Northern Ireland

Co Down cat found in Connemara after four years missing likely “hitched” a ride, or two, to end up so far from home

Mind-boggling cat found after so many years and so far from home, says head of pet rescue group

Hannah Smyth back with Blueberry, missing more than three years
Hannah Smyth back with Blueberry, missing more than three years. Facebook

If only cats could talk, Blueberry likely could regale with some tales after going missing from north Down - then turning up in Connemara in the west of Ireland more than four years later.

The Smyth family from Bangor never believed they would see their now near 10-year-old after he went missing in November 2019.

Then they received a call from a vet in Moycullen outside Galway city to tell the Smyths: “We have your Blueberry.”

Hannah hugs Blueberry after she was reunited with the many years missing cat
Hannah hugs Blueberry after she was reunited with the many years missing cat. Facebook

On how Blueberry ended up more than 200 miles from where he went missing, “the mind boggles,” said Libby Porter, who heads a pet rescue and rehoming group in north Down.

“I have never, ever, heard of a cat being found after that length of time and distance, definitely, definitely not,” added Libby, who was happy to update an initial Facebook post reporting Blueberry had been lost but was now found.

“If only he could talk,” she said.

Owner Hannah Smyth did hint at the likeliest possibility as she revealed he was “prone to jumping into vans or cars”.

Libby, who runs Lost and Found Pets North Down and Ards, said there is little likelihood Blueberry managed his epic journey “without hitching a ride”, or maybe two, along the way.

“I would not imagine so. He would not travel too far and he is neutered male so that cuts down further the possibility as he would not be searching a mate.

Original missing poster appealing for information about Blueberry, from November 2019
Original missing poster from November 2019

“But the mind boggles. All things are possible but it is likely we will never get to the bottom of what really happened.”

Blueberry was living as a stray on the streets of Moycullen, about seven miles north of Galway city. Then a resident noticed he was looking ill and took him to Moycullen Veterinary Clinic.

“He was very unwell when the man brought him in, he had cat flu, the poor thing,” Hannah told The Belfast Telegraph.

“But the vet knew he was lost as he was microchipped.”

An initial search of Ireland’s cat database turned up no matches. Then the vet tried Europetnet, which covers 26 European countries and found the north Down match.

“We had just accepted that was it and he was gone, but then my mum received a call from someone down south, she normaly wouldn’t get calls like that so she answered it and they said, ‘We have your Blueberry’,” Hannah said.

“She couldn’t believe it, we all thought there was no way it was possible.”

“It goes to show the importance of having a microchip,” added Libby.

Cats Protection, a UK-wide organisation, said it does happen that cats turn up many many miles from home and after many years. A cat was recently reunited after nine years while one from Norfolk was found in Scotland.

“They have a habit of jumping in cosy removal vans and falling asleep etc - so it does happen, yes,” said Marcus Agar of Cats Protection.