Cat reunited with Norfolk owners six years after going missing 150 miles from home
When jet black Mac jumped off Stuart Emery's narrow boat during a holiday in Staffordshire and never returned, he feared the worse for his pet puss.
In the years following his disappearance in 2006, the retired printer and his wife Maureen returned to the same spot in Stoke-on-Trent on several occasions but never found Mac – who had been a pet since he was a kitten.
But, a few weeks ago, the 18-year-old cat was spotted and picked up by an animal welfare charity before derelict buildings along the canal side were demolished.
Now - as the song goes - Mac is back in town and enjoying life again on the same narrow boat which is moored on the Little Ouse river south of Downham Market.
'It's simply astonishing,' said Mr Emery, 64.
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'I never thought I would see Mac again. We always wondered what had happened to him but to be honest we thought he had probably died years ago.
After rescuing Mac, volunteers at the Iris' Cats In Need charity discovered the ageing domestic short hair was micro-chipped but the unique ID was connected to Mr Emery's old address in Harlow, Essex.
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One of the charity's volunteers sent a letter to that address explaining the cat had been found and eventually the father-of-two, who also has four dogs, another cat and a parrot, was forwarded the letter and dropped everything to go back to Stoke to be reunited with his prodigal cat.
He continued: 'When I walked into the room he recognized me instantly and jumped onto my lap and head-butted my chest affectionately. It was a tremendously emotional moment.
'The staff at the charity were surprised I had travelled the best part of 150 miles to get him but I would have gone to the northern most tip of Scotland to get him back because he is part of this family.
'I have moved home twice since he was micro-chipped as a kitten, so it is a wonder the letter ever found me at all. We are so fortunate to have him back.
'He is in great health for an 18 year old cat and has been really putting on weight since he got back but he doesn't seem to want to go outside any more – I think he's had enough of adventures far from home.'
He later added: 'To get him back is just unbelievable. To me the feeling of elation couldn't be much less than winning the lottery.
'I think what saved him was the fact all his shots and injections were up-to-date.'
Volunteer Eileen Smith, of the Iris' Cats In Need charity, based in Stoke-on-Trent, said: 'It was lovely to get a call from Stuart when he realized we had found his cat and even better to see Mac jump on his lap and recognise him straight away.'