Long-lost Winnipeg cat comes back 9 years later

Winnipegger Michelle Bombay and her long-lost cat, Eva. Eva was returned to Bombay last month after running away from home nearly nine years ago. Submitted/Michelle Bombay

Michelle Bombay did a double take when the Winnipeg Humane Society called last month asking if she was the owner of a missing cat.

She had been — nearly nine years ago.

Bombay couldn’t believe it, but the caller told her Eva — indeed her cat, missing since 2013 — had been found and was waiting to be picked up.

“I got off the phone and then I told my nieces and nephews that our cat Eva has been found and they were all excited,” Bombay said of the unexpected call.

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“I was so surprised … I was just, like, really shocked.”

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Still in disbelief, Bombay dropped what she was doing and, along with her niece, rushed to the humane society to get Eva before they closed.

Sure enough, there was Eva looking a bit older but healthy, and, Bombay says, a whole lot larger.

“We didn’t realize how much weight she had gained,” she laughs.

“My niece, she was happy too, and she was like ‘oh my did she ever gain weight.'”

On the left, Eva before she went missing in 2013. On the right, Eva now that she’s back home. Submitted/Michelle Bombay

Bombay says her then-much-thinner kitten “just kind of took off” from her home in north Winnipeg in November 2013.

“We kept calling her when she went missing, and we walked around the neighborhood and nothing,” she remembers

“So then that’s why I just made the post about her. And then I just forgot about that I had a post up for her.”

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Audrey Barnabe, manager of intake and animal care at the Winnipeg Humane Society, says a tattoo in Eva’s ear helped them track down her owner.

She says after IDing Eva with the tattoo, humane society staff were able to find Bombay through Facebook, where she still had a post up about Eva on Winnipeg Lost Cat Assistance, a page dedicated to reuniting lost cats with their owners.

“We do quite a bit of detective work, including searching Facebook, so social media has come in really handy for us,” Barnabe says.

‘Never give up hope’

Barnabe says in 17 years working at the humane society, she’s never seen a missing cat returned after such a long time away.

“It just shows, never give up hope – keep looking for your animal — always submit a lost report with us and for dogs, also submit the last report with animal services,” Barnabe says.

Barnabe recommends all pet owners get their animals tattooed or microchipped.

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She says without the ID the humane society would not have been able to find Bombay, and would have likely ended up putting Eva up for adoption.

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Instead Eva was one of the roughly 400 missing pets Barnabe says the Winnipeg Humane Society reunites with their owners every year.

Not surprisingly, Barnabe says those reunifications are among the best part of her job.

“Cats, you know, don’t so much show it, but I’m sure they’re happy when they get home,” she says.

“But dogs are really excited and show that when they get picked up by their owner, it’s pretty exciting.”

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Eva is settling back in now that’s she’s home. Submitted/Michelle Bombay

Now back home for a month, Bombay says Eva is getting settled in and getting used to the three new cats she’s gotten in the time Eva was gone.

Although Bombay can’t say where Eva’s adventures took her, with her healthy size, she is fairly sure she was loved — and well fed — while she was gone.

“Someone just said that they brought her in, that’s all (the humane society) could tell me,” Bombay said.

“No idea at all who was looking after her, but they took good care of her.”

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