Sadly, cats go missing all the time. These fiercely independent creatures quite often decide that it is time to go on a coming-of-age journey of exploration, only to come back all skinny and whiney a few days later.

However, some cats go missing for so long that we assume the worst and reluctantly accept that they didn’t make it out there in the big bad world. So it is a great surprise when they return many years later, ready to retire in that comfortable old place they used to call home.

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

This cat, aptly named Tom-Tom, finally managed to navigate his way back to his family after 5 long years. “My sister worked at the animal shelter when she adopted Tom-Tom many years ago,” Cindi, who shared the story, told Bored Panda. “She was no longer working there when Tom-Tom disappeared but she had her friends there keeping an eye out for him.”

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

Apparently Tom-Tom wasn’t a big fan of his family’s decision to move house, and so decided to strike out on his own instead. “She moved within the same town and Tom-Tom disappeared during the dishevelment. She looked for him for several months but she had pretty much given up hope,” Cindi continued.

“She lives in a rural farming area and there are many stray cats. For instance, a stray cat took up residence in my parents’ barn about ten years ago. We’ve named him Midnight and he tolerates the grandchildren. Tom-Tom was also a Farm cat and a great mouser but had a stronger attachment to his family. My sister lives there now.”

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

Because cats are quite capable of looking after themselves and surviving in the wild, this type of story isn’t uncommon.

Unfortunately, that can make it even more difficult for owners to fully let go when a cat does go missing in the long term; people can never truly get closure on the fate of their dear, long-lost family member.

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

Happily, Tom-Tom seems to have adapted flawlessly back into family life, rebonding with his human siblings after 5 years of territorial warfare with the local feral population. He surely has plenty of stories to tell!

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

“Since Tom-Tom has been recovered, my sister took him to the vet. He was a little dehydrated but otherwise healthy. He’s an outdoor cat through and through and has taken up residence on the back porch. He seems happy to be around people and Midnight seems fine with him sharing his space.”

Image credits: UtahMomsLife

The story gave a lot of people heart and hope, as others shared their kitty comeback experiences. The main lesson to be learned from all of these is the importance of chipping your pet – this is by far your best hope of tracking your missing cat down!

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What do you think? Have you had a cat go missing for a long period, and then suddenly return? Or perhaps you were able to track them down via a chip? Why do you think some cats decide to just get up and leave sometimes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!