I see lost and found cat flyers around my neighborhood all the time. You, too? It's the saddest thing -- so many domesticated cats left to fend for themselves, so many owners missing their pets. And often, it's a cat who lost through no fault of the owners. What happens when a natural disaster tears an animal and its family apart? In 2011 the Yamagishi family lost their beloved cat during the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. But this story has a happy ending: After three years the cat was reunited with its family! Here's how it happened.
When the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 hit the Yamagishi family's home in Ofunato their black short-haired cat, Suika, went missing. They searched for three months to no avail and finally came to the sad conclusion that Suika had died in the disaster.
But this spring a couple discovered a black short-haired cat sleeping in a forest outside a nearby city. They noticed the cat was friendly and wearing a collar, so they took it to the Ofunato Health Center. There an employee photographed the cat to put its picture in the paper -- and the employee noticed faded letters and numbers on the collar.
A quick phone call later and the Yamagishis were reunited with their beloved pet. "Where have you been?" Kazuko Yamagishi cried upon seeing her cat. "It's just like a dream!"
It's a good thing the Yamagishis put their name and phone number on Suika's collar. And it's a good thing the health center employee noticed it when he was taking a photo. And it's an especially good thing nothing happened to Suika during her three-year sojourn alone.
You sometimes hear about lost pets who find their way home, and I know animals have certain instincts that can help them if they're lost. But that's under more ordinary circumstances. If they've been in a natural disaster I think it would be harder. And a tsunami? Everything would smell differently, and the landscape would shift. So of course Suika wouldn't be able to return home without help. And even though three long years had passed it sounds like everyone was happy to see each other again.
If you lost your pet in an earthquake do you think they'd be able to find their way back to you?
Image via Peter Trimming/Flickr