Every year thousands of much-loved pets go missing, never to be reunited with their owners again.
But black cat Kitty is one of the lucky ones – even if it took her 12 years to find her way back home.
Owner Julia Nash was stunned to receive a call saying Kitty, who went missing in 2007, had been found living on the streets.
The 16-year-old moggy had been handed in to a Blue Cross animal hospital where her microchip was scanned and traced back to Julia.
The teaching assistant recalled the moment she got the call to say Kitty had been found.
Julia, 56, said: “It was a mixture of complete disbelief, shock and surprise for everyone.
“Kitty was very poorly when we first got her and she weighed less than 2.5kg but is now a healthy 4kg.
“She is also deaf and has a thyroid condition so it’s taken a while to get the dosage right, but she now looks like a cat instead of a bag of bones.”
Kitty went missing when Julia’s marriage broke up and she moved 20 minutes from the family home in Sutton, South London.
But lucky Kitty somehow survived for more than a decade on her own.
Staff at the Blue Cross centre in Merton said she must have been living as a stray – although several other “owners” have approached the charity to say they had been looking after her.
But mum-of-three Julia said: “Kitty was traced because of her microchip.
“I never cancelled it because I always hoped we would receive news, good or bad, eventually.
“I think all pets should be scanned when registered at a new practice.”
Julia said that since returning home, Kitty has “fallen in love” with her partner, Tony, so she hopes she won’t stray far again.
She believes that she and Kitty “could have been reunited a lot sooner” had her microchip been scanned by a vet earlier.
But she added: “I am extremely grateful to whoever took Kitty to the Blue Cross and to anyone who kept her safe during those 12 years.”