The female tabby mix named Clair was only a year old when she disappeared last December. Loni, 30, and her husband, Trevor, searched their Everett neighborhood but couldn't find their beloved pet. Weeks and months went by without any sign of her.
Then came the phone call on Sunday that caught Fitzgerald completely off-guard.
An Everett Animal Shelter staff member had found Clair standing in the rain near Pacific Avenue and Grand Avenue. The cat's microchip, implanted under its skin, helped the shelter locate Fitzgerald, who at the time was packing to return home from a family trip to Hawaii.
"I was in shock, I seriously started bawling my eyes out," Fitzgerald said. "I just couldn't believe it."
Fitzgerald, her husband and their 1-year-old daughter, Faith Olivia, were reunited with their cat Monday afternoon at the Everett Animal Shelter.
"Look at how big she is," she said. "She has the same black stripe and that face."
Clair, nestled safely in Fitzgerald's arms, leaned into her owner's touch and briefly closed her eyes. Fitzgerald gave her a couple quick kisses.
She was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer in 2010 when she adopted the young cat, Fitzgerald said. The two quickly became friends.
"She was like my baby," Fitzgerald said. "I just loved her."
Her cancer has been in remission for a year, Fitzgerald added. In October, she and her husband decided to get another cat for their daughter to grow up with. They planned to slowly introduce Clair to their new kitten, Boots. He'll get a microchip in January, Fitzgerald said.
When a stray cat or dog is brought into the Everett Animal Shelter a staff member will scan the animal for a microchip, said Kate Reardon, city spokeswoman. The information on the microchip often helps to locate pet owners. Four of six lost cats with microchips turned in to the Everett Animal Shelter in the past week were reunited with their owners, Reardon added.
"The good news is when the phone call matches the real pet owner," she said. "It's always really important that people update their information."
Fitzgerald said she's grateful that Clair is healthy after being discovered about seven miles away from her home.
"I wish she could tell me what she's been through," she said. "I'm definitely not going to be letting her outside for a very long time."
Amy Daybert:425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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