A cat from British Columbia is being reunited with his owner in Ontario after being missing for three years, thanks to a kind stranger and the BC SPCA Facebook page.
Ralph, a long-haired orange tabby, went missing in Kamloops in March 2018, when he escaped while in the care of a pet sitter.
His owner Crystal Maclean, who lived in Kamloops at the time, contacted the SPCA, put up posters and searched extensively for the feline, but to no avail.
At the time, Maclean feared Ralph had been the victim of a coyote attack. She later moved to Papua New Guinea before settling in Northern Ontario, believing her cat was gone for good.
That was before Kamloops resident Lynette Nyeste met Ralph when the tabby became a regular visitor to her yard.
“When I first saw him, he was in bad shape and his hair was matted,” she said in a BC SPCA media release. “I thought he was feral. He wouldn’t let me get near him.”
The BC SPCA said Nyeste began giving Ralph food and water, and he eventually got comfortable with her, letting her brush him and later curling up and purring on her front porch.
“I looked online at lost and found pet sites to see if anyone was looking for him,” Nyeste said. “I took a photo of Ralph and posted it on sites and no one responded, so I just kept doing what I could for him thinking he must be an outside cat.”
Late last month, Nyeste brought Ralph in to the Kamloops SPCA branch when she felt she could no longer care for him.
That’s when staff posted his photo on their Facebook page, SPCA according to animal care supervisor Sarah Gerow.
A friend of Maclean’s recognized Ralph and contacted her.
“I have experienced shock, disbelief, elation and sheer happiness that I will get to be reunited with my beloved Ralph,” Maclean said. “He is the best cat ever.”
Ralph will be driven to the Kelowna airport and flown to Toronto on Thursday, where Maclean will pick him up.
The heartwarming reunion is a reminder to pet owners to get permanent identification for their pets so they can be returned swiftly if lost, Gerow said.
“The best chance to be reunited with your pet is if he or she has at least two forms of identification (microchip, collar with tags, ear tattoo) and by keeping your contact information updated,” she said.
British Columbians can register their animals with the BC Pet Registry.