The news from Australia about a cat who came home after straying for 13 years is one of the nicest feel-good stories of this week. Tales of cats missing for long periods of time or turning up in strange places happen more often than you think, but when they are found and returned to their families, it’s always a good story.
1. CHARLES: EIGHT MONTHS LATER, 1300 MILES AWAY
In 2009, Robin Alex, of Albuquerque, New Mexico went to New Orleans to built a Habitat for Humanity house. When she returned, her cat Charles was gone. Eight months later, she received a call from Chicago Animal Care and Control. A cat had been picked up with a microchip identifying her as the owner! But there was also bad news- if she didn’t pick him up within six days, Charles would be euthanized. Alex didn’t have time to wonder about how her cat had ended up 1300 miles from home, because she had to get him back. And she couldn’t afford a round-trip ticket to Chicago.
The local news picked up the story, which then went national. Alex asked if anyone was planning a trip to Chicago and would be able to help her. Enter fellow Albuquerque resident Lucien Sims. Sims said he has a tabby cat who strongly resembles Charles, and was moved when his mother sent him an online story about Alex and her pet.
Sims volunteered to pick Charles up and bring him back to New Mexico, as he was traveling to a wedding in Chicago. American Airlines did not charge a travel fee for the cat, and another business donated a pet carrier. Alex is happy to have her cat back. Still, no one knows how Charles came to be 1300 miles away in Chicago.
2. ALFIE: NINE MONTHS AND ONE BURIAL LATER
Thought he was a goner, but the cat came back. That old song came true in the case of Alfie, an orange tom that belongs to Angelo Petrillo of Milnrow, Greater Manchester, England. Petrillo buried a cat he was sure was Alfie after a car hit the cat near his home in 2009. Then the Petrillo family moved to a new house. Nine months later, a friend from the old neighborhood called to tell Petrillo that a ginger cat was at their old house trying to get in! The confused Petrillos went to investigate at their old home a mile away, and there was Alfie. The cat had put on weight, so it was obvious that someone had been taking care of him, but there was no doubt it was Alfie, seemingly come back from the dead. The Petrillos still don't know whose cat they buried, or where Alfie has been all that time.
3. FUZZY: FOUR YEARS LATER, IN A PET STORE
Michelle Wright of Barrington, New Hampshire, was devastated when a neighbor told her a cat resembling hers was struck and killed by a car. Fuzzy had run away from a friend’s house not too long before that. Wright thought that was the last of Fuzzy. But in 2014, the Cocheco Valley Humane Society took a shelter cat down to the Pet Connections Pet Store, which just happened to be down the street from Wright’s home. Shortly afterward, Wright stopped in to buy pet supplies. The more she looked at the cat, the more she was convinced it was Fuzzy. Wright brought in pictures and described a unique mark on Fuzzy's paw. It was definitely her cat!
Wright still had to go through the procedure of adopting Fuzzy from the shelter and paid the $85 fee. That covered Fuzzy’s shots and included a microchip implantation, so Fuzzy will never be lost that long again. See a video report from WMUR.
Virginia Fryback of Fort Wayne, Indiana, thought she’d never see Charlie again after he went missing five years ago. Just a couple of months ago, a ten-year-old cat came into the care of Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, and his microchip led to the cat’s return to Fryback. Fryback was elated, and credits her veterinarian, who talked her into getting the cat microchipped all those years ago.
5. WILLOW: FIVE YEARS AND 1,800 MILES LATER
Chris and Jamie Squires of Broomfield, Colorado, looked for their missing cat Willow in late 2006 or early 2007 when a contractor let her out of the house by mistake. They put up posters, but sadly figured that Willow was a victim of a coyote or another wild animal. Then in September of 2011, they got a call from Animal Care & Control -in New York City! Willow had been picked up on 20th street and taken to a city shelter. They found the Squires by scanning the cat’s microchip. Even though the family had moved to Boulder, they updated their address with the microchip company just in case. The Today Showpaid for the family to fly to New Yorkand retrieve Willow. And how did Willow get so far from home? An anonymous source told Gawker that a New Yorker who went skiing in Colorado brought the cat home, and even sent a picture. It’s a likely scenario, but no one came forward to admit doing it.
Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson of Reykjavík, Iceland, loved his cat Örvar, but when he adopted a puppy in 2007, Örvar took off. Viðarsson checked in regularly with the local animal shelter (Kattholt) for quite some time. But after a couple of years, he came to the conclusion that his cat was either dead or had been adopted by someone else. He hoped it was someone nice. Then in February of 2014, Viðarsson received an email from Kattholt. Örvar, who had a microchip, had been found! It took a couple of weeks to find Viðarsson, as he had moved.
The reunion was particularly joyous. Birkir received notification from Kattholt, Reykjavík’s cat shelter. “At first I really couldn’t believe it. I did not know what to expect. So I prepared for the worst; maybe he had lost an eye or an ear. Maybe he would have to be humanely put out of his misery. When I arrived, I was told that Örvar was shy and kept to himself in the corner. But when I called out his name he came running, climbed on top of me and wrapped his body around me. It was as if we had never been apart. It was lovely. The ladies at Kattholt told me that they had never seen the cat behave that way. One of them was even moved to tears.”
7. DIXIE: NINE YEARS LATER
Photograph: RSPCA handout.
When her cat Dixie went missing in 1999, Gilly Delaney thought she must have been killed by a car. But in 2008, a stray cat was reported to the RSPCA in Birmingham, England. When vets checked the cat for a microchip, they found that it was Delaney’s cat. Dixie had been picked up less than half a mile from her old home! The Delaneys were overjoyed to be reunited with their cat nine years later.
"Dixie's personality, behavior and little mannerisms have not changed at all," said Gilly Delaney. "We don't think she has stopped purring since she came back through the door."
Pauline and Bill Lowe of Corringham, England, donated two couches to the St Luke's Hospice charity shop in Grays, Essex. One of the couches had to be disassembled to get it through the door, and reassembled after it was outside. The Lowe’s cat Crockett was soon noticed missing, but they couldn’t figure out where he might have gone. The sofas went to the shop, and one was bought four days later.
The couch was delivered, and new owners set it up in their home.
Crockett was discovered a day later by the sofa's new owners.
Shop manager Jenny Munro said: "[They] heard a soft miaow sound and, on further investigation of the sofa, saw two claws poking out of the material which moved away when touched.
"In order to release the cat they had to rip the material under the sofa as Crockett had lodged himself well into the back.”
When Shelby went missing from her home in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, in 2001, Paula Harper-Adams thought she’d seen the last of her. Thirteen years and four sons later, a stray black-and-white cat showed up at their home last week. Harper-Adams took the scrawny, matted, lice-ridden stray to a vet and then noticed its marking were similar to Shelby's. Could it be? She dug out some old photos of Shelby and compared them. She also had the veterinarian staff compare them, and they all came to the conclusion that it was indeed the same cat. Shelby, who is now 17 years old, gives no clue as to where she has been, but she found her way home.
More missing cat stories would have such happy endings if more people had a microchip embedded in each of their pets.