Paula Harper-Adams and her family always wanted to find their beloved cat, Shelby, after she vanished from their home in Geelong, Victoria, Australia in 2001, but as the months and then the years went by, they came to accept that something must have happened to her and she wasn’t coming home.
The photos were kept and her memory remained only in their hearts and minds.
That is, until Harper-Adams recently opened her door to what she at first thought was a similar stray black and white tuxedo cat with matted fur and covered in parasites.
‘I was standing at the vet, where I had this moment, where I thought, “could it possibly be our cat that ran away 13 years ago?’” Harper-Adams told Channel 7 News.
Harper-Adams pulled out an old photo and sure enough, this cat had the very same markings as Shelby.
"When she brought the picture back in, it was spitting image," said Ebony Deglaitis, a veterinary nurse at Bellarine Vet Clinic.
The staff later confirmed that it was Shelby.
The news is astonishing, especially since outdoor cats only have a life expectancy of 1-5 years (as opposed to indoor cats, which have a life expectancy of 12-15 years).
As for Harper-Adams, she would take the advice of the Humane Society of the United States, which says when a pet goes missing, never give up the search.
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