Editor's Note: Krista Sanford has worked for the Daily News

When Ball State alumnus Alice Thomsen lost her beloved feline friend, Del Rey, 2 years ago, she believed she would never see her charming 8 year old domesticated short-haired cat again. 

All of that changed this past October with one simple phone call.

To donate to Del Rey's continued medical needs, visit his GoFundMe page.

Del Rey went missing one night in 2015. Thomsen is still unsure how the cat escaped.

“My roommate and I realized we hadn't seen him that day. I still don't know exactly how he got out,” Thomsen said. “The night he went missing was the first heavy snow we'd gotten that year. I wandered around in the cold, looking for paw prints, calling all the nicknames he'd earned, asking neighbors if they'd seen him.”

Thomsen began putting up ads and checked the rescue shelters in the area regularly in the hopes that one day Del Rey would show up. A few cats were found and Thomsen would get her hopes up, but it was never Del Rey. 

She gave up the search for Del Rey after a couple of months. After graduating from Ball State in the spring of 2015 with a masters degree in creative writing, Thomsen took a job and relocated to North Carolina. 

It really hit her that the search for her feline friend was over when she gave away his cage before her big move. To Thomsen, that was the symbolic moment of officially giving up looking for Del Rey.

This October, another Ball State alumnus, Krista Sanford, noticed a stray cat in her neighborhood.

“My boyfriend, Chris, and I first saw the cat across the street from our house and then again by our porch. He kind of just kept hanging around our house and a few of my neighbors houses,” Sanford said. “The next day, Chris told me that the cat was waiting for him at the front porch in the morning and let Chris pet him and hold him. That was what convinced Chris that the cat wasn't just an outdoor cat but he was actually lost.”

The two began asking around their neighborhood if they knew of anyone who had lost a cat. 

After coming back empty handed they proceeded to take the cat to a nearby animal shelter. There, at Muncie Animal Shelter, it was discovered that the cat was microchipped.

Workers at the shelter scanned the cat's microchip to find out who the lost feline belonged to. Thomsen’s information appeared on the screen. The cat Sanford found was Del Rey.

On Oct. 27 Thomsen received the call she had been waiting nearly two years for: Del Rey had been safely found.

“I was just sort of dumbfounded at first.” Thomsen said.

Del Rey had a few minor injuries from her time spent in the ‘wild’. He had a fractured humerus that required surgery and pins in order for it to heal properly.

“I scrambled to find the money to pay for it, and they did the surgery the next day, Friday,” Thomsen said. “By midweek, he was approved for travel. I ended up getting to Muncie Thursday [Nov. 3] and picking him up the next morning, then driving back.”

In order to get Del Rey home, Thomsen needed to raise enough money to cover the days off she’d need to drive back to Muncie to get him, and to cover the cost of cat supplies and the future surgeries Del Rey may require.

In the next few months, he'll need a second operation to remove the pins. He also has a spinal injury that didn't heal properly, which might require a procedure if it gets worse, Thomsen described on her GoFundMe page.

“I set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for expenses, and in less than 24 hours, I'd already gotten over $450,” Thomsen said. “ I've had strangers reach out to me just to tell me that they met him, or that they're happy for us. It's been really touching to see how beautiful people can be.”

Del Rey is now back home with his owner and resting comfortably. Almost 2 years on his own has not changed his personality, Thomsen said. Physically, Del Rey is now missing the tip of one ear and will forever have a droopy tail from a spinal injury he suffered in his absent time.

“The first night I got him home, he curled up on my chest the same way he used to.” Thomsen said.

As for Sanford, she is delighted that she could play a role in reuniting Alice and her cat.

“When I first saw the cat, I had no idea that he'd been missing for two years. I'm so glad that Chris and I decided to grab him and take him to the shelter,” said Sanford. “Even though I didn't actually meet Alice, I'm really happy that I played a part in getting her cat back home.”