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Lost Cat Found After 15 Months - What's The Right Decision?

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yinyang | 14:14 Wed 16th Jan 2013 | Animals & Nature
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I know all you animal lovers on here always give some good advice and I could really use some now. Sorry, this is going to be a long one .

Basically, 15 months ago our cat Nibbler, who was 2 at the time, went out one Saturday evening and never came back. We contacted vets, cat and dog home, everywhere we could think of and had dozens of posters up but she just seemed to have vanished. Obviously we were all heartbroken, especially my girls and the worst part was never knowing if she was alive or dead.

Last May a black and white stray turned up in our estate and though it wasn't Nibbler so many people remembered seeing our posters that we would get phone calls or knocks at the door every day from people telling us they'd found our cat. After a couple of weeks we decided that fate had brought us this new cat and adopted it obviously we had him checked for a micro chip and tried to trace the owners. He was happy to stay with us, got in fine with Yin and Yang and So Shadow is very much part ofour family now.

This morning my husband got a call from the vet to Say a family brought in te cat they found and took in 6 months ago and it's Nibbler. It goes without saying that I'm delighted and my first instinct was to get the details and go and get her straight away but I'm trying to decide what is best for everybody involved.

A part of me thinks that if Nibbler is with a family that love her and she's happy there it would be best to leave her - even typing that makes me start crying again. Like I said, the 3 cats we have now are settled well together and bringing Nibbler back into the mix would upset them all.the final straw is that we are moving house in less than 2 weeks so that's going to be an upheaval for te cats already and we would be bringing Nibbler Back to a house that's totally unfamiliar to her.

I really don't know what to do or what we're going to tell the children. Are we horrible people for thinking about leaving her? Please let me know what you think. Thanks.

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Leave nibbler where she is, either say nothing to the kids or tell them the truth.
Question Author
Thanks, Woofgang. I promised the girl's that I would tell them the truth if we ever found out what happened to Nibbler and I'll stick to that. But it's not going to be an easy conversation. I thought that if I could get some photos from the other family it would help us all be reassured that she is happy and loved in her new home.
Ah yinyang, you sound such a caring person! What a dilemma. I agree with woofgang but as you said you would be honest with the children you will have to go with that. At least they will know that Nibbler is in a loving home.
I would leave her where she is, I know it's hard for you but it is the kindest thing for her and the moggies you now have.
be aware too that if nibbler wasn't microchipped (and even in some circs if she was) the choice about whether to take her back or not may not be yours to make....
Been in a similar situation except i found the cat - 500 miles from where she went missing, she was microchipped and the family did not even bother updating the chip people until 6 months after i found her.

I started getting abusive calls wanting their cat back - well tbh i dug my heels in and refused purely because of the state the cat was in when I found her - it cost me over £500 at the vets and her excuse for not ringing sooner was ' I have just found the paperwork'!!!

So really if Nibbler is happy where she is leave her and ask for updates - you sound a kind sensible person that would do the right thing xx
What a lovely caring person you are yingyang and if Nibbler is settled then best to leave her.
Shadow came to you for a reason and is settled and no point in upsetting the cats now, be honest with the children and if possible recent photo of Nibbler would be nice if her new family agree.
Hope the move goes well for you all.
Question Author
Thank you all for your replies.

Nibbler is microchipped - tat's why the vet knew to contact us. We did contact the micro chip company straight away when She went missing but never asked for our details to be removed, just in case. I just wish the family that found her had taken her to get checked straight away. I know that legally we can't demand our cat back and I would never harass anybody in the way that you experienced, FGT.

I'm sure that after this amount of time Nibbler won't remember us at all and you've all reassured me that leaving all the cats where they are is the right thing to do. But it feels horrible,it's like losing her all over again. The joys of being a cat owner , we treat them like royalty and they break our hearts.

