Unlikely homecoming: Tooele woman reunites with lost cat after 13 years

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TOOELE (ABC4 News) – Talk about an unlikely reunion. A long lost cat made its way back to its owner in Tooele 13 years after it went missing. Shelter officials said this wouldn’t have been possible if the cat wasn’t microchipped or if the owner’s family had moved away.

It was Kellie Carlsen’s senior year of high school when she lost her cat, Silver to cancer. To help cheer her up, her parents gifted her a black and yellow kitten named Mocha.

“I fell so in love with her. Deeply in love and we had a strong connection from the beginning,” she said.

Mocha as a kitten (c. 2007)

But only four months after, Mocha ran away and never made it back home.

“We searched and searched, day to night. We searched for about four years,” said Carlsen. “Finally I just got to the point that I thought something bad happened.”

On Wednesday, Tooele Animal Shelter received a stray cat from the woman who had been feeding her for the last 10 years. The woman said she was moving and feared no one would care for the cat once she was gone.

Employees at the shelter scanned the cat, found a microchip, and linked the cat to Carlsen’s parents. Luckily, her parents still lived at the same house and had the same landline number.

Lanae Lewis, the shelter supervisor, said when she called the family, they initially thought there was a mistake.

“They were really, really confused at the time. They had no idea what cat I was talking about,” said Lewis.

But Carlsen’s parents decided to visit the cat at the shelter anyways. That’s when they realized they needed to call their daughter right away.

“My dad said, ‘You won’t believe it. This is your cat.’ I thought there was no way. He said, ‘Why don’t you come down and take a look? It might jog your memory. We know it’s your cat,'” said Carlsen.

Carlsen reunited with Mocha (July 18, 2020)

Sure enough, Carlsen said when she saw the cat in question, she immediately knew it was Mocha.

“The shelter supervisor opened the cage and when Mocha turned around, I knew it was her based on the markings on her face. Her eyes lit up and her ears pricked up. I started shaking. I was speechless. It was amazing. It was like the connection immediately sparked up again after all these years,” she said.

Lewis said it’s rare for her team at the shelter to see reunions happen between pets and their owners this long. But said Carlsen and Mocha’s story serves as a good reminder about the importance of microchipping and registering your pet as well as why stray animals should be brought to the shelter.

“We get a lot of animals in the shelter that are chipped, but the chip isn’t registered, therefore is useless. Without Mocha’s chip, she never would have been reunited with her owners today,” the shelter wrote in a Facebook post.

The post went on to say, “If Mocha had been brought to the shelter when she was initially found, she would have been returned to her owner 10 years ago. Instead she lived a long, risky life out on the streets with nowhere to call home, and a well-meaning individual feeding her as a stray.”

Kellie Carlsen and Mocha

Carlsen, who is now married with kids, said Mocha is temporarily staying with her parents until Wednesday while she prepares her apartment for her new furry family member.

“I’m in utter shock. I really think it was meant to be. It amazes me of what she has been through or what has happened. Fate brought her back. I’m glad she can finish off the last years of her life with us. We’re excited for her to have some happy home time with us,” she said.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.
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