Cat reunited with owner 12 years after going missing was two miles from home

Finn is now 15 years old (The Kennel Club/PA)

A cat has been reunited with his owner 12 years after going missing – after being found just two miles from home.

Finn was aged two when he disappeared after venturing out for his usual evening adventures in Barnstaple, Devon, in December 2011.

His owner Michelle Watkin searched nearby streets for Finn, put up lost pet notices, posted leaflets through doors and reported him missing, but did not receive any news.

Then, almost 12 years later, Ms Watkin received a phone call from her vet – Market Vets in Barnstaple – informing her that they had a small male cat who had been found just two miles from her home.

The vets scanned the cat’s microchip and Ms Watkin’s details came up. Finn, now aged 15, was returned home just one hour later.

Finn pictured before he went missing Credit: The Kennel Club/PA

Ms Watkin said: “Finn went out as usual one evening, but disappeared without trace.

“I put up lost pet posters and leaflets through doors, reported him missing to local vets, walked the streets looking for him and reported him missing to Petlog, who he is chipped with.

“I got Finn as an eight-week-old kitten and his disappearance was devastating and traumatic. There were no sightings and I feared the worst.”

Finn was found in an area of Barnstaple just two miles away from Ms Watkin’s home.

He was picked up by the RSPCA before being taken to the vets for a microchip check on January 29 this year.

“I’m so happy to have him back,” Ms Watkin added.

“He’s become semi-feral due to, we think, living rough, but had been being fed by someone.

“He’s slowly settling back home and I’m gaining his trust. It’s going to take time but I’m just happy he’s home, after all this time.

“Please get your pets microchipped and ensure your contact details are kept up to date. If you find a lost or seemingly stray cat, immediately try and get them checked for a chip.

“If your pet is missing report it to your microchip database, local vets, and use social media. Above all, never give up hope.”

Finn is now back at home Credit: The Kennel Club/PA

It is a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Pet cats in England must also be microchipped from 10 June.

The Government estimates that there are more than nine million pet cats in England, with up to 2.3 million of these without a microchip.

Under the new rules, cats must be implanted with a microchip by the time they are 20 weeks old and their contact details must be stored and kept updated in a pet microchipping database.

Owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one fitted or could face a fine of up to £500.

Bill Lambert, of the Kennel Clubs – which manages Petlog – said microchipping offers owners the best chance of being reunited with their pet if they go missing.

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“We’re so pleased that Finn was found safely and could be reunited with his family, after all this time, because of his microchip,” he said.

“Sadly not all pets are so lucky. Microchipping gives owners the best chance of being reunited with their pet if they go missing, but it is only effective if your contact details are up to date.

“Cat owners in England should also be aware that they have until June 10 2024 to microchip their cat, to comply with new laws.

“Amid the trauma and heartbreak of losing a pet, in the future owners could also face fines if their cats are not microchipped – so it is really important not to leave this until the last minute.”

A microchip is the size of a grain of rice and inserted under the skin at the back of an animal’s neck.

It permanently identifies pets and links them with an owner’s contact details, which are held on a database such as Petlog.

Vets, local authorities and animal charities are able to use a scanner to find out the details on the chip.