Eli is back home after five months lost. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Where have you been for five months Eli?

The McCool family of Featherston searched everywhere for Eli when he went missing in November but after months with no sign of him they were starting to lose hope.

“We had him for years, ever since he was a baby, and to see him walk out the door and not come back was very upsetting,” Anita McCool said.

“It had been five months and by that stage we had almost given up. We thought there was a small chance we would see him again, but it was very slim.”

Then, in late March, someone spotted a stray black and white cat lingering around their property in Featherston.

They called SPCA’s Masterton Centre and senior animal welfare inspector Ben Lakomy arrived to pick the cat up shortly afterwards.

“Other than a healed wound on his head, he was in good shape. He’d been hanging around the caller’s address for about a week and a paper collar [a tool used to try to locate owners] had been unsuccessful,” Lakomy said.

Paper collars contain contact information and are designed to alert owners that their cat is visiting other homes.

After bringing him into the SPCA, Lakomy discovered the cat had a microchip, and it wasn’t his first visit to the SPCA.

In 2014, he had been rescued by the SPCA’s Wellington Centre when he was just a 300g kitten needing to be bottle-fed. He was later adopted from the centre.

SPCA called the owner registered under the microchip who turned out to be Anita McCool.

“We got in touch with the McCool family who confirmed their very much-loved cat Eli had been missing since November last year,” Lakomy said. “They were over the moon.”

McCool said she was shocked to get the call from SPCA.

“The inspector dropped Eli back home to us later that evening,” she said. “Eli heard our voices before we had lifted the towel over the crate, and he was almost in more shock than we were that he was finally home.”

McCool says she was overjoyed by Eli’s return and that his story shows the benefit of microchipping pets and keeping those details up-to-date.

“We have moved three times since owning Eli and I’ve always made sure to change the address on his microchip each time,” she said.

Lakomy says this is just another example of the importance of microchipping.

“That microchip allowed Eli to be reunited with his owner and he has made himself at home again rather quickly.”

To find out more about microchipping your animal, visit:www.spca.nz