An Ohio woman was reunited with her long-lost cat on Thursday, five and a half years after his initial disappearance. He’d been on a journey of over a thousand miles in the meantime, and he traveled another thousand on his way back.
The owner, Margaret Burcham, said she had resigned herself to never seeing Bernie, a fluffy cream-colored tabby, again. He disappeared from her Florence, Kentucky home in 2015, and her search for him afterward never produced any leads.
“I looked and I called the shelters and finally just kind of accepted that he was never coming back,” she said.
Until February, when a shelter picked him up in Waco, Texas — 1,080 miles away from Dayton, Ohio, where Burcham now lives.
Volunteers at Heart of Texas Lost and Found Pets assumed the clean, healthy cat must belong to a local family, so they checked his microchip. It sent them back to Burcham.
"How often does something like this happen?” she said Thursday. “Just amazing, and all the way in Texas."
The next question for everyone involved: How would Bernie get back to Ohio? Brandi Neth, a Heart of Texas volunteer, was heading northeast anyway and agreed to ferry him home.
The handoff was scheduled; Burcham showed up in a sequined mask and Neth put Bernie back in her arms for the first time in years.
“To be able to come visit my family and bring somebody along and give them the joy of having their animal back, it just makes the trip that much worth it,” Neth said.
No one involved has any idea how Bernie made the journey from Kentucky to Texas the first time. He’s certainly not telling.
“That's what I want to know,” Burcham said. Then, addressing the cat snuggled in her arms: “We need to talk."