The mystery of Ozzie, the country-hopping cat

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A genuine ‘feline mystery’ has been captivating cat lovers around the world: Ozzie, the cosmopolitan cat, has captured international interest thanks to an apparent, extraordinary journey that spanned two continents, Europe and Australia.

An incredible story

Ownerless, ancient (his chip showed he was at least 25 years old) and seemingly far from home was all that was known about Ozzie the ginger cat. Found in County Armagh, Ireland earlier this month, Ozzie (so named by the rescue team after discovering his surprising home country) was picked up by animal welfare officers from Armagh Cats Protection after a member of the public became concerned about the health of a cat that had been hanging around their garden, its new preferred territory, for several days.

Ozzie the cat: 26 years ‘on the road’?

The poorly cat was taken to the Willow Veterinary Clinic in Portadown to have a check-up. There, the rescuers made a surprising discovery: the animal’s microchip showed that the cat was from Australia. The chip also revealed that he was born in 1989, making him at least 25 years old, there was also a record that the cat had been scanned at a veterinary clinic in London in 2004 – so the mystery as to how the cat travelled all the way from Australia to London and then on to Ireland deepened.

During his stay at Armagh’s Cats Protection centre, Ozzie not only received his new nickname, food and much needed veterinary care (for kidney failure); the team at the centre also set out to track down Ozzie’s true owners. Gillian McMullen, Cats Protection Coordinator, spoke to The Belfast Telegraph: “We have been in touch with the Australian Animal Register and have our fingers and paws crossed on word from them on this cat.”

Mystery solved

Good luck was certainly on the side of the feline, which according to initial theories could not be less than 25-years-old, an almost unattainable age for a cat that has an average lifespan of 13-15 years. In reality, the mystery cat was well off the milestone reached by the world’s oldest cat Tiffany Two, who passed away recently at the impressive age of 27 years old. Ozzie’s owners had been tracked down in Australia and were able to shed some light on the enigma. It turns out Ozzie, whose true name is Tigger, is a much-loved family pet; he had travelled to Australia several times with the family using a pet passport, which was updated in 2004 (thus the reason he was scanned in London in 2004). On this particular trip, the family had left Tigger in the care of some friends in Armagh, but the adventurous pet had run away and hadn’t returned. The family also confirmed that Tigger was actually born in 1999, not 1989 as previous thought.

A Facebook post from the Armagh Cats Protection, reads: “We have found Ozzie’s owners and part of the mystery has been solved. He is a much-loved pet called Tigger who has travelled back and forth from Australia with his own passport and as part of a loving family. The Australian Animal Registry recorded his microchip details incorrectly. His date of birth is Dec 1999.”

It is hoped Tigger (Ozzie) will now be reunited with his owners.

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