Katherine John, 53, from Llangyfelach, Swansea, was elated when she received a call from Lakeside Veterinary Surgery at Enterprise Park in Llansamlet telling her that her beloved tabby-and-white cat had been taken in for care.
Rosie was originally adopted from Cats Protection’s Bridgend Adoption Centre but had gone missing 11 years earlier when she was let outside as usual but didn’t come home for her dinner in the evening.
Rosie was two-years-old when she disappeared and made her home in an electronics factory on Penllergaer Business Park, just 2.4 miles from where the John family lived. Despite Katherine putting posters up around the local area, nobody came forward with Rosie until the moggie became unwell and workers from the factory took her to the vet.
Katherine explains: “We discovered that Rosie had been living really close to our home for all this time. She had been very well cared for and I must thank everyone at the factory and wider park for taking care of her, I just wish they’d known to check for a microchip sooner.”
Staff at the veterinary surgery checked Rosie’s microchip and discovered she had been registered to the family’s previous address in Llangyfelach, not far from where they live now, but the attached phone number did not work. Katherine and her family had only left the address in July 2021 but did not imagine Rosie would still be alive and so did not update the details on her chip. Luckily the vet team persevered and visited the outdated address where a neighbour provided Katherine’s number.
“I was an emotional mess when they rang me” says Katherine, “I felt as though you only ever hear stories like this in the news and yet our beautiful girl had been found. She had some initial treatment and a thorough check-up with blood tests and although she was very quiet we thought she just needed time to settle.”
Sadly, once Rosie was back in the family home it became clear that she was more poorly than she seemed at first and was struggling to walk.
Katherine adds: “I nursed her all over the weekend after chatting to the vet about how to keep her as comfortable as possible until the Monday morning. We then made the extremely sad decision to put her to sleep as the tests revealed kidney and heart failure. We are devastated as a family but the vets were amazing and took some paw prints for us to keep and little bottles with some cuts of her fur. If only Rosie had been scanned for a microchip earlier we could have had a few more years with her.”
Madison Rogers, Cats Protection’s Acting Head of Advocacy and Government Relations, says: “We are delighted that the Government have committed to introducing compulsory microchipping for cats but having a chip is only part of the story. It can be hard to know if a cat is a stray and the best thing is to contact a local vet or rehoming charity for the cat to be scanned for ownership details. A microchip is the only safe, permanent way of ensuring a cat can be easily identified.
“It is also vitally important that people keep their details on the chip up to date. Rosie’s very sad story shows that even years later when all hope of finding a lost cat has faded, a reunion can happen. Luckily Katherine had taken care to ensure her details were on the chip and thankfully she could be traced but many cats are not so lucky and they may have a chip but no details at all. It’s very easy to ensure your cat’s chip is current and any vet can help with the updating process or you can call the microchip company directly. We’d encourage everyone to double-check their cat’s details today.”
The charity offers a dedicated support service for anyone grieving the loss of a pet cat. Paws to Listen is a free and confidential phone line and anyone wishing to talk to a trained volunteer listener should call 0800 024 94 94. The line is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays and a call-back service is available if lines are busy. Email support is also available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details about Cats Protection’s Bridgend Adoption Centre are available online or by calling 01656 724 396.
Photo courtesy of Katherine John