In 2016, Mustafa Javed and his family experienced every pet owner’s nightmare – their beloved cat Raffael, or ‘Raffi’ for short, disappeared without a trace. Despite months and years of searching, the black and white cat could not be found, and the family eventually gave up hope, assuming that he had passed away. However, in January 2021, their luck changed. An RSPCA inspector, Rachel Henderson, responded to a call concerning an injured cat that had been found in a garden in Longsight. When Rachel scanned the cat for a microchip, to her amazement she found that it was Raffi, registered to the Javeds’ home just five miles away.
The family were overjoyed at being reunited with their furry friend after seven long years. They had adopted Raffi as a young adult cat, and Mustafa’s three children, Maryam, Ibraheem, and Khadeeja, were devastated when he first went missing. “He was a clever cat, he wasn’t the sort that would just wander off, he always stayed near the house, so it was the pain of not knowing what had happened to him that was the worst part,” said Mr Javed. Despite the cold weather, the family searched tirelessly, setting up Facebook groups and going door-to-door in search of their missing pet.
The Javeds believe that Raffi may have climbed into one of their cars and then got out, unseen, at the other end, perhaps ending up at the garage owned by the family. It appears that Raffi has been living as a stray ever since, surviving on his wits and street smarts. When Rachel found him, he had an abscess on his back, but he was treated and returned to the Javeds’ home in Old Trafford to a warm welcome.
The Javeds’ story is an excellent example of why pet owners should consider getting their animals microchipped. Microchipping is a reliable way of ensuring that lost, injured, or stolen pets are more easily reunified with their owners. “More often than not when I pick up a stray cat, the animal isn’t microchipped, which is very frustrating, especially when you suspect the cat is owned and is probably someone’s much loved pet and you want to be able to return them home,” said Rachel.
The RSPCA has repeatedly called for the compulsory microchipping of cats in England as part of the government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, a move that the charity fully supports. Microchipping is a simple and effective way to ensure that lost pets are returned to their owners and that animals are kept off the streets.
Raffi’s return has been an emotional time for the family, especially given that he had such a strong bond with Mr Javed’s grandfather. The grandfather died five years after Raffi went missing, on the anniversary of his passing. Raffi, affectionately known as ‘Bobtail’ in the local area, has also gotten to know Marshmallow, another cat the family adopted four years after Raffi disappeared.
“We wish Raffi could talk and tell us his story. When we picked him up from the animal hospital he looked at us and it was as if to say ‘where have you been all these years?’ We get the feeling he knows where he is and it’s amazing he’s safe, he’s well, he’s back, and we get a chance to have him with us again,” said Mr Javed.
For those who have experienced the pain of a missing pet, Raffi’s story is a reminder to never give up hope and to continue searching for your furry friend. It is equally a reminder of the importance of microchipping and ensuring that pets are safely returned to their families.