I'm sure
I feel you should leave Nibbler where he is if the family are happy to keep him.
I went abroad to work for a year and fostered out my beloved Mowgli. When I came back home, he had settled in so well with his new family that I didn't have the heart to take him back. He happily lived out the rest of his life with his new family.
Awww... I think the others are right.. leave Nibbler where she is if she's happy... Had to give Perry a big squeeze when I read this and am grateful that he decided to choose us to live with when he was left alone in a flat when his owners moved on and left him.... and you're right... they own us, don't they!!!
Why was Nibbler taken to the vets yinyang? Was it to see if she had a microchip or another reason? I think a responsible person would have had her checked for a microchip as soon as she was found.
Do the finders want to keep her?
She will remember you after 15 months and for a lot longer than that. I would want to meet them and see where my cat was going to live (same as if you get one from a rescue).
If you aren't going to take her back, then going to see her might not be a good idea.
leave her there....there was a case in the states when the wrong babies went home with the wrong parents and was only discovered when they were 5...both sets of parents decided it was best to leave things and adopt each other's child, although they remain aunts and uncles to their true sibling so they will see them as they grow up....you know she is well and being cared for..leave it at that..
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No, I couldn't go and see Nibbler then leave her there. That.s why I thought the photos might be a good idea.

Ladybirder, as far as we can gather Nibbler has been coming and going to this house and has only recently decided they are worthy of her staying there so they were bringing her down to get her chipped as it looked like she was settling with them. My mum had a cat that arrived like this - first he ate food in the garden but wouldn't let us touch him and it took a long time before we could get him to a vet or consider him our cat. I.m supposing this family found themselves in a similar situation with Nibs. If he first arrived in their area 6 months ago that leaves 9 months where she must having been living wild so had maybe become a bit wary.

It would be a lot easier if she could tell us where she's been and what she wants to do!
If they took her to the vets to get her chipped then good for them, that would help set my mind at rest and of course they wouldn't have taken her if they didn't intend to make her their own. So that sounds all good. Oh, and I didn't mean to let Nibbler actually see you if you went to their home but I guess that would be difficult to achieve. She'd probably smell you'd been there anyway.

Sounds good and at least you know she's safe which must be an enormous relief. I wasn't saying get her back, I just wanted to make sure she would be OK and they were committed which they seem to be. I am ultra cautious over things like that. Happy ending all round I think.
"I'm sure that after this amount of time Nibbler won't remember us at all "

Don't bet on that ^^^ Animals are good at remembering scents, and kindness.

I agree with the others though, leave the cat in its 'new' home.
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Thanks, Ladybirder. The vet did say that Nibbler was in really good condition and well looked after. I will leave word that if ever this family find themselves in a position where they can't keep Nibbler then to let us know and we'll take her back then.

It is a great relief to know she's ok, it's easy to torture yourself thinking of all the horrible things that could have happened. Extra treats for yin, yang and Shadow needed tonight ,I think - and for my non hairy babies too,poor girls.
So hold on.. so Shadow is Nibbler in all but name really, he/she's adopted you and Nibbler made her self comfy elsewhere.. too adorable... It all feels perfectly logical and 'twas meant to be'...
Why not swap Shadow for Nibbler. Solved.
Yinyang, I am so thrilled for you - some of you might remember that Rover was returned to us after seven months away, he'd been living wild and only went to houses (where he was well received and kindly) as the autumn started to draw in.
I was worried that he wouldn't remember us (and certainly worried that the existing cats would resent his return) but within a couple of days, he'd settled back to sleeping in his old place, etc.
However - this is a different call, your Nibbler's been living with people who sound kind and caring, and she obviously likes it there or she wouldn't have lodged there.
Given that you have the new cat, and you are moving, it might be kinder all round to leave Nibbler where she is. You know she's OK (and I remember that that was the major part of our grieving, not knowing) and the people sound nice. If I were you I think I'd ask if you can be kept informed of her welfare, and keep an interest in her (Rover still sends a Christmas card to the kind family who took him in, and handed him in to the vet). At least you can give them her vet card and other information, so she no longer seems like a wandering stray, but more like a welcomed "adoptee". Take comfort in the fact that she is happy where she is.

I take comfort in your story in that our Rover arrived with us in exactly the way your mum's cat did - he came to a garden where cats lived, looked hopeful, and lived in the shed on top of the boiler for three months before he dared venture into the house (that was nearly ten years ago!) An adopted cat can be exceeding happy in a new home with loving people, even if it's not where he originally started out.

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