It’s always heartbreaking when a pet goes missing, but it’s important to not lose hope entirely. Sometimes lost pets are found months or even years after they disappeared.
That was the story of one cat, who was finally found after being missing for 7 years — and went on a 2,000-mile journey to finally reunite with her family.
Last month, an 8-month-old domestic short-hair cat named Ebi arrived at the county shelter in Jurupa Valley, California after being picked up as a stray, according to a release by Riverside County Animal Services.
Thankfully, the stray kitty had a microchip, indicating that she was someone’s lost pet. Vets scanned the microchip so she could be reunited with her family.
They contacted the identified owner, Joe Drnec. But everyone was stunned to discovered this cat’s story.
It turned out she had gone missing seven years ago! Ebi’s long-lost family was stunned to hear their cat was found after so many years apart.
“We never thought we would ever see her again,” Joe Drnec said. The family adopted Ebi as a kitten when she was just three months old from the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center in Riverside, California.
Ebi went missing in 2015, running off after being let outside: “She just went crazy at the door, always wanting to go outside,” Joe recalled. “We allowed it, but my wife always supervised her. She eventually was an indoor-outdoor cat. But one day she did not come back.”
After a while with no word of their cat, the family assumed she was gone for good.
“We really hoped and prayed that she found a good home and that’s kind of what we thought in the back of our minds, she must have found a good home,” Joe told WATE. “I think that’s what people do just to kind of cope with it.”
While they were thrilled to hear their cat was found, there was one problem: in the years since Ebi went missing, the family relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee. The cat was now 2,000 miles away.
But even with that great distance, the shelter was determined to reunite this family.
John Welsh, the chief of Riverside County Animal Services, personally transported Ebi from California to Tennessee. He says he paid for the trip out-of-pocket because they can’t use taxpayer dollars for personal pets, but he was happy to do it.
“We like getting animals back to their rightful owners even if they tend to be half the country away or more than half the country away so it’s just fun,” he told WATE.
“My wife and I, we don’t have children,” he explained. “We just lost our cat recently and that was really hard for us. I know how much cats mean to people so very much, money very well spent.”
According to Animal Services, Welsh flew with Ebi from California’s Ontario International Airport to Nashville, Tennessee, then traveled by car to Knoxville.
Their cross-country journey came to an end as Ebi was finally reunited with her long-lost family at a bike store in Bearden, Tennessee.
Welsh told WATE that less than 2 percent of impounded cats are reunited with their owners, so being able to make a rare moment like this possible was well worth all the effort.
We’re so glad Ebi is finally home after all these years! We know this happily reunited family will be making up for lost time.
It’s also a reminder to get your pets microchipped — that’s what makes miracles like this possible even after years (and thousands of miles) apart!
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