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Big Steve is an extra-large white kitty who mysteriously turned up in the strangest place. He was over a thousand miles from home, cruelly abandoned. Then someone brought the kitty to Pasco County Animal Services, rescuers took him in, and a remarkable chain of events unfolded.

In the world of cat rescues, we frequently see heartwarming reunions that happen against all odds and seem designed by fate or guided from above. These reunions often follow great tragedies or natural disasters, followed by a ray of light, a healing moment for families that seems predestined. 

Finding this cat in the nick of time led to many such healing moments that were much-needed. But, be aware, this story might make you shed some tears by the time of the joyful ending.

Big Steve the cat found in a carrier beside a KFC in Florida

Big Steve found in a carrier beside a KFC dumpster in Florida. Images via Facebook/Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue

Somebody Dumped Big Steve Beside a Dumpster

Rescuers from Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue in Pasco County, Florida, took in the white cat from the shelter after someone dumped him like garbage beside a KFC dumpster. He was inside a carrier with a small neck abrasion but otherwise healthy. This part of the story is sadly all too common, but then vets discovered Steve’s microchip, followed by a “heartwarming and bizarre” phone call. 

The big guy’s chip led to his mom Janice over 1.4K miles north in New Hampshire. Thankfully, the contact information worked, and the rescuers got a return phone call, learning the feline went missing four years prior. The family had never left New Hampshire, so it’s a perplexing mystery how he got so far away. Where had he been? Whatever the case, Steve isn’t talking.

As it turns out, the cat was named in honor of a family friend who passed one week before they adopted the kitten for Janice’s grandson Gavin over seven years ago. 

Janice and Gavin with Big Steve

Janice and Gavin with Big Steve years ago

Pictures show the cat was a big boy even then and that Gavin loved him very much. There was a lot of cat to love!

Gavin holds his kitty Big Steve in New Hampshire via Facebook/Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue

Gavin holds his kitty in New Hampshire via Facebook/Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue

But then, one day, the family left for errands, returning to find the cat inexplicably missing. They left him safely inside their home. All this time, they never had an explanation.

The Family Search and Tragedy

The family searched for the missing cat for years and never gave up hope. But then, tragically, Gavin passed away from an inoperable brain tumor in January 2022 at ten years old. The reunion the family had hoped for all those years didn’t happen – until now.

“Now, somehow, Steve turns up, tossed away like trash at a KFC in Florida. His family has never been to Florida and hasn’t left New Hampshire since before Steve went missing. Steve remains the sweetest kitty but holds the secret of where he has been for the past 4 years and how he ended up in Florida, far from his home in New Hampshire. His microchip has helped him find his family, even if it is missing his little boy,” wrote the rescue president Ruth Pennington.

Big white cat at Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue in Florida, Pasco County

After finding the cat, nobody could have expected this remarkable chain of events. But now, the question remained of logistic. How would they get Big Steve back to New Hampshire?

Big Steve Flies Home with New Friends

After learning about Big Steve’s amazing story, the rescuers knew they had to return him to his family ASAP. But how? That’s when another chance string of events led them to the answer.

A volunteer takes Big Steve by plane, Ruth Pennington kissed him goodbye, Family sits with their long-lost cat, Janice with a sign at the airport reading 'Steve'

In the never-ending practice of TNR (trap, neuter, return), the rescuers took 6 cats to the vet. Later, they got a call that one of them had a microchip registered to Save Our Strays (SOS) in Pinellas. While talking to them, they mentioned Big Steve and how they hoped to return him home. It was an immediate “blessing,” and SOS jumped into action, raising $810 for the plane ticket. Then, they even lined up a volunteer to personally sit with Big Steve on the airplane ride home!

“Tomorrow, Steve will finally fill the hole in Janice’s heart, as we know Gavin will be watching his much loved Steve finally get back home!” shared Pennington with Cole and Marmalade. “I hope this story warms your heart as much as it has ours.” 

Since then, Big Steve reunited with his long-lost mom and dad.

Big Steve's amazing reunion in New Hampshire thanks to so many rescuers and Save Our Strays

Big Steve’s amazing reunion in New Hampshire thanks to so many rescuers and Save Our Strays

We can’t imagine what an incredibly healing moment it was. We hope sharing this remarkable story will likewise be healing for the family. All those involved have been deeply touched by it. 

“Steve is home, and everyone is in tears,” Save Our Strays shared.

Janice reunited with Big Steve, cat gives her a kiss

We dedicate this story to the memory of Gavin and Big Steve. We’d also like to thank the many human angels in disguise at Save our Strays and Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue, who shared this story with us. 

Gavin with Big Steve

Gavin with Big Steve 

You can see more on Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue’s Facebook as well as Save Our Stray’s Facebook and Instagram.

Video of the reunion via Facebook/Tip My Ear TNR & Rescue

 

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