Cleo the cat reunited with her owner in Edmonton

Cleo the cat and her owner shared a tearful reunion at Edmonton’s International Airport Saturday morning, after being by separated by thousands of kilometres for over half a decade.

An ear tattoo, vet records and a bit of sleuthing helped track down Cleo's owner

Amanda Graham and Cleo reunite at the Edmonton International Airport after 6 years apart. (CBC)

Cleo the cat and her owner shared a tearful reunion at Edmonton's International Airport Saturday morning, after being separated by thousands of kilometres for over half a decade.

"I didn't think I'd cry as much as I did," said Amanda Graham while holding her long-lost pet.

Just remembering Amanda when the kitty cat climbed on her, you can't put a value on that.- Richard Guyon

It was the first time Graham has seen the calico since she went missing from her family's farm in Kemptville, Ont., just south of Ottawa, six years ago.

Graham said Cleo was somewhat of an escape artist. She loved going outside, and no matter what the family did to keep her on the farm, she would find a way to wander off.

But when Cleo failed to return one day, Graham feared the worst. When a search for Cleo and putting up posters yielded no sign of her pet, she gave up. A year later, Graham moved to Edmonton to finish her schooling.

She put Cleo out of her mind. until last week, when she received a call from Betty-Jean Matthews, the owner of the Stuck in the Mud Animal Rescue. Cleo had been found in September, wandering the streets of Brockville, Ont.

Richard Guyon decided to donate Airmiles to fly Cleo home after reading about her story on CBC News. (CBC)

She had been placed at the pound before being given to Matthews. A veterinarian noticed a faded identification tattoo on her ear, one that had not been used in the province for years. They were able to track Cleo back to an Alberta clinic where Cleo was spayed in 2009.

"When we found the tattoo was leading us to Edmonton, we didn't really believe it," said Brenda Potts, who works with Stuck in the Mud.

"They didn't believe us that it was their tattoo. And we kept going back to the drawing board. But we double-checked, it was Edmonton."

Potts said Cleo was a shy and sensitive cat, who had trouble adjusting to new situations. She wasn't being picked up for adoption, which she said made them more determined to find her original owner.

Using veterinary records, Facebook and some luck, the rescuers were able to find Graham and phone her.

"She was essentially on deaths row for euthanization … [They] tracked her down all the way through records and finally found me," said Graham. 

Getting Cleo home

Now that Cleo had been found, there was another obstacle: getting her back to Graham.

Potts said the organization was trying to raise funds to fly Cleo to Alberta, when Richard Guyon stepped in.

The Edmonton man said he heard about Cleo on the news, and decided to help reunite Graham and her pet.

"I said 'well, I have Airmiles. I can help take care of the airfare to get her home,'"

The staff at Stuck in the Mud were initially surprised by the offer. But Guyon said it was well worth it to bring Cleo to Edmonton.

"Just remembering Amanda when the kitty cat climbed on her, you can't put a value on that."

Graham said she is grateful for all the time and money put into bringing Cleo back to her.

"'It's just incredible, these nice people doing this amazing thing for someone they don't even know."

She said it will be an adjustment when she gets home with Cleo, especially since the cat will now have to get used to living with Graham's pet husky. She also said she plans to get Cleo's ear tattoo updated, just in case the calico starts her wandering ways again.


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