When Tiger first started showing up in Carol O’Connell’s yard about three years ago, he wouldn’t let her get anywhere near him. She could tell the senior cat was sweet, but he was scared.
“He would show up and then disappear for months at a time,” Lynne Meloccaro, executive director of the Dutchess County SPCA (DCSPCA) in New York, told The Dodo. “She fed him but couldn’t get close to him for a long time.”
O’Connell works at the DCSPCA and has seen her share of nervous animals, so she knew if she was patient and kind, Tiger might come around eventually. In the past three years, O'Connell and her son Dan have worked hard to gain Tiger's trust, until the cat finally felt comfortable enough to approach them and even show them affection. From the way he acted, it seemed as if Tiger may have had a home at one point. On a whim, O’Connell brought a scanner home from work to see if he was chipped — and miraculously, he was.
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Overjoyed, O’Connell told the shelter and they contacted the family listed on Tiger’s chip, John and Maggie Welz. When the shelter workers spoke with the Welzes, they couldn't believe what they were hearing: Tiger had been missing for 11 years.