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6th December 2023

A tabby-and-white cat named Toby who was believed to have been killed on a busy road in Nuneaton, has been reunited with his owners 11 years after going missing thanks to his microchip.

The 14-year-old moggy’s owners, Justine and Eric Allan, moved with their family and beloved cat from Galley Common to The Long Shoot in early December 2012. They kept Toby indoors for around six weeks after they first moved and then started letting him out in short bursts to grow accustomed to his new neighbourhood but sadly one day he did not return.

Justine explains: “Toby was my son Charlie’s cat, he was about 12 when Toby went missing, and he was heartbroken when we realised he probably wasn’t coming back. The Long Shoot is a notoriously busy road, we just assumed the worst had happened and thought he had been run over.”

Luckily, Wendy Harris, Coordinator for Cats Protection’s Coventry Branch had been contacted by a member of the public who had been feeding a cat in Bedworth on-and-off for around 18 months. The lady believed it was a female cat who had put weight on between visits and therefore might be pregnant. Having not seen the cat for a long period, when she spotted it around the bin stores at her flat she called the charity to arrange for them to visit and attempt to scan it for a microchip. 

Wendy says: “A lady rang us late on Saturday evening when the cat appeared and our volunteer Lorraine went out at 9pm to scan the cat and it turned out not only did it have a chip but that he was a neutered male named Toby, rather than female as originally believed. I checked the details on the chip database and called the registered owner, however there was no reply until the following morning when Charlie rang and said he did have a cat called Toby and he had been missing almost 12 years! 

“So, after a few phone calls back and forth Toby was collected and will no longer have to scavenge for food and sleep in a cold bin store. Thanks to the kind lady who asked for our help, to Lorraine for going out late at night to scan and most of all the power of the microchip.”

Toby settled back into life at home with ease even though there is now a canine family member in the house. 

Justine says: “I can’t believe he survived all this time, the odds were stacked against him, but here he is! We now have a year-old King Charles Cavalier named Bernie. Toby is a typical cat and couldn’t care less but Bernie is not adjusting quite so well. We’re keeping them apart so that we can do slow introductions, but when my husband took Bernie out for the first time after Toby was back I let Toby out of his room and he made himself at right home on Bernie’s bed and even tried a bit of his food.

“He doesn’t seem different at all, he’s obviously been cared for and fed by somebody, I just wish he could tell us what happened. I never thought in a million years I’d see him again. Think of all those things that have happened in that time.  I’m so grateful to the lady who took him in and to Cats Protection for coming out on Saturday night especially as he wasn’t easy to catch! We’ll keep him in now for six to eight weeks and then hope for the best he stays.”

Microchipping is a simple, effective way of reuniting cats with their owners should they be lost, injured or stolen. It involves a microchip the size of a grain of rice containing the cat’s owner’s contact details being implanted just under the skin between a cat’s shoulder blades. 

Madison Rogers, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy, Campaigns & Government Relations says: “It is always wonderful to hear stories like Toby’s where a cat and owner have been reunited thanks to their microchip after so many years apart. We cannot know what happened to Toby before he was scanned but we encourage anybody who finds a cat who they believe to be lost or stray to take them to a vet or contact an animal rescue charity where they can be checked for a microchip.

“Although this is a wonderful happy ending for Toby, if only he had been found and scanned when he first disappeared, he could have been back with his family all this time. Luckily Toby’s owner’s details were current and his story is a fantastic example of just how important it is to keep details up to date and how quickly a cat can be returned. He may have been missing for 11 years but because of his microchip he was back home within 24 hours of his owners being contacted!”

Earlier this year, the government announced that compulsory microchipping for cats would become law in England from 10 June 2024, a move which Cats Protection has campaigned for over many years. The new rules mean cats must be microchipped before they reach 20 weeks of age and owners’ contact details must be kept up to date in a microchipping database. Owners who are found to have not microchipped their cat will have 21 days to do so, or may face a fine of up to £500.

To find out more about the Coventry Branch of Cats Protection visit their website or call 02476 594 116, alternatively keep up with their news by visiting Coventry Branch of Cats Protection Facebook page.     

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