Pinellas Park shop cat, missing 5 years, returns thanks to microchip

- Outdoor specialty store, Bill Jackson's Shop For Adventure staff was devastated when the shop cat disappeared in 2011. 

The cat showed up at the store in 2007 and was quickly adopted to perform certain duties around the store. 

Before putting him to work, employees named him Eli. 

He was tasked with greeting customers, being an ambassador in the Great Room, supervising cleaning duties, and being the official stress reliever for employees. 

But on New Year's Eve in 2011, Eli went missing. 

Employees spent the holiday searching for him. They put up fliers in hopes someone would find their furry friend. 

Eli had a microchip which was registered to a store employee, as well as a collar with contact information, so they remained hopeful. 

But as time wore on and rumors of coyotes in the area trickled in, they resolved themselves to Eli being gone forever. 

Their resolve was broken on Tuesday, October 16, 2017. 

The employee listed as Eli's owner on his microchip got a call from Pinellas County Animal Services saying Eli had been dropped there as a stray. 

Eli doesn't look the same as he did five years ago. He's obviously had some adventures in the last five years, 10 months, and 17 days.

"The moral of this story - have your pets microchipped," friend of the store, Donna Saxer said. "Make sure you register the microchip and make sure you keep the info up to date if you move or change any of your contact info!"

Self-proclaimed Head Cat Wrangler at Bill Jackson, Inc., Camille Newton added, "If you love 'em, chip 'em!"

Newton says Eli's absence made the store employees realize how much they loved having a kitty around, so they adopted Wiley in 2013. Hopefully, Wiley and Eli will get along as a shop kitty duo. 

Eli will be receiving medical care at Gulf Animal Hospital. 

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