Woman and missing cat have precious reunion after 536 days apart

It’s always heartbreaking to lose a pet. Sometimes they just vanish without a trace, and no matter how long and hard you search for them, at some point you have to accept that they’re gone for good.

But sometimes miracles happen, and our pets return to us in the most unexpected ways when we’re least expecting them. That was the case for one woman, who wasted no time reuniting with her beloved cat after over a year apart.

Mindy Criner first adopted her cat from a Virginia animal shelter. She recalled that the kitten was more shy than the others in the litter, but she knew he just needed a family to build his confidence.

“You could see in his eyes he just needed love,” Mindy told The Dodo

She named the cat “Cat,” and soon Cat overcame his initial shyness and became a beloved part of the family.

That is, until he suddenly vanished. Cat would often wander off by himself, but one night he didn’t come back.

Mindy and her family searched everywhere, but had no luck. As weeks and months went by, they began to lose hope.

“We posted everywhere, made flyers, put his stuff outside so he could smell his way home, the whole nine yards but we never found him,” Mindy wrote.

She had to accept that Cat wasn’t coming back: “Weeks turned to a year, then a little more and every day that crack in my broken heart got a little bigger,” she told The Dodo.

Over a year passed with no word about the cat. But last month—536 days after Cat went missing—Mindy got a call that made her jaw drop:

Someone had found Cat.

“I thought it had to be a mistake,” Mindy said. “The voicemail from animal control said to get in touch with Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter to find him.”

But it was no mistake: someone really did have her cat. A man had been taking care of Cat, thinking he was a stray. He had thought Cat was a female, while he was really a neutered male.

This went on for over a year until Cat was struck by a car. She survived with only minor injuries, and the man took her to the vet to get checked out.

Then the vet did something that never occurred to the man: they checked for a microchip to see if the cat had any identification.

Even after all that time, the microchip revealed that Mindy was Cat’s true owner, along with her contact information.

“I drove to that shelter as fast as the law allowed and walked through the door already fighting back tears,” she told The Dodo.

She arrived at the shelter for a long-overdue reunion. Despite all that time apart, Cat immediately ran to Mindy without hesitation. “I sat on the steps and let him come over to me in case he was scared, and he got right in my lap and purred,” Mindy said.

Even more amazingly, Cat wasn’t even far from home after all: “He was only 1.8 miles from home, 2 blocks from the park we visit 3-4x weekly,” Mindy wrote on Facebook. “That first head boop towards home shook my soul.” 

“Needless to say he’s safe, out of the cold, and is getting fed up with the excessive snuggles.”

It’s a heartwarming story, but one with an important message: get your pets microchipped with your information—it’s a safe, affordable and common procedure that can be the only thing that reunites you with your pet if they ever run off.

On top of that, it’s important to always check for a microchip on any found pet: “MICROCHIP YOUR PETS AND DON’T ASSUME A PET YOU’VE FOUND WAS ABANDONED!” Mindy wrote.

But most of all, don’t lose hope if you lose a pet—they might always turn up someday, when you least expect them to.

“Best of luck to anyone searching for their pet, DON’T GIVE UP!” Mindy wrote. “They’re likely thinking of you as often as you think of them.”

It’s a heartwarming reunion story and an important reminder about microchipping. Share this story to spread the word!