When Moonlight the cat went missing nearly nine years ago, his distraught owners tried desperately to find him, before giving him up for dead six months later when a cat fitting his description was found dead in the road.
Now, years later, Moonlight is back with his family again after a local animal lover who fed him occasionally took him to the vet recently after noticing he seemed to be losing his fur. Moonlight’s microchip led him back home when he was given a routine chip scan at the vet’s.
Petmom Rosie Collier, who lives with her husband John, and 17-year-old daughter Melba in Chediston, Suffolk, UK says her beloved cat is now back at home with her family and their other pets after being picked up just two miles away by the woman who took him for a vet check.
Many pets who go missing do so when their routine is disrupted in one of several ways. Moonlight disappeared in the summer of 2006 while he was left with Rosie’s parents, in Wenhaston, while she was on holiday.
Rosie’s parents searched frantically, then, once she returned home, Rosie and her family spent months looking for Moonlight, only giving up when a cat matching his description was found dead in the road.
The family was devastated at the loss and planted a special memorial tree for Moonlight in their back garden.
While his activities over the past nearly-nine years are not conclusively known, it is thought that he was living rough on a nearby heath, hunting and killing his own food.
The woman who occasionally fed Moonlight, when he turned up at her door, says she believed he was a neighbor’s cat but made the decision to take him to the vet when she noticed he’d lost some of his fur.
Rosie got the completely unexpected and unimaginable good news that Moonlight was alive and ready to come home earlier this week when she was contacted by Eagle Veterinary Group, in Halesworth, on Monday. She said she was so overcome with joy that she could barely talk.
“I was just so surprised, I really did not expect to get him back,” she said,
“I was in shock at first but then I had a grin from ear to ear for the rest of the day.”
Melba, who was 8 years old when Moonlight disappeared, was particularly distraught over the loss when he went missing.
“There were buckets of tears [from Melba],” Rosie said.
“She was very distressed, even her dance teacher can still remember how upset she was – it was that traumatic.”
Veterinarian Jenny Reason did the chip scan at Eagle Veterinary Group.
“When a missing pet turns up, it’s usually a matter of days, sometimes a little longer, but I’ve never known a pet to return after eight-and-a-half years,” she said.
“It just shows why it’s so important to chip your pet.”
Rosie waited until Melba returned from college Monday night to share the remarkable good news.
“I was just really shocked,” said Melba. “Eight years is a really long time and so I was not expecting it at all.”
Moonlight has been re-introduced to Echo, the family’s golden retriever, and their two new pets; Tilly, a black labrador and Dusty, a cat. The family says Moonlight is happier than ever now that his rough life is in the past and he is back enjoying the comforts and companionship of home.
“I was not sure he would remember us but he came home and he has been purring and rubbing himself up against us,” Rosie said.
“He obviously knows who we are – even the dog.”
“We always knew he was a good hunter, so if he was alive he would probably be OK looking after himself,” Rosie said, speculating on how her cat might have survived on his own.
“We think he was probably living wild on the heath, killing rabbits and mice, but also taking advantage of people who would feed him.”
“We are just so happy to have him back, it almost seems like a miracle.”