Cat is reunited with his family seven years after disappearing – and is said to have crossed the River Mersey alone.
Sam, a nine-year-old black cat, wandered from his home in Bootle, Merseyside in October 2014 but never returned.
His owners, Tony and Claire Fielding, spent months looking for him and appealing but could not find him.
Over the years they moved home and had a second child. When Sam was originally missing, Ms. Fielding was being treated for cancer, with chemotherapy leaving her with health complications such as severe heart damage.
Sam somehow managed to cross the Mersey (Peter Byrne / PA) / PA wire
The couple had another cat, Oliver, and in the meantime they also adopted a stray they named Tina.
However, they recently received a call from a veterinarian with surprising news for them.
Mr. Fielding said, “Claire got a call on her cell phone from a vet asking if we were missing a cat – we looked at each other in confusion when both Oliver and Tina were here.
“Then the vets said the name ‘Sam’ and we both looked at each other in disbelief. We never would have thought in our wildest dreams that we would see Sam again after so long.
“I wasn’t dressed properly to go out, so I quickly pulled on some clothes and ran to Sam’s vets. I’m not sure if he recognized us, but he was still so friendly and had the same relaxed attitude.
“He cried in the stretcher on the way home, but he let me stick my fingers in and stroke his head.”
The couple said Sam was clean and looked well-fed, despite a tiny cut in his ear.
They were told that an elderly lady in Wallasey had looked after Sam for the past two years.
When she died, a neighbor took over the feeding and called the North Wirral Branch of Cats Protection for help.
After posting photos on social media with no joy, volunteers took him to the veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip, which was found to have an owner.
Its story underscores the importance of the microchip in cats
How he ended up in Wallasey remains a mystery, which would include a drive through one of the Mersey tunnels or an hour’s drive along the coast, but he may well have unexpectedly taken him in a van or car.
Mr Fielding said the Sam family introduced the other cats very slowly to make sure he got used to their home well.
North Wirral Branch of Cats Protection Coordinator Stephen Riches said, “It’s a fantastic feeling to reunite Sam with his owner after such a long time.
“His story underscores the importance of the microchip in cats. We also recommend anyone with a stray dog in their home to call the cat protection or a local vet to scan for a microchip, as it is quite a beloved pet that has been lost. “