Like the cat from the children’s song The Cat Came Back, a little feline named Blue came home Monday night after going missing near Goldstream Park on Dec. 28, 2018.
At the time, Blue’s family reported him missing to Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing, more commonly called ROAM, a South Island non-profit that uses Facebook and volunteers to reunite missing pets with their owners.
Volunteers had no leads for so long and Blue’s family was “just devastated,” said Barb Mah, a volunteer trapper with ROAM.
The family told her their young daughter wrote about missing Blue in her journal every day.
After 18 months, ROAM volunteers got a lead on the missing cat in early July when staff at the Point Ellice House Museum in Victoria reached out about a cat who’d been seen wandering around the property for about six months.
The museum’s executive director sent a photo of the little, matted cat and all the volunteers recognized his face, Mah said. Within minutes a volunteer had matched the photo of the roaming cat with Blue’s missing pet post on the ROAM- Cats Facebook page.
An update about the lost cat at PEH: Thanks to https://t.co/XipPxssoKQ we found Blue's family! He went missing Dec 2018 and had been surviving at PEH since then. ROAM set a trap for Blue and reunited him with his family this weekend. This little cat has some stories to tell! pic.twitter.com/GwL03QSuAl
— Point Ellice House (@ElliceHouse) July 5, 2020
Mah then texted the photos to Blue’s owner who quickly replied “that’s him.”
The next step was to set some traps and motion-sensor cameras and put out wet cat food as bait on the museum property. Just over four hours later Mah got a notification of motion detected near the traps – it was Blue, 17 kilometres from home.
After making “double sure” it was him by matching the distinct black markings on his face and lip to photos, Mah told his family to come and pick him up.
The four-year-old cat was a little skittish when he first got home but immediately remembered his mom when she came in, Mah said.
The family later shared a video of their daughter’s reaction to seeing Blue again and ROAM staff shared it on Facebook. After some initial trepidation, the little girl was ready to snuggle her long lost cat.
Mah noted that the family was about to adopt a new kitten just a few days before Blue was found but the plan fell through at the last minute.
“The stars aligned” because a new kitten would have made his homecoming quite different, she said.
Blue had lost weight during his outdoor adventure and he was just over five pounds – the weight of a seven-month-old kitten – when he was found. His long fur is also so matted that Mah is fairly certain he’ll need to be sedated for a vet to clean him up.
“This was a heartwarming story,” she said, adding that the ROAM team was so happy to reunite Blue and his family.
Cats frequently go missing for a few weeks at a time and often return on their own, she explained. The stories about cats going missing for long periods before returning home are less common but “they do happen.”
In cases like Blue’s where the cat is found far from home, it’s “almost always that they hitched a ride” somehow, Mah said.