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When this Pennsylvania woman’s cat went missing, she thought that she would never find her furry friend again. Fast forward five years and the pair finally had an emotional reunion.

In December 2017, Sambia Shivers-Barclay was on her way to Michigan to spend the holidays with her family. When she stopped to get a snack, her cat Barack escaped.

“We stopped to get snacks and we had Barack in the car,” Shivers-Barclay told Newsweek. “My daughter was petting him so the crate was open and we didn’t think about it. As we opened the car door to get out, he ran out of the crate and jumped out of the car.”

She said that in the beginning, she wasn’t too worried because Barack usually came back when they called him. However, something must have spooked him and he ran into some nearby woods.

“I just thought, this is not happening,” said Shivers-Barclay. “We stayed for hours looking for him and it was getting darker so I knew we had to go because we had seven hours more to drive.”

Shivers-Barclay told the outlet that when they finally arrived in Michigan, she couldn’t stop crying.

“I cried the entire Christmas,” she said. “The day after Christmas I apologized to my parents and said I’ve got to go, to get back to Pennsylvania and see if I can find Barack.”

When she got back to Pennsylvania, she checked into a hotel just as a huge storm began to roll through. When they woke up with several feet of snow, she knew they had to leave and get home.

“I left his crate,” she said. “So at least if he smelled himself he would go to it. I asked the people at the gas station to check the crate and let me know if they saw him.”

For the next several months, she did the journey frmo Maryland to Pennsylvania on most weekends asking people if they had seen Barack and trying to find him.

At one point in her journey of trying to find Barack, she got a call that he was possibly found. She drove eight hours to see if it was really him.

“I held the cat, peeled back the tail and it was a girl,” she said. “The husband starts screaming, ‘Oh my god you’ve had this woman drive eight hours and you didn’t even check to see if it was a girl.’

“She was crying, I was crying—we’re all crying. I said I’ve got to go and asked what they were going to do with the cat,” she explained.

The family apparently already had seven cats so they weren’t sure so Shivers-Barclay decided to take the Barack look-alike home and aptly named her Michelle.

“I got her home and took her to the vet to be checked out and be microchipped and they told me she had FeLV.”

Most cats that are infected with FeLV or feline leukemia virus die within three years of diagnosis. The vet told her taht she was not going to live but she decided that Michelle would live out the rest of her life with her family. Michelle lived for three more years and Shivers-Barclay admitted that she had started to lose hope of finding Barack.

That is until recently when Shivers-Barclay received a call that Barack was found.

“They said, ‘would you happen to have a cat named Barack?’ I said I had a cat, but he’s been gone for five years,” she said. “That’s when they said no, he’s right here.”

Newsweek reported that three weeks prior to the call, Barack had turned up at a farm 40 minutes away from where he went missing. They scanned his microchip and found that he was registered to the Shivers-Barclay.

She jumped in the car and took the nine-and-a-half-hour round trip journey to get her cat from the Ninth Life rescue center in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

“I don’t know his story other than that she showed up three weeks ago at the farm, covered in fleas and ticks,” said Shivers-Barclay.

Barack is so happy to be back with his family and he is reportedly overly affectionate.

“If I’m around him, he immediately leaps into my arms and he likes to snuggle under my neck. He has shown me 100 percent that he remembers me.”

Shivers-Barclay told Newsweek that she wants to remind people of the importance of microchipping your pet.

“You never know when disaster might strike,” she said. “You never know when you might be unexpectedly separated from your animal. If your pet is chipped, that increases the likelihood of them being able to find you and you being able to find them. It works.”

Want more adorable content: check out this Lost Dog Reunited with Owner After Three Years Can’t Contain Her Excitement! [Video]!

We encourage everyone thinking of getting a pet to only adopt instead of shopping. Read more resources about adopting animals on One Green Planet, including 7 Reasons to Adopt Your Next Furry Best Friend5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Adopt a Pet, and These Heartwarming Before and After Pictures of Adopted Rescue Animals Will Make Your Day! Read tips for pet adoptions and what to consider before adopting an animal. We recommend using these apps to find shelter dogs near you!

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