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A Siamese cat has been returned to his owner, after going missing for nine years.
Dara Gerson had all but given up hope of her cat Vanilla ever returning. Gerson and her daughters searched for days when Vanilla first ran off, but after years it seemed unlikely that the cat was going to return. Gerson packed her bags, left her home in Sausalito, California and moved to Topanga.
Meanwhile, Vanilla had also found a new home six hours away, in Noe Valley. No one is sure how long the cat was in the man's care for and the man himself is unable to tell now, after being recently diagnosed with dementia.
After it was discovered that the man would have to move to the hospital, one of his caretakers called the San Francisco Animal Control fearing what would become of the cat.
"We don't know how he got Vanilla at all, but we took him into custody because his then owner wasn't able to take care of him," Kristen Hall, a worker with Animal Care and Control, told ABC News.
As it turned out, Vanilla had a microchip, which the man may have been unaware of.
"Whenever an animal comes in, we scan them for microchips. Vanilla had a microchip and it did not match up to the person he had been living with, which was the man that had been hospitalized. But it matched up to Dara, who had the same cellphone as all those years ago."
When Gerson received the call from Animal Control, she was happy to take Vanilla back.
"It was the best Christmas present our family got," Gerson told ABC. "We got a call from an officer at the animal control and asked if I was the owner of a cat named Vanilla. And I was like, 'Well, yeah, a really long time ago.' We were literally jumping around and screaming and going bananas. We were absolutely devastated when he went missing."
Fortunately, Vanilla is still the same great cat that he has always been.
"It is definitely an awesome story," Gerson said. "You don't ever really hear about pets getting reunited with their owners after nine years. The amazing thing, he was so awesome then, and he's still just as awesome now."