A family cat which vanished for 18 months was discovered by its owners when they went to a rescue charity looking for a new one.
Michelle Humber’s family pet Phoenix was a “best friend” to her son, Ronnie Cockroft, five, before the cat vanished.
The disappearance left the family, who were then living in Chaddesden, “gutted and devastated”.
Phoenix was going to be replaced when they visited the Cats Protection centre in Dalbury Lees last week.
The family had picked out another cat, Orlando, but were gutted to hear he couldn’t be taken home because he had the feline immunodeficiency virus, which affects cats in a similar way to how HIV does with humans.
But the family, including Miss Humber’s partner Jay Cockroft and other son, Reggie, two, spotted ten-year-old Phoenix and were stunned.
Miss Humber, of Stenson Road, Littleover, said: “We couldn’t believe what happened, it was amazing.
“The boys were devastated when he went missing because he played such a big part of their lives.
“He was always bouncing and playing around. When he went missing, we’d no idea where he’d gone.
“It came to the point where, a few weeks ago, we were talking about getting a kitten. The lads were really keen on the idea because they missed Phoenix so much.”
The family visited the centre on Saturday and recognised him immediately. He had been there for about two months but where he was before that remains a mystery.
Miss Humber said: “He was still registered with his microchip as living at our old address and he had a little wonky ear, so all of that confirmed it was him.
“It was amazing and the children were so pleased. Ronnie saw him straightaway and was screaming and cheering with excitement.
“He became such a big part of our lives and it was amazing to welcome him back. I don’t know what the odds are of what happened to us but I imagine they’re pretty small.”
The family will pick Phoenix up next week.
Miss Humber added: “I know the lads are buzzing with excitement because that’s all they’re talking about.
“He’s a really friendly and pleasant cat. He’s perfect and great with the children.”
The family got Phoenix in 2008 when he was three years old.
Miss Humber said the family were gutted that they could not also take Orlando home due to his virus.
Miss Humber said: The perfect situation would have been to have had both of them, but sadly it wasn’t to be.”
Miss Humber also praised the people who work at the centre.
She added: “They were brilliant. I’m not sure if they’ve ever seen something like this happen before.
“They’re very professional and, because they’ve cared for Phoenix so well, it means we can welcome him back into our lives.”
Read more: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Little-Ronnie-s-tears-joy-finds-pet-cat-Phoenix/story-28100551-detail/story.html#ixzz3qS2adsNB