Ear tattoo helps re-unite cat missing for 12 years with owner

WATCH: Lorie Chortyk with the Vancouver SPCA tells Global News how Maxine’s owner was found

A cat who went missing for 12 years has been tracked back to its owner thanks to an old ear tattoo.

Maxine was found last Saturday, not far from the Vancouver SPCA shelter.

A tattoo in her ear revealed she’s been missing for 12 years.

Lorie Chortyk with Vancouver SPCA says the tattoo was faded, and it took them a few days to figure out Maxine’s story.

The tattoo marks led them to a veterinary clinic that had her listed as deceased, because she has been missing for so long.

“Through a lot of detective work, we were able to find her owner in Florida,” says Chortyk. “She was absolutely thrilled to find out that her cat was alive.”

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The owner has been contacted, and now they are trying to figure out if Maxine is healthy enough to be flown to Florida.

She is 16 years old, and was found emaciated, dehydrated and suffering from a heart condition.

Chortyk says Maxine must have fended for herself for the majority of the 12 years she’s been missing, looking for any food and water she can find.

“I suspect she’s been wandering on her own a lot because she is just not in a very good condition,” says Chortyk. “It is clear she has needed veterinary care and has not had it. The life of a cat on the street is tragic, and we see it too often.”

She says pet identification can go a long way in helping re-unite owners with their lost pets.

“Maxine’s case really points to the importance of pet identification, particularly for cats. With dogs that come in to our shelter, we are almost always able to immediately return those animals to their owners, because they do have either a micro chip or a tattoo. Unfortunately, people just do not seem to put permanent ID on their cats.”

Chortyk says there are only about eight per cent of cats that are reunited with their owners when they go missing, and they want to see that number go up.

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“In B.C., we have tens of thousands of homeless cats because people do not put proper identification on them.”

Chortyk says even if Maxine is too sick to be flown to Florida, her owner is making arrangements for a permanent home with either friends of family here in B.C.

“Either way, Maxine is going to have a wonderful, happy ending out of this,” she says.