Yeppoon family cat missing for a year found 600km away
ALMOST a year after he went missing, Khesan Horvat had almost given up hope of hugging her beloved cat again.
The posters had been pulled down, her endless calls to pounds and animal rescue groups had proved fruitless and time was running out as her family prepared to move house.
But just a week from their move, already postponed once with the dying hope Bludger would make his way home, Khesan got the news she had been waiting to hear.
Her cat was alive. However, he was hundreds of kilometres away, rescued by a Sunshine Coast-based animal welfare group.
Bludger was the runt of his litter, the kitten no one wanted.
The Yeppoon mum came to the rescue, adopting Bludger from her friend and the Maine coon, cross tabby immediately became part of the family.
"He was just absolutely placid and calm," Khesan said.
"He let the kids carry him around. He was so content with being inside.
"He was just a really happy, cuddly, affectionate cat with no worries in the world.
"You'd talk to him and he'd chat back, just a really, really beautifully natured cat.
"We fell in love with him. He was like my third child."
Looking back, Khesan admits she was complacent about microchipping Bludger, because she thought he'd never get out.
Bludger was about 11 months old when he "just kind of vanished".
Luckily, Khesan found him within four days and scared by his first disappearance, booked an appointment with the vet straight away.
The family's luck ran out however, when Bludger went missing again just days before he was due to be microchipped.
Khesan and her family started a desperate search, which would last for 11 months.
"I looked outside, checking in the gutters, I crawled through drains," she said.
"Everyone in my neighbourhood knew who I was. I posted all over Facebook and Yeppoon Families and everyone was looking, everyone was doing flyers, everyone was keeping an eye out and he was just nowhere."
Four months in and people started to give up hope. Posters started to disappear, replaced by other lost pets, and his details were being deleted from the pound.
Facebook group, Yeppoon Families continued to bump Khesan's posts and keep Bludger in people's minds, but he was still nowhere to be found.
"I viewed probably about 20 cats that were similar, but none were him," she said.
"It was an endless search."
Almost a year on, Bludger suddenly popped up in Khesan's timeline in a Rockhampton Pound post.
Although Khesan rang them straight away, she was told the cat had already been rescued, but couldn't give any more information.
Khesan was resigned to the fact there would be little she could do if a new owner had fallen in love with Bludger, but wanted to know he was safe and cared for.
A few days later, Khesan put another post in Yeppoon Families asking if anyone could help her track down the rescue group who may have rescued Bludger.
Local groups got in touch with her and suggested Bludger may have been adopted by a Yandina-run group.
Khesan said she "basically begged" the group to check if they had Bludger with them and was sent some photos of cats picked up from Rockhampton.
He wasn't among them, but Khesan was told there was one more cat, not included in the photos.
When she was sent a video of that cat the following day, Khesan immediately knew it was Bludger.
She drove with her children to the Sunshine Coast the next day and was immediately greeted by the cat she thought she'd never see again.
"We live in such a beautiful community that everyone was so willing to help," she said.
Without dozens of people helping online, Khesan is sure she would never have been reunited with Bludger.
"The chances were thin and everyone knew it, and I sadly knew it," she said.
"We were just about to move ... so we postponed our move for a couple of months.
"We move next week, so I am just so grateful he is home.
"Whatever he did for the past year and whoever looked after him and kept him going, wherever that may have been, I am very, very, very grateful."
But the family's chance to reunite with Bludger may not have just been down to luck and community support, but also a hefty dose of good karma.
While looking for her own cat, Khesan took in a number of strays and reunited several with their owners, a bittersweet experience when all she wanted was to cuddle her own cat again.
"The biggest thing I could ever tell anyone is don't do what I did," she said.
"I didn't microchip and that would be one of my biggest regrets because I didn't think he would ever get out because he was always an indoor cat.
"When they are out and you can't find them and they're not microchipped, it's near impossible to pick where they went or might go or have been put down."