BRUNSWICK — When Kendra Armstrong of Phippsburg came home from work in 2015 to find her cat, Moose, had escaped her house, she assumed she’d never see him again.

“I looked around the neighborhood and on the Midcoast Humane’s stray page, but he wasn’t there,” said Armstrong. “I had lost hope. I was so certain he was long gone, like crossed the rainbow bridge gone, and I’d never see him again.”

Five years later, she glanced Midcoast Humane’s website, where she rediscovered the wayward feline.

“He was one of the first cats that popped up and I immediately recognized him,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong and Moose were reunited last week.

Kendra Armstrong of Phippsburg was reunited with her cat, Moose, after five years apart. Photo courtesy of Nick Schroeder.

“Just to see he was alive was a slap in the face,” said Armstrong. “It felt like a dream and it still does.”

Desiree Roberts, director of shelter operations at Midcoast Humane in Brunswick, said it’s rare that an animal brought in as a stray is reunited with its owner — especially when, in Moose’s case, it doesn’t have a collar or a microchip. So when Armstrong reached out to the shelter to claim her cat, they weren’t hopeful.

Roberts said the nonprofit frequently receives messages from people across the country that think they recognize their pet, but it’s rarely the case.

Then Armstrong sent photos of Moose, and Roberts said the cat in the photos and the cat in their shelter had matching “distinguishing features,” namely, two small notches in Moose’s ear, possibly an old battle wound from a cat fight. Those tiny marks were the confirmation they needed.

“We couldn’t believe it,” Roberts said. “We’re thrilled.”

When Armstrong arrived at Midcoast Humane to see Moose after five years apart, she said her usually shy, independent cat didn’t seem to recognize her at first.

“I didn’t think he remembered me, but when I left the room to get his paperwork he was meowing so loud and frantically, it was like he was screaming for me to come back,” said Armstrong. “I’ve never heard him meow like that. Now he wants my attention all the time.”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about 3.2 million cats are brought to U.S. shelters each year, either as strays or because their owner is surrendering them. Of those, only about 90,000 cats — 0.02% — are returned to their owners.

Roberts stressed the importance of microchipping pets, so if they get lost and brought to a shelter, they can be identified and returned to their owners. If microchipping isn’t an option, she recommended putting collars with identification tags on pets.

After Moose was brought to Midcoast Humane as a stray in 2015, he was adopted two weeks later by Nick Schroeder of Portland, who is allergic to cats and was looking for a Siamese cat because their fur is hypoallergenic. Schroeder also renamed the cat.

“When I adopted him the shelter said his name was ‘Piglet’ and it didn’t seem like the right fit,” said Schroeder. “I thought ‘Oldest’ was a unique name. It started as a lark, but he grew into it.”

Schroeder owned Moose, or Oldest, for four years until he was forced to surrender him to Midcoast Humane due to a change in living situation.

“I had to bring him back because we had a dog and it was a bad situation for him,” said Schroeder. “It was a really crushing decision to make. I was sobbing when I had to bring him back to Midcoast Humane.”

After Armstrong brought Moose back home, she and Schroeder connected on Facebook and began sharing photos and videos of Moose’s life away from Armstrong.

“I loved being able to get a glimpse into his adventure away from me,” said Armstrong. “I’m happy he was with someone who loved him and cared for him. He’s not the type of cat that everyone can love. He picks favorites when it comes to people.”

Schroeder said he was “worried that someone would adopt him that doesn’t understand his needs,” and is grateful he’s back with Armstrong.

“He’s a really particular cat that requires the right owner,” said Schroeder. “He’s easy to root for. He’s had a tough story, but has a heart of gold.”


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