A family have become part of a “Christmas miracle” after their cat returned home to them after eleven years.
Toby first went missing in 2012, at some point when the Allan family relocated five miles from Galley Common to their current home, The Long Shoot, Nuneaton.
Eleven years later, the white 14-year-old mixed-breed moggy returned to the Allan household, after being found around nine miles away in Bedworth.
“It’s like a Christmas miracle,” Justine Allan told the PA news agency.
The retired 52-year-old learning support assistant said that she was “in shock” and couldn’t believe how “unbelievable” it was, and that Toby “hadn’t changed that much at all”.
Recalling the initial emotional ordeal of losing Toby, Mrs Allan said the pet was particularly special to her youngest son, Charlie, who is now 23.
“He was Charlie’s cat. He wanted a cat when he was eight years old, and we got him Toby from the Cat’s Protection League when he turned 12,” she said.
“I don’t think Charlie’s slept all night, he’s really in shock.
“He’s been in and out, in and out and looking after him.”
Mrs Allan said that the fact Toby was microchipped played a key role in him returning home.
Toby was microchipped by Cats Protection when he was a kitten and Mrs Allan said the microchip had all the details, and that the address had changed but the phone number was still the same.
She said: “I have updated my address to where we live now.
“I want to say how important it is to microchip.
“I hadn’t ever really given it a thought before other than I knew Toby had one, but obviously, it’s just so unbelievable that 11 years have passed and all the dangers that Toby must have faced every single day.”
When Toby was located, Lorraine Conroy, a Cats Protection volunteer, scanned and collected Toby from a Bedworth flat on Saturday night.
Mrs Allan said: “This lady, Lorraine, who is a volunteer at Cat’s Protection was so lovely.
“She really went above and beyond.”
Cats Protection staff asked Mrs Allan if she was prepared to have Toby back at home with her as she has a new dog in the house – eight-month-old Bernie.
“Straight away, we both said we’ll have him back,” she said.
“So, we got him as soon as we could because it just feels like he’s ageing, and he’s so lovely and so friendly. It’s great, what’s not to like, we’ve got him back.
“Hopefully, Bernie will have settled down and it’ll be lovely in time for Christmas.”
Madison Rogers, Cats Protection’s head of advocacy, campaigns and government relations, added: “It is always wonderful to hear stories like Toby’s where a cat and owner have been reunited thanks to their microchip after so many years apart.”