t find Pooh,” I texted Justin. He must have snuck out the door when we left for work that morning or when I let the dog out late at night.

My thoughts turned to the animal shelter, so I dialed Jay County Humane Society’s number. Dawn Keller cheerfully answered. When I described our Pooh Kitty, I could practically hear Dawn frowning from across the line.

“Oh no,” she responded.

My stomach sunk. Was he dead?

Dawn explained he was found — alive — that morning on a porch, his fur wet and his body temperature dangerously low. She rushed him to Coldwater Animal Clinic, where they wrapped him in blankets, placed him on a heating pad and hooked him up to an IV.

Even if he was alive, his condition didn’t sound promising. I told her we would head there as soon as possible.

Justin called to let me know he’d be home in less than five minutes. As soon as his car rolled up to the house, I hopped inside and we left for Ohio.

At first glance, Justin seemed calm. He reminded me Pooh was originally a stray and had escaped several times throughout his life as a house cat.

When they were living in the country, he recalled, Pooh disappeared for six months. As soon as Justin came to terms with the fact his cat was probably dead, Pooh showed up on their doorstep again.

But he was about 10 years younger then.

Pooh is an old cat. Justin doesn’t expect him to live forever.

As we drove, his eyes remained focused on the road, and the speedometer steadily increased speed.

It’s OK to be scared, I reminded him. My hand slipped into his.

We sat in silence for a few moments. But as we rounded a curve, the car suddenly started wiggling out of control.

“Oh no,” Justin said in a small, strained voice.

Our tires had lost traction on a patch of ice.

My eyes remained glued on the road as we drove through the other lane and plowed into several inches of snow in a cornfield. After a few seconds, the car slowed to a halt, roughly 30 feet away from the road.

Justin grabbed his head and chided himself for not slowing down.

“Are you OK?” He looked over at me, and I nodded.

We both inspected the car — there was no damage besides the tire needing rebalanced — and hugged out of relief. We were lucky there wasn’t any oncoming traffic when we lost control.

A few good samaritans pulled over and helped push us back onto the road. Within 15 minutes, we arrived at the animal clinic and greeted Pooh. He woke up and started purring.

Pooh had used another of his many lives, it seemed. A quick examination the next day would deem him healthy once again.

We were thankful it wasn’t Pooh’s time yet, but we also learned something that day. As we drove to the clinic following our slide off the road, my mind jumped to a different scenario.

If someday we have a child in critical condition at a hospital, I told Justin, we should make a point not to get into an accident on our way to see them.

He agreed.