It happens everyday, breaking the hearts and devastating families all around the world. Your beloved feline gets out of the house and is nowhere to be found. Our minds swirl with a million scenarios ranging from hopeful to worst case scenario. In many cases, there comes a time when you unwillingly accept that you may never see them again. But there is always a tiny sliver of hope that remains. Even as the days turn into weeks, then months, it will forever be there. Just as the love for your missing cat will always be in your heart.
For the Repucci family in Essex, Massachusetts, it had been 5 and a half years since their sweet Larry disappeared.
Larry’s story began when he and his 2 siblings arrived at Cape Ann Animal Aid, a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter, in September of 2011. The trio were named Larry, Moe and Curly. Robert Repucci and his daughter were volunteering with the organization when the “3 stooges” arrived. They knew mom Elinore Repucci had been looking to add a tabby cat to the family, so they sent her his picture.
And that was that. Larry joined their family on September 14th, also gaining some new furry siblings. He was warmly welcomed by tuxedo brother Sheldon, calico sister Annie (R.I.P.) and canine sister Josie, a rescue dog from Puerto Rico.
The family spent their days together snuggling and simply enjoying each others company.
They could regularly be seen soaking up some sunshine outside on the deck.
Then, one drizzly day in August of 2013, Larry found his way outside unattended.
The family searched everywhere but there was no trace of him. The woods near the home were scoured for days and even Josie joined the search party. Larry’s face was plastered all over the area and on the local missing pet social media pages. Shelters were contacted but no cats fitting his description had been brought in. Before he had been adopted, Larry had been microchipped by the shelter. This was good news if he was found because his microchip information would be available.
Our search party. Still haven’t turned up anything but we’re not giving up hope.
Sadly, after months of searching with no sign of him, they believed that he’d met an unfortunate fate with local coyotes.
Attempting to help heal their broken hearts, they adopted a kitten named Bijou a few months later. She was a wonderful addition to their home and an adorable female Larry look-a-like. The Repucci’s were forced to go on with life, never forgetting their tabby cat, Larry.
It was 5 1/2 years later and twenty miles away that Larry’s tale continued.
The Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society in Salisbury, MA received a call on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019. A local gentleman had been feeding the birds in his yard when a stray cat wandered up. The cat appeared to be limping and began eating the bread laid out for the birds. The man knew the cat had to be starving if it resorted to eating bread. He wanted to help the cat but didn’t know where to start.
Joan McCormack, the Adoption Program Coordinator at the rescue asked him if he would like to borrow a trap. He was more than willing to learn how to use the TNR equipment if it meant helping the cat. He came into the shelter the next morning to pick up the trap. After being shown how to set it properly and make sure the cat is not harmed any way, he was off on his mission.
It took less than a day for him to secure the cat safely in the trap! He brought the scared feline back to the shelter for medical attention that very night. The tabby cat was in relatively good shape but was missing a few toes on one paw. It looked to be an older injury as it was fully healed at this time, showing no indications of pain. He was clearly hungry but was only a bit underweight, meaning he was getting food somewhere.
It was when they checked him for a microchip–as they do with all strays brought in–that this story took a happy turn.
They found a chip but that was only the first hurdle. What is more important is the information registered to that chip. Sadly, many cats and dogs have chips that are never registered or the info isn’t updated. This leaves the well-intended procedure practically useless.
Finding this chip, the rescue contacted the microchip company and were thrilled to find up-to-date info. Turns out the tabby cat was none other than missing cat, Larry Repucci!
Merrimack nervously called the contact listed on the microchip. Just because they find information, it doesn’t mean it’s someone who wants their cat back. I know, infuriating, but it happens.
Elinore McCoy Repucci was going about her normal workday on Thursday, March 7th, when she received an odd call.
At first, she figured the shelter was calling for a reference and perhaps someone that she knew was adopting. But the next words she heard would eventually change her entire world.
“Are you missing a cat?”
Not even imagining it could be Larry, gone for more than 5 years, she automatically told them she wasn’t. It wasn’t until they explained that they had a cat in their possession that had the Repucci’s contact information. As they described the cat, Elinore’s heart beat raced with recognition.
It was her cherished Larry, a bit worse for the wear, but alive!
No one is sure how Larry made it the 20 miles away from his home. Elinore thinks that maybe he had taken shelter from the rain in someones truck-bed or vehicle the day he went missing. If they happened to drive away without knowing of the stow-a-way, this would explain the distance. But 5 1/2 years later!? They may never know what adventures and dangers Larry faced during his time away, but are just thrilled he’s home.
When Robert and Elinore arrived at the shelter to pick him up, their reunion was nothing short of witnessing a miracle. The look on Elinore’s face tells it all–no words needed.
Larry was a bit overwhelmed with the fuss surrounding him at first. However, as soon as he was in Elinore’s arms, he clearly remembered her.
He snuggled up to me right away as soon as we were home. He remembered where things were in the house. Especially the cat food cabinet. He slept for a few days straight then settled right back to the old routine. Now he doesn’t want to stop being pet!
That routine though, includes his being reintroduced to his furry siblings, which is thankfully going well.
He now has a new 5-year-old sister Bijou whom he’s never met. During his absence, apparently she’d become the princess and ruler of the home. His other fur-siblings, Sheldon (now 10-years-old), and Josie (now 9), needed to meet the “new 8-year-old Larry” too. Before he’d disappeared, he was a shy 2-year-old cat. Now he was a well-traveled, street cat who had no shame going up to people and calling for attention. This was likely what saved his life over the years.
With the adorable bond the Repucci animals have, it’s not taking Larry long to be accepted again. Being back in his home, he’s roaming around without a care in the world.
Food is available, warm and comfy beds can be found everywhere and his humans laps are always open.
He is certainly taking FULL advantage of that!
Now if he can just get Sheldon to share his mice…
And the happy family know none of it would be possible without his microchip and a caring man who wanted to help a stray. It literally saved his life. Had Larry not shown up at a no-kill shelter or a shelter that didn’t check for chips, his fate could have been very different. For a senior stray cat, entering the foster system at his age isn’t a guarantee to be adopted. But now Larry will never have to experience that. Elinore has some new rules around the house for Larry now too.
“He’s not ever going outside again,” Elinore proclaimed laughing.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP, MICROCHIP YOUR PETS & SPAY AND NEUTER!
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