Photo gallery: Not quite the owl and the pussycat, but Great Yarmouth’s Poppy is still a seafaring kitty

Janet Holland with her cat Poppy which stowed away on a ship before being brought back to shore. Picture: James Bass

A seafaring tabby cat has her paws back on dry land after stowing away on a ship.

Two year old tabby cat, Poppy, was reunited with owner Janet Holland thanks to her micro chip. Picture: James Bass

Animal lover Janet Holland was devastated when Poppy went missing from her Bradwell home two-and-a-half months ago. But she was even more shocked when she received a call out of the blue to say the cat was safe - after two weeks sailing on the high seas.

Janet, 56, had searched the streets for the two-year-old tabby, who lost her tail after being hit by a car as a kitten, calling the cat's name every day in the hope she would return.

But adventurous Poppy was a long way from home. She had somehow made her way to Great Yarmouth and snuck onto a boat bound for the North Sea oil rigs.

The offshore vessel sailed without realising Poppy was on board, going at least 30 miles out to sea before the crew soon found their feline passenger and kept her safe, warm and well-fed until they returned to shore.


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Back on land, RSPCA East Norfolk had received a call from the boat and started making enquiries to find the cat's owner.

They appealed for help on their Facebook page but it was only after Poppy was back and they scanned her for a microchip that they discovered who she belonged to.

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'The RSPCA phoned me quite early in the morning and when they told me where she'd been, I thought I was dreaming,' said Janet.

'I can not thank them or the ship's crew enough. They probably don't realise just how much this means to me.

'She has a little friend over the back she goes and plays with and she's known for wandering around the school playing field. But Poppy had never spent a night away from home so we thought the worst.

'We walked around the block searching for her and I called the school when it was open again in case she was there, but no one had seen her. 'Now we know why.

'I just can't believe it. It goes to show how important getting them micro chipped is.'

Poppy returned to Bradwell on Monday and is once again enjoying some home comforts, including cuddling up with Janet's other cats, Shady and Rebel, and playing with her dog Gormless, a two-year-old Shih Tzu terrier cross.

While cats are normally known for their dislike of water, Janet says Poppy is quite nonplussed about holidaying on the North Sea.

The RSCPA has advised her to keep the cat indoors for the next three weeks to be safe, but it won't be long until Poppy is back to her usual self - bringing in birds from the garden and chasing Gormless around the house.

Debra Cook, branch manager of RSPCA East Norfolk, said the moral of the tale is getting pets micro chipped.

Janet had her three cats chipped by the RSPCA at one of their local community action days, and Debra is encouraging others to do the same if they haven't already or, if they, to keep the information stored on the chip up to date as that is the best way to be reunited with an animal if it goes missing.

'We really pleased there has been a happy ending and really pleased Janet had Poppy micro chipped,' she said.

'When we heard about that on the ship we started quite a bit of detective work and spoke to lots of people, but it was the microchip that led us to the owner.'

The RSPCA East Norfolk will be holding a community day at St Mary Magdalene Church, Magdalene Square, Gorleston on September 28.

The charity will be micro chipping cats and dogs for a donation of £3 and, with the Cats Protection, handing out neutering vouchers to local people in receipt of council or housing tax benefit.

The event will run from 10am to 4pm and there will free pet health checks as well as information on cats currently looking to be rehomed. The RSPCA covering Greater Yarmouth is currently struggling with an increase of stray and unwanted cat and can not take in more until those already in care are rehomed.

For details, visit www.rspcaeastnorfolk.co.uk or call the rehoming line on 07867 972870.

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