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Cat Missing for Almost a Year Escapes Being Put to Sleep

18 December 2014

UK - A cat has been reunited with his former owner after going missing for almost a year - and narrowly escaped euthanasia.

Buie disappeared from his home in Leeds last February. His owner reported him missing to the company that has registered his microchip number in the hope that someone would find and return him.

What she didn’t know was that he had already been taken in by a lady just 1.25 miles away who had most likely begun feeding him when he showed up at her house. Sadly, last week, she died of cancer and had requested before her death that all her three cats, including Buie, were put to sleep and buried alongside her.

"The lady's nephew got a quote for £600 from their local vet to put the cats to sleep in her home. He then sought a second quote from one of our local vets who clearly felt it was a shame and asked that the cats were handed over to Yorkshire Cat Rescue instead. Thankfully he agreed," explains Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue.

"Although the cats were examined by the vet before arriving at our centre, none of them were scanned to see if they were microchipped - assuming that they all legally belonged to the lady who had died. Regardless of the circumstances, we scan every single cat that arrives at the centre and check the details as a matter of principle. When we scanned Buie, we saw that the details belonged to someone else."

Yorkshire Cat Rescue contacted the company which manages the microchip database who told them that Buie had indeed been reported missing since February.

Yorkshire Cat Rescue immediately called owner, Claire Rutherford who was over the moon at the news - calling it the best Christmas present ever.

"I was heartbroken when we lost Buie," recalls Claire who lives in Moortown. "I never expected to see him again and could not believe it when Yorkshire Cat Rescue called and told me that he was alive. The thought that he might have been put to sleep without us ever knowing that he was alive is unthinkable. We’re so lucky that the vet saw sense and called Yorkshire Cat Rescue."

Claire collected Buie as soon as the centre opened the next morning. After a quick trip to the vet to be treated for fleas plus a few bumps and bruises, he is now finally home and showering Claire with cuddles.

"He settled in straight away, acting like he had never left; showering me with cuddles and nuzzling his head into my hand. In fact, I don't think he has stopped purring since he got back! I can't thank Yorkshire Cat Rescue enough for reuniting us with Buie. He is such a wonderful and important part of our lives and I hope his story will give hope to others who have lost a cat that miracles do happen - especially at Christmas."

Sara is now keen to stress the importance of micro chipping. She says: "Although it took almost a year, Buie was only reunited with his true owner because he was chipped. Unfortunately people tend to assume that whoever takes responsibility for an animal is in fact its legal owner. In our experience, this is not always the case."

To anyone who finds a stray cat, Sara has the following advice: "Cats don’t recognise boundaries in the same way we do; they easily wander into someone else's garden so never assume it is a stray and let them move in. Take it straight to the vet or your local animal shelter and ask for it to be scanned. Had this happened to Buie he would have been returned home within a matter of days.

"I also want to urge all vets and veterinary nurses to scan any new animal that arrives at their clinic - even if they already know the owner. Don't just assume it belongs to them but ask nicely where they got it from. Even if they have bought it from what appears to be the cat's legitimate owner, it could still in fact be someone else's long lost pet. There might be a distraught owner just like Claire looking for them."

Nearly a year ago, Yorkshire Cat Rescue launched a campaign encouraging all pet owners to make arrangements for their pets if they became unable to care for them.

"Unfortunately, some people still believe that their cat will be unhappy living with anyone else and ask instead that they are put to sleep. But cats are very adaptable creatures and with the right consideration, they can go on to live happily with another family.

"It is always terribly sad to hear about healthy and sociable cats that have been put to sleep far too early in life. Thankfully a number of vets will do the right thing and get in touch with their local animal charity. We consider such cats a top priority and always move heaven and earth to find them a space either here at the centre or in foster care to save their lives.

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