WHEN Penny the all-white cat went missing six long years ago, Debbie Shields lost hope of ever finding her beloved pet again.
But she couldn’t believe her ears when her hairdresser told her about a cat found at her nephew’s farm which matched Penny’s description.
When she went to the farm, Penny was waiting for her, six whole years after he disappeared from the family home in Elton, near Littledean.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Debbie. “I just burst into tears and cuddled him. I could see that it was him straight away. His fur was matted but other than that he was okay.”
The 50-year-old police dog handler added: “I had, of course, eventually lost hope of finding him again. With him being all-white, which is quite unusual, I thought he had been stolen but I reckon that he has been living as a stray for most of the six years.
“I’d love to be able to ask him where he has been all this time but I guess we will never know.
“We brought him home and he fitted right back in straight away. We have four dogs in the house. Two were there when he left and we have two others that are working dogs, but he has been just fine with them.”
Penny, who despite the name is actually a boy, is now 14 and is thought to have gone missing when he went walkabout at a neighbouring business.
“He loves jumping in cars so I think he may have jumped into a car, perhaps that of a farmer, and off he went,” said Mrs Shields.
“He was always going off, always outside hunting, but that day he never came back.
“About a year later, an all-white cat was spotted in a field but we could never find him and eventually gave up hope.”
Penny was never microchipped but the six-year incident has prompted Mrs Shields to make microchipping a top priority.
“I’ve not dared let him out yet, but the first thing I will be doing is getting him microchipped,” she said.
Mike Imm, store manager at Pets at Home Gloucester, said: “Microchipping in its simplest terms means that if your cat or dog is lost or stolen, there is a better chance you will avoid any heartache and be re-united with your beloved pet.
“It’s an easy, relatively painless service. Many of our customers have told us stories they’ve heard of missing pets being reunited with their owners.”
Animal welfare charity Cats Protection also said it was ‘important’ to get pets microchipped.