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From Bolton to Calais here are some of Kent's most adventurous runaway animals

Us humans love a holiday, whether it be to the sunny beaches of Spain or a staycation in Kent but what about our animal friends?

Here are some of the county's most elusive creatures who have at some point decided to see more of this beautiful county and beyond.

Marshall the 'Bolton Wanderer' cat who was found in Rochester, 250 miles from his home in Lancashire
Marshall the 'Bolton Wanderer' cat who was found in Rochester, 250 miles from his home in Lancashire

Cats are arguably one of the most adventurous animals around, always out and about roaming the area, and it will come as no surprise that they are the most common pet to go missing.

Take the 'Bolton Wanderer', Marshall the tom cat, who took a 250-mile trip from up north to see the sights of Rochester.

The six-year-old feline was picked up in May by Medway mum Lynne Ashman, 49, and son Harry, 11, who nicknamed him Phantom - from Phantom of the Opera - because of the white patch on his face.

Marshall had been missing from Bolton resident Sam Spragg's home since February and his 250-mile trip back to Lancashire was delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Carer Lynne said: "Once I found out that he was from the north, I was perplexed. I wondered how he got here.

Eurotunnel staff, pictured with Simon Tipping, helped in the search for runaway cat Mia
Eurotunnel staff, pictured with Simon Tipping, helped in the search for runaway cat Mia

“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.

“He was certainly well-fed when he was making his journey down here.

“He just struts about the place as if it’s his manor and is just wonderful in every way possible - he’s not too chunky, he’s nice and petite."

If you thought Marshall was a risk taker, he was outshone by Mia, a cat from Folkestone, who decided to prolong her visit to France which she had been on with her owners.

Simon Tipping and his partner Juliet Brown were returning from Calais when the sneaky cat jumped from their van at the check-in station.

Saba pictured with Damian Aspinall. Picture: Victoria Aspinall
Saba pictured with Damian Aspinall. Picture: Victoria Aspinall

Luckily, after a appeal on social media the furry escapologist was spotted and Simon headed back across the Channel on a rescue mission.

Thanks to some helpful Eurotunnel staff he was reunited with Mia and the brazen pet made it back home five days after going AWOL.

Now, you'd be mistaken if you thought it was just domestic cats who made a break for it when given the opportunity - there have been some weird and wonderful tales of other animal escapees in Kent .

In 2018, a cheetah broke out of Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury .

The big cat - a male named Saba who was being hand raised by zoo boss Damian Aspinall - squeezed through a gap in a fence to get into a neighbouring deer park, which was only separated from a public pathway by an 8ft fence.

"Believe it or not we had a call from a police station in Kent which had a lost pig..."

The park was open at the time of the drama on the morning of October 12 but keepers were able to tempt Saba back into his enclosure.

Two deer died following the escape after running into wooden railings as they fled; one dying on impact and the other having to be euthanised because of its injuries.

Meanwhile, there are those who dedicate their time to helping find our lost furry friends. Gillingham resident Natasha McPhee helps run a group that finds lost animals in Kent with her partner Dee Potter.

Animals Lost and Found in Kent was started in 2013 and the charity worker says there has been a lot of unusual stories.

"Believe it or not we had a call from a police station in Kent which had a lost pig," she said.

Natasha McPhee started the Animals Lost and Found in Kent group in 2013
Natasha McPhee started the Animals Lost and Found in Kent group in 2013

"It was only a small one, about the size of a Staffy dog, but is was found abandoned and taken to the police station.

"We managed to track down the owner who explained it wasn't well and they didn't know what to do with it.

"We appreciated the honesty and moved it to a specialist place which tried to help it, but unfortunately it ended up dying."

Ms McPhee explained the hardest part of running the charity to find lost pets in the county is not being able to stop some from passing away.

However, not all of these adventurous tales finish with a sad ending.

Mandy Harwood reunited with Fred the tortoise
Mandy Harwood reunited with Fred the tortoise

Certainly not the tale of Fred the tortoise, who happens to be female, who went on a two-week getaway in June.

She escaped from her home in Dargate and was found by a driver on a bridge over the A299 Thanet Way in Faversham, just 800m from his home.

Fred, who is thought to be more than 60 years old, was dehydrated and taken to a vets to get checked and eventually reunited with Mandy Harwood, who was looking after the reptile for her mother.

She said: "It's an extremely big miracle that he's back.

"I've no idea how he got to where he did. He would have had to have gone through a stream.

Gillingham FC owner Paul Scally's tortoise Blake was stolen from his Dubai home
Gillingham FC owner Paul Scally's tortoise Blake was stolen from his Dubai home

"We still have no idea how he got out from his pen. It should be too tall for him to climb over and too heavy to go underneath but he did one or the other."

Keeping things snappy, Gillingham FC boss Paul Scally was left shell-shocked in 2012 after his tortoise Blake was stolen from outside the family's Dubai home.

The precious pet, called Blake after Blake Fielder Civil, the ex-husband of singer Amy Winehouse, was nabbed by a man outside a hospital 200 yards from the football club chairman's house.

Speaking at the time, Mr Scally said his daughters had been devastated by the disappearance, as was their other tortoise Amy - named after Amy Winehouse - who retreated into her shell.

Whether it be a pet escaping or going missing, one thing which can be agreed is the delight on a family's face when that animal returns safely.

Paul Durkin photographed with Daisy after she was found. Picture: Laura Sullivan
Paul Durkin photographed with Daisy after she was found. Picture: Laura Sullivan

That was the case for one Whitstable family who were reunited with their long-haired lurcher Daisy who had been missing for a week in January this year.

The four-year-old was eventually tracked down and found in Thornden Wood, Herne Bay, and hobbled into the arms of her owners Madeline Murphy and Paul Durkin.

Madeline said: “At first we didn’t believe she was lost because we’ve known other people with dogs who’ve gone off for eight or nine hours at a time, so we just thought all we had to do was hang about.”

“But by Thursday I was starting to feel really upset and Paul was convinced that something terrible had happened to her.

"Everyone was just wonderful; we couldn’t believe the response we had on social media. It restores your faith in humanity.”

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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