Animal lovers purring with delight as their puss returns after six years away
IF cats could talk, tabby George would have the purrfect adventure tail to tell.
The 12-year-old domestic shorthair has just been reunited with his owner after disappearing on a six-year jaunt, which saw him making his home in an agricultural polytunnel and spending his days meeting customers in a pet shop.
Jane Broughton was distraught when George disappeared from her house in Breaston, fearing he may have used up his nine lives.
The 54-year-old and her family spent weeks scouring the streets, putting up posters and ringing vets' surgeries but there was no trace.
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The family had given him up for lost but then last week – nearly six years after his disappearance – Jane received a surprising phone call telling her George had been found eight miles away in Melbourne.
He had been spending his days at a pet shop in the grounds of a farm shop and garden centre, being fussed by customers and fed by staff.
She said: "George was microchipped and the company called me to say he had been found at Heaths Farm Shop and Nurseries.
"It sounds strange but I always knew he wasn't dead. I thought he would come back to me one day.
"I never thought he had been involved in an accident – I actually believed he was probably curled up on someone's lap somewhere."
Jane, reception manager at Ashfield House Veterinary Surgery, in Long Eaton, got George and his brother Henry as kittens when they were just six weeks old and said George had always been a home-loving "lap cat", so his disappearance was out of character.
On the morning he vanished, Jane had let him outside as usual but, when she shouted his name later that day, he failed to return home.
She said: "It's a mystery how he managed to get all the way to Melbourne. It's such a shame he can't talk because I'm sure he'd have a real adventure story to tell."
Trisha Pounder runs Pets at Heath, a pet shop in the grounds of Heaths Farm Shop and Nurseries, and has been looking after George for the past few years.
She said: "When he first showed up, he was very nervous of us so we just left food out for him and he made his home in one of the polytunnels at the nursery.
"Gradually, he grew friendlier and eventually became my shop cat.
"He would wait at the door of the pet shop for me every morning and spend the day with me, curled up in a bed on the counter.
"I was grooming him one day last week when I found a lump in his neck and realised it was probably a microchip, so I took him to the vet to get him scanned and they called his owner.
"Our customers will really miss him but it was lovely to see him reunited with Jane."
Jane said that she, her husband Paul, 58, and daughter Claire, 35, were thrilled to have George home.
"But he's 12 now – quite an old man in cat years – so I think he'll appreciate being home, seeing his brother again and settling into a nice peaceful retirement," she said.
"Paul and Claire couldn't believe it when I told them he'd been found. We're so excited."