Vancouver Island cat missing for 2 years reunited with family

It’s not unusual to find a cat on her stump, a cat on her stair, or a cat seemingly floating above her in the air (on the other side of her skylight).

“Maybe [the cats] communicate amongst themselves,” Courtney laughs. “They say, ‘Word on the street is, if you’re in trouble go to that house, they’ll feed you!'”

Courtney’s been caring for feral cats around her Image West Gifts shop for a while, but says that she and her partner Barry had never seen this black and white cat before.

“It came running [towards us] right away,” Courtney says, showing me a video of their first meeting with the cat. “It’s like ‘Meow! Meow! Meow! Help me! Help me!’”

She says it was really friendly, obviously tired, and undoubtedly starving. “We brought it home and it ate its weight in food and treats and canned salmon!”

Courtney posted a picture of the cat on the Ucluelet community Facebook page and asked if the cat was missing. Days went by, but nobody claimed her.

“The trail went cold, so to speak,” Courtney says.

She temporarily called the cat Sir Eggsellent because it was Easter, before renaming her Scrappy because of the way she meowed at the other cats.

Then — a week later — Courtney was contacted by a woman named Ashley who lived 200 kilometres away. She said the cat was her young daughter Aria’s best friend and her name was Chi-Chi. Photos of the girl cuddling the cat show that the markings were identical to Scrappy.

Ashley also said the cat had been missing for two years.

“I know how important it is to bring this fluffy gift back to the little girl,” Courtney says.

So, she spent four hours fixing Chi-Chi’s matted hair, removing the remnants of her time avoiding Ucluelet’s wild predators and even wilder storms, and preparing her for a reunion that starts today.

“Meow! Meow!” Courtney says to Chi-Chi, while getting into her truck. “You’re going home!”

An hour and a half drive away, Chi-Chi’s family is waiting for her return. They say the cat went missing after temporarily staying with a friend while they were in the process of moving from Ucluelet.

“She just ran out the door,” Ashley says. “And never came back.”

They searched, but they couldn’t find the cat. The now five-year-old Aria was devastated.

“She was heartbroken,” her dad, Jesse, says.

But today Aria will learn a heart can heal. After years of the girl never giving up hope that her friend was alive, after years of her mom Ashley searching social media for any sign of her, Chi-Chi and Aria have been reunited.

Aria embraces the cat and buries her face in her fur.

“I’m so happy for them,” Courtney says, watching the girl and her cat reconnect.

Courtney also says she’s so grateful that — after enduring such a challenging year, and experiencing much loss — she’s receiving a priceless gift by being part of this reunion.

“This is proof that good things happen,” Courtney smiles. “There’s a lot of bad stuff going on, but there’s good too!”