Tiger wouldn’t allow Carol O’Connell close him when he first started showing up in her yard approximately three years ago. The elderly cat appeared to be kind, yet he was terrified.
“He’d arrive and then go for months at a time,” said Lynne Meloccaro, executive director of the Dutchess County SPCA in New York. “She fed him for a long period but couldn’t get close to him.”
Because O’Connell works at the DCSPCA and has seen a lot of frightened animals, she knew that if she was patient and nice, Tiger will ultimately warm up to her. O’Connell and her son Dan have worked hard over the past three years to earn Tiger’s confidence, and the cat has now felt secure enough to approach them and even exhibit affection.
Tiger seems to have had a home at one point, based on his demeanor. O’Connell brought a scanner home from work on a whim to test whether he was chipped — and he was, amazingly.
O’Connell informed the shelter he was overjoyed, and they called John and Maggie Welz, the family identified on Tiger’s chip. The Welzes had been gone for 11 years, and the shelter employees couldn’t believe what they were hearing when they met with them.
Tiger had been terrified by something on Halloween night when he was just three years old, and had somehow fled his house and vanished. His family looked everywhere and put up flyers in the hopes that someone would locate him.
They requested the new owners to keep a look out for him when they sold their house, and they continued their hunt from their new home, but they finally had to realize that Tiger would not be returning home.
“His family had given up hope of finding him, and we weren’t sure they’d want him back after all these years,” Meloccaro said. “But once they realized he was still alive, they didn’t hesitate – they wanted him back straight immediately.”
“Some individuals have come out since then and stated they’ve been feeding him for a long time,” Meloccaro added. “He was able to live because a large number of caring members of the community assisted him, despite the fact that no one had been able to capture him and bring him to us earlier.
When Carol and Dan eventually got him, he didn’t fight them and seemed to enjoy being caressed and patted. Maybe he’d decided he’d had enough of living on the streets and wanted to go back inside.”
Maggie Welz went over to the shelter as soon as she could, hoping to see her pet Tiger again. Because it had been so long since Tiger had seen his mother, no one knew if he would remember her or not.
When Welz walked into the room and saw Tiger, she immediately rushed over and scooped him into her arms.
Tiger cuddled her immediately back, and it didn’t take long for her to cuddle back.
Tiger just looked at her, smelled her, and placed his head on her shoulder, according to Meloccaro. “It was evident that he wasn’t going to oppose to her becoming his human from now on.”
Tiger is now back at home, where he belongs, and has fully reintegrated into his family’s life. He has resorted to sleeping snuggled up with his mother every night, clearly missing them. His family believed they’d never see him again, but he’s now home, owing to the generosity of their community, and they’re happy to have him back safe and sound.