California Cat, Missing for 8 years, Reunites with Her Knoxville Owners

California Cat, Missing for 8 years, Reunites with Her Knoxville Owners

Ebi, an 8-year-old short-haired cat, traveled more than 2000 miles by car and plane to reunite with her Knoxville owners after going missing for almost 8 years. What an incredible journey!

All thanks to Chief John Welsh of Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

Unfortunately, most cats taken to animal service centers do not get a chance to reunite with their owners. But John Welsh traveled from Southern California to Knoxville to reunite a cat with its grateful owner Joe Drnec.

"We like getting animals back to their rightful owners, even if they tend to be half the country away, or more than half the country away," Welsh told WATE about helping Ebi the cat get back to her family.

In early 2015, Ebi got lost while wandering and never returned home. Later that year, Drnecs relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Joe Drnec said he received a call recently from an animal shelter in Jurupa Valley, California, that left him stunned.

It informed him that his beloved cat Ebi who got lost and never returned home when Drnec lived in California in 2015, had been found and is on her way to Tennessee for a reunion.

It all started when Ebi, a short-haired tabby, was picked up as a stray by a Good Samaritan who found her on Lemon Street in downtown Riverside. Officials said it's not far from where she first went missing from the Drnec family in 2015. (Cat Lost in 2015 Is Reunited With Owners 2000 Miles Away, 2022)

The California Cat was then immediately brought to Riverside County Animal Services.

Thanks to Ebi's microchip, which helped the shelter track down her owner three time zones away in Knoxville, where the family moved in 2015, just a few months after Ebi had disappeared.

Drnecs moved to Tennessee with their Calico cat, Eunice, now 14 years old.

According to Welsh, "someone brought Ebi to the shelter, and through Ebi's microchip, Welsh and his team found the Drnecs." (Wenger, 2022)

In a Facebook Post, Riverside County Animal Services wrote, "An employee scanned the cat for a microchip, and the scanner beeped. A hit!"

The Story of Ebi and Her Family

Joe Drnec's statements regarding his missing cat showed how much he and his family missed their little Ebi. (Cat Lost in 2015 Is Reunited With Owners 2000 Miles Away, 2022)

According to a Facebook post from Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center, the nonprofit shelter the Drencs adopted Ebi from while living in California. "Ebi was just 3 months old at that time", they wrote.

The California Cat's name, pronounced as ebb-ee, is a Japanese word that means shrimp.

Ebi was an indoor cat; the Drnecs eventually let her explore beyond the front door as she became increasingly curious about the outside world.

In a video posted on Twitter by RivCO animal services, Drnec said, "She was primarily an indoor cat."

"But she just went crazy at the door, always wanting to go outside. We allowed it, but my wife always supervised her," as said by Joe in a video posted by Riverside County Animal Services on social media platforms.

"She eventually was an indoor-outdoor cat. But one day, she did not come back," he added.

Joe Drnec and his wife Leanna, now living in the West Knoxville community of Bearden, admitted that it was quite a surprise to get that phone call.

"It brought my whole family to tears," he told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

According to Riverside County Animal Services, Drnec said, "We never thought we would ever see her again. This is really an amazing story."

Joe and his family said they prayed and hoped that Ebi found a good home.

Joe reported, "that's kind of what we thought in the back of our minds, she must have found a good home." Adding, "I think that's what people do just to kind of cope with it."

Reuniting Ebi with her Family

"A cat at the county shelter in Jurupa Valley is taking a trip on Wednesday morning (Feb 16) to Tennessee", reported by Riverside County Animal Services reported, On Tuesday, Feb 15, 2022.

Chief John Welsh explained, "It took us some time to figure out what we're going to do, how to get this cat back to Knoxville. The logistics were basically me asking my wife, 'Can I do this?"

Ebi and her human companion Welsh flew out of Ontario International Airport at approximately 6 a.m. on Wednesday. The duo landed in Nashville and traveled to Knoxville by car for the big reunion. (Wenger, 2022)

A very sweet video of staffer Harmony comforting Ebi before her trek to Knoxville was seen on Twitter.

A personal donation by Welsh paid for the trip along with some help from the Animal Solutions Konnection (ASK) Foundation.

When Welsh walked Ebi through the door of Bearden Bike & Trail, where Drnec works, she was extremely calm. Perhaps she refused to get out of her carrier bag and poked her head out curiously a few times. (Cat Lost in 2015 Is Reunited With Owners 2000 Miles Away, 2022)

Once Leanna Drnec laid eyes on Ebi she hummed and said, " Awww, baby, Wow, she's so much bigger!"

Get Your Pets Microchipped

Chief John Welsh hopes that the California Cat's story inspires owners to chip their pets.

Knox News reported, Welsh stating, "I am using my personal time and money for this trek in the interest of promoting microchips and pet reunions. It's not something we could do every day, obviously." Chief Welsh added, "But this was important because ... it's a good way to promote microchipping, particularly for cats."

He mentioned that, statistically, less than 2 % of all impounded cats are reunited with their rightful owners, making Ebi a very rare and special case.

A final heartwarming comment that came from Welsh, "My wife and I, we don't have children." With a saddened voice, he continued, "We just lost our cat recently, and that was hard for us, and I know how much cats mean to people.  "So it was money very well spent.”


(n.d.). Riverside County Department of Animal Services - Home Page. Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://www.rcdas.org/ ; Cat lost in 2015 is reunited with owners 2000 miles away. (2022, February 17). YouTube. Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsqKutZuTAw ; Lost in California for a whopping 7 years, Ebi the cat reunited with her Tennessee owners. (2022, February 17). Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/2022/02/17/lost-california-8-years-cat-reunited-knoxville-owner/6811839001/ ; Wenger, S. (2022, February 17). California Cat Missing for 7 Years Reunites with Owner 2000 Miles Away in Tennessee. People. Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://people.com/pets/california-cat-missing-for-7-years-reunites-with-owner-in-tennessee/