STOW — If you would have asked Lori Croghan before last week what happened to her Maine coon cat, Quill, who got out of her house five years ago, she would have been pretty sure of her answer.
"We thought maybe he met his unfortunate demise," said Croghan, who lives on a street just off busy Darrow Road in Stow.
But against the odds — and the heavy traffic on nearby Darrow and Graham roads — Quill was found more than a mile away and came home last week.
The Croghan family adopted Quill from Akron’s One of a Kind Pets five years ago. Croghan said the family loves Maine coons, and Quill "was just beautiful."
Quill, who used to be called Nibbles by his previous owner who passed away, was used to living with only one other human. The Croghan family was a big change, with kids, dogs and cats, including foster animals from One of a Kind Pets.
"He was shy, and he was just starting to come out of his shell," Croghan said of Quill, named after the "Guardians of the Galaxy" character.
The family only had Quill about six months when he got out of the house. Quill was microchipped when he came home from One of a Kind Pets, but despite Croghan posting in local missing pet groups on social media, there were no sightings of Quill for the five years he was missing. Croghan thinks that means someone likely took Quill in and was caring for him.
Canton teacher Jennifer Albrecht, who lives more than a mile away from Croghan’s home in Stow, noticed a cat hanging around her patio at the end of May this year. Albrecht, who feeds other stray cats in the area, started calling the cat Suzy Q, thinking the affectionate, friendly cat who always wanted head scratches was female.
"If I was sitting out there reading, he would jump up in my lap and sit in my lap," said Albrecht, who has two cats of her own and three guinea pigs.
Although the cat appeared to be in decent shape physically, his fur felt dirty, and he was hungry all the time. Eventually, Albrecht decided to schedule an appointment at Stow Kent Animal Hospital, where she’s taken her pets for 40 years, to check the cat’s health, age and gender — and check for a microchip.
"I was really hoping for a happy ending, that the owner was still around and was missing the cat and wanted the cat," she said.
When Croghan got the call from the animal hospital after the appointment last Tuesday, she was confused. The hospital was asking her about a cat named Nibbles, Quill’s old name, which was what was still on his microchip. She also has a cat named Nugget, so she thought the caller was mispronouncing Nugget’s name.
But during the phone call that quickly turned teary, Croghan asked if the cat was a Maine coon. She was shocked to realize it was the long-lost Quill.
As soon as she got off work as a home health aide, she drove to the animal hospital that day for a reunion. Croghan wasn’t sure if Quill would recognize her after so many years, but she was surprised at how calm he was when the staff brought him out. He curled up in her arms.
"You can't believe that first of all that he's still alive and that after all this time that somehow he found a way or a place that took care of him where he survived," she said.