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Friday, December 30, 2005

Cat and owner reunited after three years

Victoria E. Freile
Staff writer

(December 30, 2005) — When Mike Smith's cat skittered out the back door of his Rochester home more than three years ago, Smith was distraught.

For months, Smith, 45, of Rochester, posted ads and asked neighbors if they'd seen his missing Maine coon. Ted didn't return.

Smith later moved to a new house in Rochester, but said he never gave up hope.

And last month, Smith and Ted were reunited in the parking lot at Stoneridge Plaza in Greece.

"I knew it was him without a question in my mind," Smith said. "He was battered and dirty. But one look at his face and I knew."

The two celebrated their first Christmas together in more than three years. Smith admitted that he planned to spoil his feline friend this holiday season.

"What a blessed reunion," said his friend Ann Cottone, 69, of Greece, who's well known in Greece for rescuing and assisting stray cats. "It's unbelievable."

In mid-November, a woman brought Cottone a friendly, but skinny, black stray that had been trying to jump into stopped cars along Lake Avenue.

Cottone remembered that her friend lost his black cat several years earlier but didn't make a connection because she thought the stray was a pregnant female. After consulting a veterinarian, Cottone knew the cat was male.

She phoned Smith and he asked her to call the cat by name. She did. Ted looked up and mewed, she said. "I knew it was my cat," Smith said.

Ted, who was 32 pounds when he disappeared in August 2002, now weighs about 7 pounds, Smith said.

Ted has barely left his side, Smith said. He sits on Smith's lap as he works on the computer and each night sleeps next to Smith, at the head of his bed.

Often, Ted pulls his signature move — he sits on Smith's lap, puts his paws around his neck and licks and nuzzles Smith's chin.

"After three years on the street, I never would've believed that someone could be reunited with a pet," he said. "I tell him every day never to leave again."

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