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Ebi, an eminently fuzzy and cute calico cat made one heck of a journey on Valentine’s Day and healed her human parents’ broken hearts. Her 2000-mile journey begins in Riverside County, California, and ends in Knoxville, Tennessee where she was reunited with Joe and Leanna Drnec.

Ebi the cat, Jurupa Valley

Image via Riverside County Department of Animal Services

But the length of this impressive journey isn’t the only remarkable thing about this. You see, she went missing nearly eight years before while Joe and Leeanna were living in Riverside County all that time ago. The Drnecs adopted this beautiful cat from a Riverside shelter when she was just a three-month-old sprite. And the good news here is that the shelter microchipped her before adopting her out, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

🦐 A Microchip Saves Another Life 🦐

But there were difficulties ahead. Because little Ebi, whose name rhymes with “levee” and means “shrimp” in Japanese, was part feral. And she really wanted to spend most of her time outside.

“She had a lot of energy, too much energy for being in the house,” Joe said. “She was bouncing off the walls and kept meowing to go outside.”

So the couple initially let her prowl outside with supervision. Eventually, Ebi was allowed to go outside on her own. As happens far too often with outdoor cats there came a day when she didn’t make it home. This was about a year after Ebi’s adoption and it plunged the couple into grief.

“We went through the whole process of mourning,” Joe says. “We thought she was gone forever, he says adding he and his wife “really didn’t know we’d ever see her again.”

But then, after all this time, Ebi was picked up as a stray on a January day in Riverside, California, and someone discovered she was microchipped. And her microchip was kept up to date. The shelter was able to contact the Drnecs, who were now three time zones away in Knoxville. The family had relocated there after Ebi disappeared in 2015.

Now, with the news that Ebi was safe and healthy, there were happy tears all around.

“It was quite a surprise to get that phone call,” says Joe, who now lives with Leanna and his parents in Bearden, Tennessee. “It brought my whole family to tears.”

🏠 Ebi Comes Home 🏠

Fortunately, she didn’t have to go it alone. John Welsh of the Riverside County Animal Services made the cross-country journey with her. He notes just how lucky this situation turned out to be because less than two percent of all cats in shelters reunite with their original owners.

John Welsh with Ebi, photo by Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Knox News

John Welsh, a spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services in California, shakes hands with Joe Drec, Photo by Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Knox News

And Welsh has an especially meaningful mission.

“I am using my own personal time and money for this trek in the interest of promoting microchips and pet reunions,” he tells Knox News.

John Welsh with Ebi

John Welsh with Ebi, photo by Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

He’s hoping Ebi’s story will spur owners to microchip their pets.

“It’s not something we could do every day, obviously,” Welsh says about his trip. “But this was important because … it’s a good way to promote microchipping, particularly for cats.”

Welsh and his feline companion left Riverside before dawn on the Wednesday following Valentine’s Day, landing in Nashville and then driving to Knoxville. Welsh made a personal donation to fund Ebi’s return home and Animal Solutions Konnection Foundation also contributed. 

Ebi looking out of carrier in Knoxville, TN

Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

Ebi was the picture of calm in her carrier when Welsh carried her through the door of Joe’s workplace, Bearden Bike & Tow. But as cameras flashed, Ebi, perhaps a bit dazed in such an unfamiliar situation, stayed put, merely poking her head outside of the carrier for a look around.

Owner Joe Drnec holds a microphone up to cat Ebi after being reunited with her seven years after loosing her,

“Owner Joe Drnec holds a microphone up to cat Ebi after being reunited with her seven years after losing her.” photo by Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

We Never Thought We’d See Her Again

Joe and Leanna were happy to see their girl again.

“Awww, baby,” Leanna said softly. “Wow, she’s so much bigger!”

“We never thought we would ever see her again,” Joe says. “This is really an amazing story.”

Indeed it is, and it bears a few similarities to the story of Ashes, a kitty who vanished and somehow made a 1400 mile trek from her home in Maine all the way to Eastpoint, Florida. She and her owner are back together after seven years, thanks to an up-to-date microchip.

One thing is clear about Ebi’s case — in her years as a missing kitty, someone gave her good care. The proof is evident in her photos.

“She looks healthy and happy,” Joe says. “She doesn’t look war-torn, like an outdoor cat.”

Ebi will slowly be reintroduced to Eunice, the family’s other kitty. To begin with, she’ll stay next door with Joe’s parents. This, Joe says will give the two kitties a chance to become friends again.

Cat Ebi is reunited with her owners Joe and Leanna Drnec after seven year

“Cat Ebi is reunited with her owners Joe and Leanna Drnec after seven years” – photo by Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel

But he adds there’s going to be one other big change.

“Back then, she was just full of kitten energy,” he says. “Now, I think she’ll make a much better inside cat. I’m not about to risk losing (her) by letting her outside again.”

Video by WATE 6 On Your Side:

🍀 Ebi Is One Lucky Kitty 🍀

That’s definitely welcome news. And as noted by the Humane Society of The United States, microchips are implanted just under the skin, usually between an animal’s shoulder blades.

“Each microchip contains a registration number and the phone number of the registry for the particular brand of chip,” the HSUS reports. “A hand-held scanner reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays this information. An animal shelter or vet clinic that finds your pet can contact the registry to get your name and phone number.”

The HSUS also notes it’s important to contact the company that registers the chip if you move in order to update the information. There may be a small fee to do this but as the Drnecs and Ashes’ family found out, it’s definitely worth it in order to bring a beloved and deeply missed pet home.

I’ve included this clip below of this sweet cat’s reunion with her mom and dad. Enjoy!

Featured images: photos by Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Knox News

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