A cat who went missing 12 years ago was safely and happily reunited with his guardians after a journey of more than 1,500 miles.

Butters, a fluffy gray cat known to his guardians as an “adventurer,” went missing from his home in San Diego, California, in 2011. The Castellino family reported him missing. But in 2013, figuring they’d never see their companion cat again, they moved more than 1,300 miles north, to Stanwood, Washington.

The couple was celebrating their 29th anniversary when they received a call from an unknown number — which they promptly declined.

The person called again, and this time Shelley Castellino answered and soon found herself speaking to Dalton Churchwell, an animal control officer with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services (DAS).

Churchwell told the Castellinos that he had found Butters in his backyard in Blythe — more than 200 miles from the Castellinos’ previous home — and scanned him for a microchip.

Although it was a Sunday, and the officer was off duty, he immediately called the associated number in hopes of getting Butters home.

“It was just unbelievable,” Angelo Castellino told HeySoCal.

Given the costs and logistics of getting a fight, the Castellinos could not immediately retrieve Butters. That’s when the Animal Solutions Konnection (ASK) Foundation stepped in, offering to cover and coordinate the flight.  The Animal Samaritans gave Butters a health exam and cleared him to fly.

Then DAS volunteer Larry Rudolph escorted Butters on a flight to Seattle, where the Castellinos picked him up.

Butters has since settled back in with his family, his brother Barnacles who also was adopted as a kitten in San Diego, and the family’s two dogs Roscoe and Alita, according to Stanwood Camano News.

We are glad that Butters was found by such a caring officer and that so many people have stepped up to help get him home! While this story has a happy ending, it’s also a reminder that cats should never be allowed to roam unsupervised outdoors and always should be microchipped to ensure a return home should anything unexpected happen.

For more happy cat rescue stories, check out this news about a cat rescued from an overpass!