‘He absolutely recognized me’: Cape Cod family reunited with cat missing for 7 years

After seven years, a Dennis family has finally been reunited with their furry feline, Tigger.

The homecoming took place last Wednesday at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) shelter in Centerville, after staff scanned the orange tabby and discovered he had a microchip — allowing for them to notify owner Becky West.

When Tigger’s typical morning stroll extended too long that one fateful morning, the family took up the typical missing pet routine, West said, hanging up fliers, calling nearby shelters, and reaching out to the local police department. Eventually, the family accepted that he was gone.

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Everyone but West, that is.

“My family got to the point where they would be like, ‘You poor thing, he got eaten by a coyote — you can get over it now,’” the 47-year-old said. “And so when the phone call came, I look at my husband and I say, ‘I told you so!’ We listened to the message three times to make sure it was true.”

When Tigger first disappeared, West’s children were teenagers. Today, they have children of their own.

“For my grandkids, it’s the weirdest thing on the planet,” she said. “It’s pretty funny to watch them be like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me you had a cat?'”

Now 8 years old, Tigger was recovered by a local animal control officer sent to rescue him, along with another cat and a dog, from a condemned home in Mashpee, said MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin.

Although a little on the smaller side, the feline was “clearly well-loved” during the period he was missing, he said.

As soon as Tigger laid eyes on West, she said it was as if they had never been apart.

“He absolutely recognized me,” she said. “He wouldn’t eat or drink at the shelter, but, as soon as I got him home, he just dove right in. We always called him our little dog anyway. He’s just the sweetest thing.”

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During his time working for the organization, Halpin said he’s never heard of a reunion occuring after such a long, “astounding” stretch.

Without a microchip, Halpin said, this reunion — and many others — would not be possible.

“This story underscores why it’s so critical to have one,” he said. “A microchip is [a radio-frequency identification] code. That code is attached to an owner’s contact information, whatever information they want to share — usually a telephone number and an address — with one of the primary microchip vendors. It’s a holding place for contact info should an animal go missing.”

Because of microchips, which are relatively cheap, easy, and painless, Halpin said, the organization is able to reunite about two to three animals a month.

West said she recommends that all pet owners microchip their animals.

“If you love your pet, get it microchipped,” she said.

And from now on, Tigger will be an indoor cat in her household, West said.

“I’m going to duct tape him to the floor,” she joked. “There’s no way he’s getting out again.”