A missing cat has been reunited with his family after going missing almost 14 years ago.
Jess, now 17 years old, was returned to owner Leigh Bateman after going missing from a family friend’s home in May 2007.
Ms Bateman, from Ryde, Isle of Wight, said: “Jess went missing after we let him and our other cats out into our friend’s garden. It was a month after they arrived so we thought we’d given them plenty of time to get their bearings.
“About six weeks after he vanished a neighbour amazingly spotted him back where we used to live… but they hadn’t been able to catch him. We thought he was lost forever.”
Jess the cat found a new home not far from where he had gone missing, taking shelter in the grounds of the Ryde House Group assisted living home, where residents named him Tibby.
“Tibby, as we called Jess, found his way to our doorstep around 13 years ago, and made such a regular appearance that he was dubbed The Ryde Cottage Cat,” a spokesman for the Ryde House Group said.
“You can even see him on our site map, as he was so often spotted along that driveway.
“Over the last few weeks he was starting to show his age and we had the sad realisation that he needed to be brought to a place that could give him the care he needed.
“We were so sad to see him go but are so glad that he’s been reunited with his original owners.
“We’d like to say thank you to Jess for bringing smiles to the faces of our residents and staff for so many years.”
Jess was scanned for a microchip and was reunited with Ms Bateman, who had kept her details up to date.
Ms Bateman said: “We were so surprised to get the call and we’re so pleased to have him home.
“I was quite amazed that Jess seems so happy after living outdoors all this time. I wish he’d been scanned for a chip sooner but thank goodness we’d kept his details up to date so we could be found.
“I truly can’t believe he’s back with us after all these years.”
Jo Morrison, deputy manager at the charity’s Isle of Wight adoption centre, said: “Wow, the power of the microchip. We might never have known Jess had owners who missed him if it weren’t for his chip.
“It was wonderful to be able to reunite Jess and Leigh and for him to go home to his family.
“It’s always a joy when we scan a cat and the scanner says it’s not only found a chip but then the details are up to date.”
Cats Protection is calling for microchipping to become a legal requirement for pet cats, as it already is for dogs, as the charity’s 2020 report estimated that there are 2.6 million pet cats in the UK which are not microchipped.