Lost cat returned to former home 20 miles away and waited 7 years for owner to come

Sheppey, UK: Seven years ago John and Jude Kinloch moved home from Gillingham to Sheppey, Kent, UK. After their move their cat, Tabs who was 12 at the time, disappeared. He was lost. It transpired that he had returned to his former home about 20 miles away.

Tabs and John on Christmas Day

Tabs and John on Christmas Day. A short reunion. Photo: Mrs Kinloch (presumed).

Tabs remained in the area of that home for seven hard years eking out survival from resources available to him. He was waiting for his human guardians to come home. This was his place.

Tabs was in very poor condition when at aged 19 he was spotted by a passerby lying on the street at the back of John and Jude Kinloch’s old home in Gillingham on Christmas Eve.

The lady called Kent’s Animal Lost and Found charity who scanned him for a microchip. They identified John and Jude Kinloch. Cat and owners were reunited.

The sad end to the tale is that Tabs was in such poor condition that a vet recommended that he be euthanised. They agreed and he died two days after they were reunited.

Throughout the seven years of separation Mr Kinloch had kept a photo of Tabs on his tablet computer screensaver. He had missed him. When they gave Tabs his first proper meal after seven year he sicked it up.

Comment: if you move home and the distance is within about 20 miles it certainly pays to check your old place if your cat has gone missing soon after you have moved. Try it first as it might save you a lot of heartache and time.

Cats are welded to their home territory. They really are connected. They can disconnect and form a new home range but it takes time. There is a compulsion to return to the place they know and feel settled in. This is the hard-wired wildcat heritage. People say you should keep your cat inside for a few weeks after moving. This may work in that it may break the desire to return but it may not.

Also cats are good navigators. There are some remarkable stories. Click this for one theory on how they do it.

Note: I have plugged some holes with reasonable guesses as the reporting of this by Kent Online was skimpy. If there is something incorrect please tell me in a comment and I’ll correct it.


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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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