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Six months after getting lost, an orange cat found its way back to the right person

MILES PARKS, HOST:

If you've ever had a pet that went missing, you know the heartache of calling for them, searching for them, maybe even putting up posters. Well, this is a story of a cat that got really lost but ended up finding the right person. From Homewood, Ala., here's Melanie Peeples.

MELANIE PEEPLES, BYLINE: Erin Donohoo is a tiny woman in a big car rounding a corner in her neighborhood.

ERIN DONOHOO: That's where I saw him. I thought, that doesn't look like a cat I recognize, other than it does look like a cat a couple of blocks away that likes to roam around. That cat normally wears a collar. There's no way that I can tell this story without looking like a crazy cat lady.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAT MEOWING)

PEEPLES: And she is very clear on this point that she is not a crazy cat lady, although her friends might disagree. She says the cats just seem to find her.

DONOHOO: They just know. They know.

PEEPLES: They just seem to know she's a cat lover. The next day, she sees the little, orange cat again, and he looks hungry, so she calls him over and feeds him.

DONOHOO: And I thought, oh, no, I can't take another cat. There's a limit. I can't have another cat and have a husband at the same time. And as much as my husband would probably argue with this, I do love my husband more than I love cats (laughter).

PEEPLES: It should be pointed out here that the last stray cat that showed up at Erin's house ended up needing $1,000 worth of dental work, and Erin talked her husband into keeping him, even though they already had two cats. So now the geriatric stray Murray is part of the family and has spectacular teeth. Erin decides to take the new stray kitty to the vet, hoping that he has a microchip to identify him. And she waits.

DONOHOO: The vet's office called and said, you're not going to believe this. We got a response. We found the owner.

PEEPLES: But there was a twist. The cat is from Atlanta, 140 miles away, and he's been missing for six months.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAT MEOWING)

PEEPLES: It turns out his name is Buddy, and he managed to slip out of his house six months ago. His owner, Andrea Stroud, was just sick about it. The last tip she'd received was when someone spotted an orange cat at a gas station nearby. Two little girls were petting him. Erin is all in at this point and offers to meet Buddy's owner halfway. The next morning, she pulls into the pilot truck stop just across the Georgia state line.

DONOHOO: This has got to be her.

Hey.

ANDREA STROUD: Hey. Good to see you.

DONOHOO: Oh, are y'all so excited?

STROUD: I am. I am.

Hey, buddy. Hey. You're home. You're home, man. You done went out for a whole joyride. How you get to Alabama?

PEEPLES: Although Buddy's owner, Andrea, had just started putting his toys away, she had never given up hope that he was still alive and someone like Erin would find him.

STROUD: She is amazing, and she just don't know how much she touched me when she was like, yeah, well, I can meet you. People don't do that.

PEEPLES: But Erin Donohoo does. And that, she says, is proof that this was not the mission of a crazy cat lady. A crazy cat lady, she says, would have kept the cat. For NPR News, I'm Melanie Peeples in Homewood, Ala. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Melanie Peeples