DES MOINES, Iowa – Lottie the calico cat, newly reunited with his Des Moines owner after being lost for nearly five years, is home for Christmas for the first time since 2015.
Kara Hanlon had long accepted that her declawed cat could not have survived on his own since early 2016, when he was accidentally let out of her home.
But on Sunday, she got a letter in the mail saying otherwise. The Animal Rescue League’s animal control division had picked up Lottie and identified him by scanning his microchip.
"It was so shocking," said Hanlon, 37. "It had been so long that, if somebody had found him, I assumed they would have had him scanned for a chip. We had kind of moved on and not thought that he was still alive."
Hanlon reunited with Lottie on Monday, Dec. 21 — the first in a string of coincidences. The last photo Hanlon snapped of Lottie was taken exactly five years before while he sat in a Christmas gift bag on Dec. 22, 2015.
"It’s just so ironic that the same week of my last picture, five years apart, is when he comes back," she said. "It does seem like a Christmas miracle that he just shows up and we get this letter out of the blue."
Animal control workers told Hanlon they picked up Lottie from the 400 block of Fleetwood on Des Moines’ south side, 10 miles from home. That’s near Hot Tamales Catering, which Hanlon knew because she picked up food there earlier this year.
So, Hanlon said she reached out to the owner "on a whim" to see if they happened to find a calico recently. As it turns out, their family took one in this month. They named him Jariah and took care of him for two weeks before calling animal control.
"I thought, well, that puts the last two weeks together, but I wonder where else he’s been," said Hanlon.
On Wednesday, shortly after ARL Animal Services posted on Facebook about Lottie’s unlikely journey, a woman who recognized the cat messaged Hanlon with another piece of the puzzle. She said she used to clean an elderly man’s home in Windsor Heights where Lottie — known to the man as Patches — was a regular guest.
He came and went as he pleased for years, often accompanied by an orange cat, until October when the man moved, the woman told Hanlon. The man presumed "Patches" was female because male calicos are extremely rare, she said.
"I’m assuming he made his way, starting in October until now, to the southeast side, or I guess the (elderly man’s) family could have given him to someone," Hanlon said. "It’s just really weird because pretty much the whole time he’s been gone is now accounted for."
Lottie, now 6, is underweight and has ear mites, but both issues should be remedied soon.
He doesn’t seem to recognize his old home, Hanlon said, and he certainly doesn’t know his real name anymore. But he already befriended her new baby, she said.
"It’s come full circle now," said Hanlon. "He’s just a little sweetie. And he’s clearly got short-term memory loss or amnesia, so he’s not going to be allowed to go outside anymore. He’s just going to have to live the indoor life now."
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa cat home for Christmas after being lost for years