The cat turned out to be James, a female cat Takayesu and her family had owned 15 years ago. She was named after a character in her son's favorite show, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. James the cat had first lived with the family in Kula, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, then moved with them 10 miles away to another part of Maui, Makawao.
"She was fine for a month [in Makawao] - she had the same routine," Takayesu said. "She'd come in at night, and during the day, she'd wander in and out. Then we noticed she didn't come in at night. We went looking for her and couldn't find her."
The family searched for a month, driving around each evening to look for her. They even went back to Kula, to see if she'd gotten disoriented and wandered back home. But she never came back. The family had previously lost a cat to a dog attack, so they feared the worst, and eventually stopped looking.