When Sam Spragg’s cat Marshall went missing on February 1, she wasn’t too worried.
The cat often stays away for a few nights at a time, but usually comes back.
But this time, days passed and Marshall still wasn’t home.
Panicked Sam, who has had Marshall since he was eight months old, posted on local lost and found animal groups on Facebook and searched for the missing puss for two weeks in Darwen, Lancashire, and nearby Bolton, where she had previously lived with him.
But there was no sign of him and she worried he was gone forever.
But 11 weeks after he went missing, she got a call to say he’s been found. Amazingly, he was 250 miles away in Kent.
Due to lockdown, he has been staying put with the lady who found him, Lynne Ashman, 49, and her 11-year-old son have taken him under their wing.
Sam, 27, doesn’t know how her six-year-old black and white domestic shorthair ended up so far away but suspects he may have had a helping hand from a courier van driver.
She said: ‘At first, I didn’t think anything of it.
‘Marshall is always in and out of the house so when he goes away for a couple of days, he always comes back.
‘That’s just normal behaviour for Marshall – he’s so adventurous.
‘He’s a very sociable cat so I thought he would either be in a back garden somewhere or saying hello to care home residents.’
But Sam, who nicknames Marshall the Bolton Wanderer after her local football team, began to worry when he didn’t return and Storm Ciara was forecast – she wanted him home for his safety.
Sam, a wedding and events coordinator, said: “‘I was just trying to keep positive but when you don’t hear back for so long, you start to fear the worst.
‘I thought I had lost him forever.’
After 79 days, she got the news that he had been found.
Carer Lynne had found Marshall on May 3, near a busy road in Rochester. He had taken an instant like to her, where he circled her legs and followed her home.
Lynne posted on Kent lost and found animal Facebook pages to see if Marshall belonged to anyone in the region but there were no takers.
She took him to the vets and as he was microchipped, his home was traced back to Lancashire.
She said: ‘Once I found out that he was from the north, I was perplexed.
‘I wondered how he got here.’
Even though he had been away for 11 weeks, Lynne said Marshall looked healthy and well.
‘After 11 weeks away from home, you would’ve thought that the poor thing would be starving to death but that clearly wasn’t the case,’ she said.
‘He was certainly well-fed when he was making his journey down here.’
Lynne and her son, Harry, have fallen in love with Marshall.
The mum of one said: ‘He just struts about the place as if it’s his manor.
‘He’s just wonderful in every way possible – he’s not too chunky, he’s nice and petite.
‘We even call him Phantom – from Phantom of the Opera – because of the white patch on his face.’
Lynne was put in contact with owner Sam after two days and they are now in constant communication with Lynne sending daily pictures and videos of the tomcat – reassuring his worried owner that he’s safe and well.
Lynne said: ‘Our conversations have led to a new friendship and a challenge to get him up north.’
Cat charity, Just Cats North West, is currently trying to get Sam back to Marshall as soon as they can.
Sam said: ‘I’m so glad he is safe and being cared for. I miss him and can’t wait to have him home.’
Has your pet turned up after a long time? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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