Cats are known for being extremely independent creatures. They like having their own space and companionship, and they’re quite self-sufficient. Would they even need us if they could open a can with a can opener?
Cats, on the other hand, like exploring, which might pose problems for their human parents. Especially when the relationship’s fur child refuses to return home when they’re supposed to, leaving their parents worried about their security.
When Mindy and Luke Criner’s beautiful ginger boy, Cat, went missing, that’s precisely what occurred. Cat had been gone for 536 days, and his parents had given up hope. It was at this point when Cat arrived.
To read their remarkable story, scroll down.
In 2015, Mindy and Luke adopted Cat from a shelter. He was hesitant and afraid to play with the other kittens at the shelter, they noted. They felt he was destined to be a member of their family straight immediately.
“You could tell in his eyes that all he wanted was love.” It took some effort because he was immediately connected to my husband, Luke, but one day we awoke to find him purring on my breast, and there was the beginning of my sidekick cat,” Mindy explained.
Cat, it turned out, was in desperate need of love, and he soon got the confidence to walk around his yard, enjoying the new area. Cat, however, did not return from one of his escapades.
All Cat needed was love, as it turned out, and he quickly developed the confidence to step outside into his garden to investigate. Cat, on the other hand, did not return from one of his outside expeditions one day.
“He went missing in early May; he would go out for a short time during the day if the weather was beautiful, then return home when summoned for lunch or dinner, and sound off with a loud meow to let you know he was on his home.
I put his new collar on him and let him out to play in the tree out front as normal, and he paused and looked at me, and I got this strange feeling I wouldn’t see him again, to the point that I phoned my husband and informed him about it.
We expected a regular day, but we weren’t that lucky. He didn’t show up for dinner and didn’t answer the phone when I called. Mindy stated, “By morning, I was in full panic mode.”
They also published posters across their city, and nothing seemed to work.
“I sent a post to Gina (an amazing gem of a woman who manages the Lost and Found Pets of Hampton Roads FB page entirely out of the goodness of her heart), who posted it right away and got others looking.
We used all of the suggested tips on the page, set up this litter box and food station so he could smell his way home, and set up small housing stations a few blocks and about a mile away with his pet house, food, and something that smelled like us (neighbors were wonderful and even checked in for us so we wouldn’t have to travel with the baby as much). Posters were placed at the local grocery store, veterinarian clinics, shelters, and around the region. There was no Cat to be found. I started to lose hope after a few months of nightly walks phoning and praying that animal control or the shelter would call.”
Every night, they scoured their area for Cat, but he was nowhere to be found.
“Because he was microchipped and wore a collar with the vet’s information and my name, I knew if someone found him or, in the worst-case scenario, if he was hit by a car, I’d get a call because he’d be scanned.
Weeks went into a year, then a little more, and the gaps in my wounded heart grew larger with each passing day.
Then, 536 days after he lost, I heard a voicemail from Animal Control and an email from the microchip operator telling me that he had been found!”
“I couldn’t believe what I was reading at first. Mindy remarked, “I thought it had to be a mistake.”
AC’s voicemail instructed me to contact Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter in order to locate him. I drove as fast as the law would allow and went through the door, tears streaming down my face.
They took me around every room, but there was no Cat. The nice woman at the desk immediately phoned AC and everyone else she could think of, only to hear that a guy had called AC after Cat had been hit by a car on Halloween night.
When AC arrived, the gentleman in his 60s explained that he had been feeding what he believed was a female cat for at least a YEAR when Cat was injured, and instead of bringing him to the veterinarian, he contacted AC to report the “stray” he’d been feeding for a year had been hit and needed to be removed.
When AC scanned him, my information immediately showed. The gentleman had no idea what microchips were. Until I could be contacted, he kept Cat at his place. Mindy stated, “I phoned immediately away and took him up that afternoon.”
“It felt very strange to see each other again. He was just 1.8 miles away, two blocks from the park where we take his small human three to four times a week. When he looked over at me while sitting on the porch eating out of his bowl, I called his name and gave him my characteristic cat kitty call.
As I approached, he meowed right back at me, took another mouthful of food from the bowl, and came right over to me. I sat on the stairs and waited for him to come to me in case he was afraid, and he jumped onto my lap and purred.
Cat knew we were going home and purred louder than I knew possible and gave me that first suuuuper long head boop as I started walking towards the car, where my husband (who has an incredibly unique voice), Luke, was talking to the guy who had been feeding him.
That little piece of my wounded heart was pushed back into place by that head boop. My husband captured the perfect moment he realized he was returning home with his family in the ideal photograph.”
“When we arrived home, he walked directly to “his” bathroom, which is where we keep the plants throughout the winter so it’s like a small jungle, and flopped down in his old spot. My heart was broken and then melted all at the same time.”
“His canine siblings came up to see him, and they all had their own welcome back head moments as well,” Mindy said.“I hope that our experience gives others who are missing their pets hope, and that people who have unwittingly taken in someone else’s pet would check to see if they are scanned so that pet may have their happy reunion with their family, and someone else can feel the tremendous delight we are,” she said.
This is how the public reacted.