Willow The Missing Cat Returns Home After 4 Years
The owners of a cat that went missing four years ago got a late surprise Christmas present when they were reunited with her the day after Boxing Day.
Willow, who is now 10 years old, disappeared after being let out to play from her home in Princetown, Devon, in 2007.
The black cat was one of three that vanished from the same close in the town on Dartmoor within months of each other.
While one of them turned up in Taunton, Somerset, Willow was finally found in Plymouth.
"It's really only sinking in now, but it's the best Christmas present ever," owner Cristel Worth said.
"How she managed to stray from Princetown to, about 20 miles away, to get to Elburton, I have no idea. It's a long journey right across the moors."
Willow was taken in six months ago by a family from the Elburton area of Plymouth until a space became available at a nearby animal rescue centre.
But it was not until last week that the Gables Farm Dogs' and Cats' Home in Plymouth finally identified her thanks to an implanted microchip.
Mrs Worth, 32, said she was with her husband, Mark, 31, and their two young daughters when she received the call from the charity last Tuesday.
"We had almost given up hope that we would ever find her again and it was a really wonderful experience to know that she had finally come home," she said.
"I wish she (Willow) spoke, as all we know is that for the last six months she's been living in Elburton, but the previous three and a half years are a mystery."
Mrs Worth said the cat, which she had rehomed from an RSPCA centre, was now doing well but had seemed timid on the first night she was home.
She added that her six-year-old daughter, Izzy-May, was able to remember Willow, but the cat was a "delightful" new addition for two-year-old Olivia-Rose.
"Izzy-May has been feeding her special treats and giving her extra attention during feeding time and she's now met our second daughter.
"Izzy-May is extremely excited as she used to see her in the photo albums and didn't quite understand why she went, but she
now has her back, which is wonderful.
"I'm not sure what has happened to her during the last four years but she does seem a lot more timid than before she left our
family... She's now getting lots and lots of TLC, lots of cuddles and more cats' toys than you could imagine."
Mrs Worth said she also wanted to send a huge thank you to the family who took Willow in and for looking after her until a place became available at the Gables.
Katie Barkell, from the Gables, said: "It's so difficult to match cats up with their owners, especially when the cats been missing for four years... so having them microchipped is fantastic as we can get them straight back in contact.
"It was just brilliant to be able to tell them their cat is home... They rushed in and she (Mrs Worth) was just lost for words, she said it was just the best Christmas present they could have hoped for."