Cat owner given 'best Christmas present' after being reunited with missing Maine Coon five years after disappearance
- Credit: Cats Protection North Herts
A much-loved, daring and adventurous Maine Coon found on the streets of Stevenage has been reunited with his owner all the way in north London, five years after he disappeared.
However, where Zeke has been during those five years, and how he travelled the 30 miles from Haringey to Herts, remains a mystery.
Zeke was two-and-a-half years old when he vanished in 2016, and was a well-known character in his neighbourhood.
Explaining the circumstances around his disappearance, Zeke's relieved owner David Blane said: “We got two new cats, both of whom were quite territorial. Although we didn’t realise the full effect on Zeke at the time, it’s clear now that he was being bullied by them."
Zeke was spending more time outside, and David found himself picking him up from people's houses before he disappeared.
Fearing distinctive Zeke had been stolen, David did all he could to find his beloved feline friend, posting on social media and even registering Zeke as missing on PetLog.
The story could have had quite a sad ending, but Zeke was scooped up by Cats Protection in North Herts after being assumed a stray.
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Branch co-ordinator Bianca Kubler said: “He was dishevelled and his coat was quite dirty when he arrived, but he was a healthy 9kg boy with an insatiable hunger and, despite needing five teeth removed and a good bath, he was in good health.”
Cats Protection arranged for the necessary dental work and updated Zeke’s vaccinations while being cared for by volunteer fosterer Shelagh, but he was still subdued and reluctant to engage.
Bianca said: “I felt so sad for Zeke as he seemed depressed. He was eating okay and toileting fine, but wouldn't play and didn't want to interact much. We really needed to find his owner if we were to put the spark back into Zeke’s spirit.”
When Zeke was taken in, he was scanned for a microchip, but vets had no luck in contacting his rightful owner.
Spurred on to find his true home, Bianca said: “We were starting to lose hope by the end of a long weekend of constant searching, but my partner decided to ring the number on the microchip one last time. To our total surprise, a man answered.
“We asked if he had lost a cat and, clearly bemused, he said that his cat had gone missing five years ago. He was in a total state of shock when we said that we’d found his cat, Zeke.”
David, who had resigned himself to the fact that he would never get Zeke back, said: “It was utterly fantastic to see him again. Words can’t describe that feeling."
Bianca added: “It was amazing to see Zeke when David came to collect him. He stopped and looked at him for some minutes and then it seemed like a light had come on.
"He recognised Dave and Zeke’s body language changed. It was heart-warming to see."
Grateful for Cats Protection's perseverance, David insisted on covering Zeke's medical costs and donated to the charity.
“We’ll always wonder how Zeke got from North London to Stevenage and where he spent those five years," she said. "But what counts is he’s home, thanks to a microchip and some determination.”
Understandably, Zeke took a little time to adapt back to his old surroundings, where he is now the only cat.
“The first days he was a little unsettled so I kept him in the bedroom where I work so he had company," David said. "Now I am encouraging him to take little walks around the house and he is slowly expanding his boundaries.
“He follows me around and it seems he definitely remembers me. It’s amazing to have my baby boy back. He's more affectionate than I remember, which is good. Previously he could be a bit aloof but now he comes for cuddles and plays a lot more.
"He’s found a fair few comfy spots to make his own and it seems that he's very glad to be home after so long."
He added: "I'd like to thank John and all the volunteers at Cats Protection’s North Herts branch. They do fantastic work and really have made a massive difference to my life by reuniting me with my baby - now giant - boy.
"It’s the best Christmas present I could ever imagine.”
To support Cats Protection's North Hertfordshire Branch, visit: cats.org.uk/northherts/support-us.