I have written several posts on the incredible stories of lost cats who, against all odds, have been reunited with their owners. The first post (“A Heartwarming Story thanks to Facebook,” October 9, 2014) tells the story of Ciro, a black and white kitty who lived in Monza, a city 15 kilometers north of Milan. Around 2010, Ciro jumped off or fell from the balcony of his house. Chiara, the owner, searched and searched for him, papering the neighborhood with his photo. A year later, a cat lady rescued a feline that was on the edge of a wild cat colony. The cat was visibly in pain and in bad shape. The cat would not have survived on its own, so she took him to the shelter where they named him Connor. Eleven months later, Connor still had not been adopted. So the shelter volunteers posted Connor’s pictures on Facebook and Chiara saw them. When she arrived at the shelter, she called out “Ciro!” The cat “lit up” and went to her immediately. It was an incredible and emotional moment … for everyone there.
Then I wrote about Ogghy (“An Exceptional Cat,” February 9, 2017), a tiger-striped cat who lived in Scandicci southeast of Florence. When owner Bella went to visit her cousin in Maremma, which is near the sea in Tuscany, she took Ogghy with her. But Ogghy didn’t like being away from home and managed to remove the screen from a window and escape. Bella searched everywhere, put up posters, published posts on social media, and called the area shelters. One year and five months later, Bella opened the door of her house in Scandicci and couldn’t believe her eyes. There sat Ogghy. He was almost unrecognizable; he was all skin and bones. No one will ever know how Ogghy had traversed 140 kilometers in that time period. He traveled throughout Tuscany, from south to north, through fields, cites, and congested streets. But when he got home, he went to his bowl of food and then to lie down on his favorite ottoman.
Now two new incredible stories have come to light—the first from Faenza, a city southeast of Bologna. Monica owned Mandarino, an orange tabby, since he was a kitten in 2000. He was a feisty explorer and one day in 2012 he escaped Monica’s garden and couldn’t be found despite all the usual inquiries and postings. Eight years and two months later, an elderly cat was found on a street across town from Monica’s home and taken to the local animal protection agency. He was dehydrated, thin and blind. Through photos on Facebook, Monica knew the cat was her Mandarino. The moment of recognition at the shelter was very emotional: “As soon as he heard my voice, he went crazy and started looking for me,” says Monica. But there was other evidence: Mandarino had been in an accident before his disappearance and had lost an eye and suffered fractures in his nose and palate, which were evident to the veterinarians. But it was also a particular behavior of Mandarino’s that Monica noted: When you pick up Mandarino he likes to put his paws around your neck and tap your chin with his head. Now at 21 years, Mandarino is home, spoiled and pampered.
Patches belonged to Josie, a woman who died in the tragic debris flow of January 2018 following the fire that destroyed the vegetation in the hills above Montecito, California. Josie’s house was destroyed and everyone believed that Patches had perished along with her “Mom.” But after three years she returned near to where her home used to stand. She was taken to an animal shelter and the volunteers saw that she had been microchipped. When they discovered that Josie was the deceased owner, they had a connection with the family and contacted Josie’s partner, Norm. It was overwhelming for him when he came to claim Patches at the shelter. Patches was in great condition and the mystery remains about where Patches has been during the last three years.
These reunions are rare, particularly after the passage of so much time, but they are aided by the great work of animal protection agencies and services, by social media, by microchipping, and by the incredible sense of home and trust that cats have. In a post entitled “The Pet Detectives” (December 17, 2017), I wrote about a company in the United States and Italy developed to find missing pets. The teams at Pet Detectives use the same techniques that the police use to solve missing-person investigations. On the sophisticated end, they include deductive reasoning, behavioral profiling, search probability theory, gathering of forensic evidence, humane traps, and use of high-tech equipment. First and foremost, however, the team makes a profile of the missing animal…in keeping with every animal owner’s conviction that “my baby has unique characteristics.”