A FAMILY who were convinced their beloved cat was dead were amazed when it turned up alive and well four years later.
BuBu had gone missing from her East End home, in East Boldre, after being found injured by owner Tim Howland.
He told the A&T: “She was in the house and I had just gone to get a blanket and something to treat her with before taking her to the vets. She had quite a big wound on one of her back legs and appeared to have been attacked by another animal.
“But before I could get back to BuBu I saw her going outside and then she disappeared.”
Mr Howland said he and his family searched everywhere for the cat but could not find her. He said he believed BuBu, a British short-hair blue with grey and white mottling, had died from her injuries somewhere in the Forest.
The cat’s disappearance was especially upsetting for the family as she had belonged to Mr Howland’s late wife Helen who died at the age of 42.
He said: “When she was ill BuBu would sit on the end of her bed. My daughter India was only ten when her mother died and, for her, BuBu and our other cat Cocoa were a big link with Helen.
“India was distraught when BuBu went missing. We thought she must have died because if anyone had taken her in they would have sought treatment for her injuries at a vet and the chip would have shown up.”
Mr Howland, who now lives in Boldre with second wife Rachel and youngest daughter Evie, said: “Evie was very fond of BuBu and remembered her well, even though she was only about three-and-a-half when the cat disappeared. It was very sad thinking she had probably just gone off somewhere and died as there were no sightings of her at all.”
But to his amazement, last week Mr Howland received a phone call from Jon Hancock, at Lymington Cat and Kitten Rescue, asking him: “Have you got a cat?”
Mr said: “I told him ‘I used to’ to which he then described the cat, and the description matched BuBu.
“I got quite emotional, I just could not believe that she wasn’t dead and that after all these years we had got her back.
“I immediately phoned India who burst into tears.”
Mr Howland said when he took BuBu home she settled straight back in, saying: “She actually went asleep on my chest and started purring, it was like she’d never been gone.
“What we want to do now is try to find out where she’s been!
“My daughter Evie said ‘Now someone will be missing her’ which made me think we really need to find who has been looking after her to let them know she is home and safe.”
Mr Howland said he had taken BuBu to the vet who said that she had an injury to her back leg but did not know if it was the old injury she had when she went missing, or a new one.
Mr Hancock from the rescue charity said he had been “absolutely delighted” to be able to reunite BuBu with her family, adding: “This is definitely a record for us!”
Describing how BuBu was found he said: “We got a call from R&J Shellfish, at Walhampton, who said a limping stray cat had been hanging round for a few days. When we got there she was quite happily sitting in a chair.
“She’d obviously been looked after by someone as she was in very good condition apart from her leg.
“We scanned her, and her chip came up with the vet details but not the owners. The vet very kindly went all through their records going back years and finally found Mr Howland’s name and contact details.
“It’s been absolutely tremendous for us to be able to reunite them. Our last record was three years so this well and truly beats it.
“My message from this to cat owners who are missing their pets is ‘never give up hope’ this wonderful story shows how they can still show up years later.”
Those with information on where BuBu may have been can contact the A&T on 01425 613384. For more information on Lymington Cat and Kitten Rescue visit www.lymicat.org.