A cat named Master Sox has been found eight months after he vanished from his Adelaide home.
But there’s just one problem – he’s 400 kilometres away in Mildura, over the Victorian border.
HOW DID HE END UP IN MILDURA?
The seven-year-old cat was caught in a trap this week set up by the vet in the regional city, in the state’s northwest, after someone saw him wandering around a yard for a number of days.
Sophie McInnes and her parents, Carol and Jamie, had all but given up hope after the “cheeky” pet didn’t show up for dinner one night in January at their home in Glenelg South.
The family still have the cat’s mum who they fostered when she was pregnant and decided to keep Soxies, as he’s affectionately known, out of her litter of six.
“All of a sudden, we couldn’t find him,” Ms McInnes told news.com.au on Friday.
“He’s the friendliest cat, comes in, says hello, meow meow.
“We thought it was strange because he would always come to you.”
They searched the streets, went doorknocking, put up posters and scanned Facebook groups for lost pets, spurred on by one woman who found her pet after it was missing for four years.
Ms McInnes made countless trips around the suburb but by April, they thought the worst.
“He’s gone and not coming back,” she recounted.
She said she would answer calls from private numbers just in case someone had found him.
Eventually, “the microchip saved him”.
“Eight months later, we get a call and he’s in a different state,” Ms McInnes said.
“My mum rang me, she was in tears, and I could heard my dad crying in the background.
“She said: ‘They’ve got Sox.’
“I said: ‘What do you mean? Who?’ Mildura vet?
“It was crazy. Now it’s getting him back.”
THE RESCUE MISSION
Ms McInnes said Sox must have been pinched.
“There is no way that a cat could’ve walked that far unless he’s a little Superman cat,” she told news.com.au.
“He had to have been taken and dumped because the condition he was found in, he wasn’t looked after.
“He was skinny, he has an abscess on his right paw, he’s really frightened and very alert.”
However, the vet called on Thursday to say “he’s purring now” and – like many of us in COVID-19 lockdown – Sox has put on heaps of weight.
“We don’t know his story,” Ms McInnes said.
“I wish he could talk.”
But the find has been “bittersweet” because now the family are faced with a “waiting game” as the border between South Australia and Victoria holds firm.
“We can’t get him back,” Ms McInnes said.
“People aren’t even able to get to see their dying relatives across the border, or go to funerals, how are we supposed to get a little cat back?”
She said they have been peppered with suggestions to call police or border control but they are “not saying anything”.
There is the option of a courier but it’s expensive, requires insurance and comes with its risks.
“We’re not in a position to fork out money with coronavirus,” Ms McInnes said.
“We’re not confident of him being safe in a courier. I’ve heard a lot of courier dramas with animals.
“The vet is trying to see if they are able to drive to the border and we go down to the border, at Renmark or Yamba, and we just do a quick swap but you also have to do so much paperwork.”
Since August 28, a 40km “travel buffer zone” has been in place for cross border communities in Victoria and South Australia.
Ms McInnes said the “most logical plan” seems to be to pay for him to be boarded in Victoria until it reopens.
“But again, that’s a lot of money, every day hundreds of dollars,” she said.
“Who knows when the border is going to open?
“Tomorrow, two years, three months? No one knows.”
Ms McInnes said they are giving the Mildura vet “a bit of money just to keep him there”.
“They understand the situation and feeding him so he’s covered on that end,” she said.
“We just really want him home because eight months is a long time.”
Whatever the outcome, she said she will be driving straight to the border with her parents when she can.
“Mum and dad will be in the car crying,” she said.
“I just want to see him, I hope he jumps in our arms. I want a cuddle from our little lion.”
Ms McInnes said her mum is urging people to check their microchip details are up-to-date as her phone number had changed.