Lost Cat Reunites with Maryland Family After 16 Years Apart: 'I Didn't Think This Was Possible'

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missing cat
missing cat

A cat that went missing 16 years ago recently reunited with his family in Annapolis, Maryland.

In April, Ritz the cat's owners, Jason and Liz McKenry, received a shocking automated text message from the company behind Ritz's microchip, informing them that their long-lost cat — who bolted out of the couple's old apartment in 2006 — was at a local vet.

"I was like, 'Well, that's gotta be a mistake.' I mean, I'm thinking they recycled the microchip number," Jason told CBS News. "And she's upstairs, and she overhears me, and she goes, 'What did you just say?!'"

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"He's been gone for 16 years. I didn't think this was possible," his wife Liz added.

Sixteen years ago, the couple searched everywhere for Ritz — who was two years old when he went missing — but had no luck in their search.

"We spent months looking all around, talking to the shelters. Everything we could think of, we tried," Jason told WUSA.

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Liz added that she kept Ritz's "Lost Cat" poster to remember her beloved pet.

"It felt like if I deleted it, it never happened, and he'd be forgotten," Liz shared. "And I couldn't do that."

The text message that brought Ritz back into the McKenrys' lives came from an Annapolis vet, who met the cat and scanned him for a microchip after he was brought in as a stray. The woman who took Ritz to the veterinarian found the feline looking for food by a trailer park six miles from Liz and Jason's old apartment.

Ritz arrived at the vet suffering from a severe leg injury, and the woman who brought him in expected the cat would need to be euthanized. Luckily, the vet's microchip scan found Ritz's chip, which contained contact information for the McKenrys. The family happily agreed to take Ritz back home and help him heal, according to CBS News.

"I wish he could talk," Jason told USA Today. "I'd love to hear his story."

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Ritz now holds the record for the pet missing the longest before being found with the help of a microchip, according to CBS News.

"Sixteen years? That's a new record as far as I know," said Tom Sharp, president of AKC Reunite — a lost pet recovery service — told USA Today. "That's amazing."

Ritz is now recovering from his injuries, enjoying time in his favorite chair, and receiving plenty of attention from the McKenrys' children, who warmly welcomed the cat they just met for the first time, CBS News reports.