“I pretty much refused to believe she passed.”

By Meghan Overdeep
March 09, 2021
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Laken Read was just four years old when she got her first cat, a small tabby named Muffin.

She told The State that she was devastated when Muffin ran away from her family's North Carolina home in 2016.

The Read family looked high and low for Muffin. They knocked on doors and hung fliers, but the 16-year-old cat was nowhere to be found. Their search was complicated by the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. The Category 5 storm pummeled the area, causing flooding and power loss.  

Laken Read Cat Muffin
Credit: Laken Read

But Laken wouldn't accept that anything had befallen her beloved Muffin.

"I pretty much refused to believe she passed," she recalled to The State. "It was really unfortunate timing, too, because Hurricane Matthew had hit after she went missing."

The family took solace in the fact that Muffin was microchipped. If someone found her, they'd be able to get in touch.

Miraculously, that's what happened. It just took a while.

Last week, Laken's parents said they had a surprise for her. She told The State she didn't know what was going on until they arrived at a vet's office.

Four years later, Muffin, now 20 years old and a little worse for the wear, had been found.

Apparently, she had been living just a few miles away in Apex, on the porch of Stephanie Stanton, who assumed she was a stray.

After years of feeding the cat she called Jessie, a severe flea infestation prompted Stanton to take her to the vet. It's at that point that Muffin was scanned for a microchip and the Reads were contacted.

"The toughest part is knowing this is a 20-year-old cat now, that... we're going to have to say goodbye again," Laken's dad Jerry told The State. "But that was at least a little comfort that here at the end of her life she'll be back with the family that she knew for 16 years."