When Toby the cat's owners didn't want him anymore, they gave him to another family. But Toby thought perhaps there had been a mistake. The 7-year-old orange-and-white kitty took off and slowly made the 12-mile trek back to their house.
Toby's old family wasn't terribly thrilled to see him. In fact, they picked up Toby and brought him to the local shelter and asked that their loyal cat be put to sleep.
But don't worry — that didn't happen.
The shelter reached out to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County in Raleigh, North Carolina, and asked if they might have room for this faithful feline.
"The shelter called us at the SPCA to ask if we could take him in and help him find a new family. Of course we said YES!" the shelter posted on Facebook.
Here's a video of Toby when he was getting settled at the SPCA:
Unfortunately, shelter workers weren't shocked when they heard Toby's story.
"I’d like to say that it was surprising but unfortunately there are a lot of stories like Toby’s," Tara Lynn, communications manager for the SPCA of Wake County, tells MNN. "The animals may not necessarily walk 12 miles, but there are a lot of animals that are discarded without a second thought. We hear those stories all the time. We just don’t know their full stories."
Toby had a cold and tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus when he was brought in to she SPCA in February, but shelter staff took care of the sweet boy.
"He looked a little disheveled and he definitely needed a good brushing," says Lynn. "Otherwise, he was mostly happy and healthy."
While many people on social media angrily commented that the owners should never be allowed to own or adopt animals again, the SPCA used Toby's story to encourage people to donate so more animals like him can be saved.
They also used his amazing adventure to promote the shelter's annual fundraising walk.
"If you have an animal that is willing to try to save himself, we thought it would inspire people to maybe walk one mile to save many more animals," Lynn says.
The SPCA used Toby's story to inspire people to help other pets like him. (Photo: SPCA of Wake County/Facebook)
In addition to triggering donations and awareness, Toby's incredible adventure prompted a lot of people to share his story, hoping to find him a new home. And it worked.
On April 16, the shelter announced that this sweet boy had a perfect new family. He has two feline siblings and two human siblings, "and a cat-savvy mom to show him what a loving family is really like."
His new mom Michele, who lives near the SPCA in Raleigh, had heard about Toby from her sister in New Hampshire who saw a post on social media. She immediately rushed over to the SPCA and adopted him. Now Toby's team will be raising money for the place that found the loyal kitty a new home.
"We were thinking he would need to be an only cat because he was kind of feisty with some of his roommates but his mom says he’s gelled with his roommates at home," Lynn says.