The cat was a timid dog when Mindy Criner and her husband Luke acquired him from the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter in Virginia. Criner had a sense he only needed a family to help bring out his confidence, so he sat off to the side while the other kittens played.
Criner told The Dodo, “You could tell in his eyes that he just needed affection.”
It took some effort, but Cat was soon comfortable in his new home and charmed with every member of his new family. When his parents had a child, he adored him right once, and there was never any doubt in his mind that the couple had made the correct decision in adopting that shy little cat.
Cat grew in confidence after joining his family, and he enjoyed wandering about his yard and doing some exploring. Criner tried to call Cat inside after another round of exploring one day, but he wasn’t there.
Criner was so distraught that she immediately contacted the woman who manages the Lost & Found Pets – Hampton Roads, VA, Facebook page to ask for her assistance in spreading the news, and she and her husband did all they could to find Cat and return her home.
They placed a litter box and food outdoors in the hopes of luring him home with familiar scents.
They put up little housing stations across the area and had friends check them whenever they got the opportunity.
They erected a slew of posters. They wandered around the area every night, shouting his name, but they ultimately gave up hope.
“Weeks passed into a year, then a bit more, and every day that break in my wounded heart grew a little wider,” Criner explained.
Criner received the call she never expected 536 days after Cat went missing. Someone had tracked him down.
Criner stated, “I felt that had to be a mistake.” “A message from animal control instructed me to contact Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter to locate him. I drove as quickly as the law permitted to the shelter and stepped through the door fighting back tears.”
When Criner arrived at the shelter, she learned that a man had been feeding Cat, whom he mistook for a stray, for over a year. The man phoned animal control after Cat was hit by a car and survived. Animal control searched for a microchip and found who Cat actually was.
Criner promptly contacted the man who had discovered Cat and drove over to his residence. When she came, Cat was sitting on the porch eating a snack, and it was as if no time had gone at all when they saw each other.
Criner explained, “I sat on the stairs and let him come up to me in case he was afraid, and he went right in my lap and purred.” “I started heading towards the car where my husband, Luke (who has an extremely unique voice), was chatting to the person who had been feeding him, and Cat purred louder than I could have imagined and given me that first super long head boop. It’s as if he pushed that small piece of my shattered heart back into place.”
Cat knew he was finally returning home as soon as he spotted his family, and he couldn’t have been happier.
When they returned home, Cat quickly fit in, welcoming his furry siblings and claiming all of his old haunts as if he’d never left. He and his parents have been snuggling and reacquainting themselves as much as possible, and the entire family is overjoyed to have Cat-back where he belongs.
“I hope that our story will give hope to others who are missing their pets and that those who have unknowingly taken in someone else’s pet will check to see if they’re scanned so that pet can have their happy reunion with their family, and someone else can feel the overwhelming joy we’re feeling,” Criner said.