A Kansas woman is getting ready to reunite with her lost cat after a decade apart, and to her, she said the events that have transpired since Aug. 19 have all felt "surreal."
Carol Holmes told "Good Morning America" she had adopted a cat she named Bob about 10 years ago from the Kansas Humane Society, when he was about a year old. The Wichita resident said she only had him for about three to four months before he went missing.
"He loved going outdoors in my backyard patio garden area with my two other male cats … and he would always come home with [them], but one day he did not," Holmes, 68, recalled.
Holmes said she tried to track Bob down for a while by searching for him in person, putting up flyers and posting online, but "there was absolutely no response."
"As time went along, I just kind of reconciled myself to the fact that the only way I would get him back is if somebody had him scanned for his chip or took him to the shelter. But that never happened," she said.
That was the case until about two weeks ago, when Holmes said she was reminiscing about her late father Bob Stevens on what would have been his 94th birthday.
"I had named Bob [the cat] after my father Bob," Holmes explained, adding that both her cat and her father were "sensitive" and "loving," and even shared a "spicy" personality. "I guess I did it to honor my dad -- [at the time], I felt like we were going to lose him. He actually got to meet Bob the cat before [he died]."
In what Holmes described as an "incredible" coincidence, she learned that Bob the cat had finally been found, after all these years, over 1,200 miles away in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.
"I went to my email account and was scrolling down and I saw two messages from the [micro]chip provider [24Petwatch], which is the company I use for my animals," Holmes recounted. "They said they had found my cat Bob … and to contact Kelsea [Eure] at 5-Points, [an animal] hospital in North Carolina. And my first thought was, 'This must be a mistake,' because Bob had been gone for so long."
"But I called her and she said, 'Yes, it is Bob.' And she told me what had happened," Holmes continued.
Eure, a client service representative at 5-Points Animal Hospital in Fuquay-Varina, told "GMA", "We got a phone call on Aug. 19. A person found the cat on his porch and he asked if he could bring him in to check the microchip. And he came in that Saturday and we scanned him and he was microchipped to Ms. Carol, so we tried to touch base with her."
The person who found Bob the cat asked to remain anonymous. Holmes confirmed she has been in contact with them to arrange Bob's imminent return home.
"When I saw the photos [from the anonymous finder], I knew immediately. The first photo of [Bob] on the porch where he's got his head kind of down, I knew that was him," Holmes said.
Holmes said learning that Bob had been found on a day that's so special to her and her family had been hard to believe.
"I feel like it's a heaven-sent message, to be honest. I really do. It's just so uncanny this happened on my dad's birthday, 10 years [after Bob the cat went missing]," Holmes said. "I've had some really tough times and I feel like it was just a blessing to have this happen. … It's just like full circle. I really feel that and so many people think that it definitely is like a form of divine intervention, a message from Dad."
Holmes said she is now working to partner with a nonprofit to help her get Bob home across state lines. She said she hopes Bob's story can raise awareness about the importance of having pets registered and microchipped.
"It's just so important to not give up hope and to have your beloved furry family members microchipped so that [reunions] can happen," Holmes said. "This is how people are reunited with their animals."
As for Bob the cat, Holmes said she's looking forward to welcoming him home and re-introducing him to all of her other pets, which include four dogs and multiple cats.
"When I see Bob, the first thing I will do is pat him and talk sweetly to him and let him know how much I love him and that I've never forgotten him," she said. "Then of course, if he'll let me, I'll hold him and cuddle him. And I won't let him out of the house."