When little Chloe Hill’s new kitten Salem disappeared through an open door, the youngster was heartbroken. The devastated six year-old and her mum Karen spent weeks searching their Halesowen neighbourhood looking for the cat. But they eventually feared the much-loved moggie was gone forever and got on with their lives. Now, 11 years later, an astonished Chloe has been reunited with her cat – on Christmas Eve. Wandering Salem was handed in to the RSPCA in Birmingham which identified her owner from her microchip.
Chloe, now 17 and from Halesowen, said: “I just couldn’t believe it when I saw Salem again. I never thought she would come back after all these years. It was such a great surprise, especially on Christmas Eve, it really made my Christmas.” Karen, a hair salon owner, thought she was being “pranked” when an RSPCA rescue worker first phoned to say they had found Salem. The pet had vanished less than two months after the mum had taken her in from a rescue centre in 1999 as a pet for her daughter. “Chloe was heartbroken at the time,” recalled Karen. ‘‘We’d only had her for a few weeks when she went missing, but she absolutely adored her. Salem had just slipped out the front door one day and ran off.
“I don’t even remember getting her chipped, but we must have done as that’s how the RSPCA found us. I couldn’t believe it when we got the call to say she had been found. I thought it was a joke at first, as we’d forgotten all about her. We rushed over to the pet store on Christmas Eve and spent £100 on litter trays and food.” The mum-of-three brought the prodigal cat home and showed her to an unsuspecting Chloe. The college student said: “Mum asked me who I thought the cat was. I thought I recognised her as Salem, but I didn’t want to say as it seemed stupid because I thought there was no way it could be her. I was only little when we had her and we named her Salem after the talking cat on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. It was my favourite TV show at the time. I remember feeling awful when she ran away. But now she’s back I am so happy – it’s just amazing.”
Where Salem has been living for the last 12 years is set to remain a mystery, but she was handed in to the RSPCA by an anonymous pensioner who had been feeding her. Karen said: “When the RSPCA called they said Salem may have been a stray all that time, so I was a bit worried. But as soon as I saw her she looked in really good condition. “Someone must have been looking after her for all these years – she’s completely house trained.” Hannah Ross, an RSPCA veterinary nurse who treated Salem, said: “This is the longest time period we’ve seen when reuniting pets and their owners.”