DANBURY, CONNECTICUT — For almost three years, Billy, a 16-year old stray cat that was rescued and nursed back to health by staff at Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital, has been a greeter of other animals who arrive there.
Over the same time period, Elena Sicconi, 28, of Danbury, was mourning the loss of her cat Batuffolo, or “Tuffo for short,” who one day, just failed to return home during the summer of 2013.
When Sicconi’s father and sister entered Noah’s Ark recently because their regular veterinarian and an alternative were both booked, they discovered that Billy and Tuffo are the exact same cat.
“It’s amazing,” Sicconi said. “I can’t even believe it’s true.”
Sicconi’s family got Tuffo and his twin brother, Cotone, back in 2000.
She took the cats with her when she moved to her own place about three years ago. After a few weeks at her new home, she began reintroducing her cats to the outdoors. On Aug. 5, 2013, Tuffo never came returned home.
“We looked for him for a really long time and kept hope,” Sicconi claims.
In November 2013, Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital received an anonymous call to check the hospital’s own parking lot. The staff found an old yellow cat, weighing only about 7 pounds, who was in a carrier. They discovered he was full of fleas, had internal parasites and also an infected paw. He was also anemic and in stage-two kidney failure, according to Rachel Keyes, assistant to Dr. Jeffrey Hubsher at Noah’s Ark.
“We nursed him back to health and made him the office cat,” Keyes said. “Everyone fell in love with him.”
The staff named the cat Billy and let him have free rein of the entire office.
When they walked in to the office last month, Sicconi’s father noticed the cat and mentioned something to Sicconi’s sister about how it looked just like Tuffo.
“He’s said that before, so she brushed him off,” Sicconi said.
But when the cat jumped on the counter and meowed, something Tuffo would have done, Sicconi’s sister began to consider the very realistic possibility this could be the family’s lost cat.
She and the staff began discussing his unusual characteristics, including how he uses his paw to take drinks of water. Sicconi was called to come look at the cat while she was on her lunch break.
“I was bawling,” she said, recalling the moment she saw him again. “He was my best friend.”
She ran home and brought back the cat’s elderly twin, Cotone, confirming the connection that Billy was in fact Tuffo.
“You could tell immediately that Billy recognized them and immediately recognized the other cat,” Keyes stated.
Keyes said the family also had Tuffo’s records and pictures, which perfectly matched Billy.
Sicconi said she is so thankful to the hospital’s staff for everything they have done for Tuffo.
She’s shared pictures and videos with the staff of the reunited brothers playing together, and recently brought in mugs with pictures of the two cats on them.
“We all really miss Billy and would like Billy to come back, but we’re obviously happy Billy found his home and his brother,” Reyes went on to say.
“It’s nice that after three years, Billy has found his rightful home.”