The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO
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February 06, 2017 03:05 PM

Sometimes we need an extended vacation. James’ vacation happened to last 15 years longer than expected.

The tortoiseshell feline went missing shortly after her family’s move from Kula to Makawao, Hawaii. Just two months after arriving at the new home, the indoor/outdoor kitty, who was named before her owners realized she was a female, failed to return home one night.

“My kids had been looking for her at least a month or two months,” James’ owner Tori Takayesu told mauinews.com. “They were really sad. She didn’t come back. We couldn’t find her anywhere. We didn’t know what happened to her.”

So when Takayesu received a call from the Maui Humane Society about her calico cat, the pet parent, who currently cares for four Miniature Pinschers, was confused.

“All of a sudden, I remembered her,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I just never thought, after all these years, that she would come back to me.”

The shelter contacted Takayesu when they found her phone number tattooed inside the cat’s ear, an identifying mark the shelter left when it spayed James in 2001.

The stunned mom immediately called her son Trevor Hamilton, who named James after one of his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine characters, to share the good news. Trevor, now grown and stationed at Travis Air Force Base, was just as surprised to hear about his old buddy’s return.

After getting the unbelievable call, Takayesu decided to wait a few days before claiming James, in case there was another family out there looking for her, heartsick to have lost their pet of 15 or so years.

Several days later, no one else had collected the tortoiseshell calico, so Takayesu arrived with a box to take the kitty back home.

“I really didn’t believe it until I laid eyes on her,” Takayesu said. “I did not believe this was my long-lost cat, that they would find her, that she would be in good shape, that she could come back to me. It’s crazy.”

Even after 15 years, Takayesu said the cat seems to remember her as well and has easily settled in with her former mom, though she is still unsure about her four canine roommates. For a senior feline with a 15 year gap in her history, James is impressively agile, healthy, affectionate and curious.

The family believes that James was living with someone else all these years or was living on the street, but was well-cared for by locals.

“We were just so happy. It’s just like having one of our children come back home,” Takayesu said. 

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