One year, three months and 17 days.
That's how long Freddie the cat had been missing. But thanks to a sharp-eyed motorist and a microchip, Freddie is now reunited with owner Justin Frey, who posted on Facebook that his "heart was full" after finally having his nearly 10-year-old cat home.
Frey, 29, who adopted Freddie while he was in college because "I wanted to do something to help animals," had largely given up hope of finding the all-black Manx cat with no tail who wouldn't keep a collar on for more than a few hours. Freddie had always been an indoor-outdoor cat but had never gone more than a night away from home, Frey wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. Even if Freddie was out late, the talented tree climber would get onto the roof and go to the side of the house with a window to alert Frey, whose bedroom was on the second floor.
Until Sept. 20, 2015. When Freddie didn't come home, Frey repeatedly canvassed his south Minneapolis neighborhood and checked the humane society's found pets listings daily.
He had dreams that Freddie made his way home and was at the back door waiting to be let in, but still nothing.
Then on Thursday, Char Gruber was driving home from work on Interstate 35W near Black Dog Road in Burnsville when something on the side of the road caught her eye.
Gruber wrote in a Facebook post that she turned around and saw a black cat. "He lifted one cold paw, then the other," she wrote. "I went up to him and he dove into a 25 foot long drainage pipe and was living under the off ramp."
She went to get help and returned with a friend, who helped set two traps as the temperature hovered just above 0, Gruber said. Moments later, the cat was in one of the traps.
The cat was turned over to another friend of Gruber's, who discovered a microchip.
Frey picked him up the next day and Saturday took him to the veterinarian, who had no major concerns. "Freddie had no problem making himself at home again," Frey said. "He jumped right onto my bed for a snooze and pretty much has been there since."