Jimmy, a 13-year-old brown tabby cat, went missing on Sept. 13, 2014, about 2½ years ago.
It wasn’t unusual for Jimmy to spend time outside. He would often sit on the front porch with his owners, Susan Zelitsky and her husband, Bob, and liked to visit the neighbor across the street for treats. He joined them on walks with their dog, and even went to the bathroom outside. “He would go to the front door like a dog when he had to go to the bathroom, but he would always come back and meow at the door to come in,” Susan Zelitsky told NorthJersey.com.
On the night Jimmy went missing, Zelitsky said her husband let him go outside. She called for the beloved pet around midnight, but he never came back. There was still no sign of Jimmy the next day, so the family searched the neighborhood, hung missing cat posters and reached out to police departments and shelters. Zelitsky said there was no sign of him, adding, “We were devastated.”
Because he liked sneaking into parked cars through open windows, his family thinks he may have accidentally hitched a ride out of town.
Zelitsky said she never really gave up searching in the months that followed, and she would sometimes call out for Jimmy when she walked the dog. “Not only me, but my kids and husband, too,” she said. “If I saw a cat that looked the same, I would wonder.”
Then last week, the family found something amazing. On the West Milford Animal Shelter Society’s Lost Pet Facebook page, there was Jimmy.
“One of my Facebook friends had shared a post from WMASS with a picture, and I looked at it and thought how much he looked like Jimmy,” Zelitsky recounted.
Jimmy was found in the High Crest section of West Milford, New Jersey, about ten miles from his home and taken in after a blizzard. A post was placed on the Lost West Milford Pets Facebook page shortly after.
She went to the shelter first thing in the morning with her neighbor Dayna Devine, who had originally given her the cat. “When they opened the crate door, I said, ‘Jimmy is that you, bud?’ and he walked over and head-butted me and smooshed his nose into the dog’s toy,” she said. “I immediately started to sob. He started to rub up against us, and when I was rubbing his belly he nipped me, which he always did. He put his head in Dayna’s hands and he started to purr loudly.”
She then compared markings from photographs. “I was convinced it was my boy,” she said. “I called my husband and he came to the shelter. When he saw Bob, he did the same head-butt.”
The cat is home now and doing fine. Zelitsky says he is in pretty good shape, especially considering no one knew where he was for almost three years.
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