Published: 16:23, 22 June 2021
| Updated: 13:12, 23 June 2021
A cat who went missing in Maidstone four years ago has been reunited with his owner, after being found living as a stray in an Essex town.
Delighted owner Kayleigh Beadle, who now lives in Manchester, burst into tears when she heard the news over the phone, having feared her pet, called Frank, was dead.
Frank is now back with Ms Beadle thanks to an appeal from a cats rehoming charity, which had taken the 11-year-old black moggie in.
Earlier this month, the Basildon, Brentwood & District Branch of Cats Protection was called, after Frank was spotted living under bushes in a garden in Basildon.
When the volunteers trapped and scanned Frank, they found out his name and that he had been reported as missing in 2017 from Maidstone, 45 miles away.
On June 16, Frank was transferred to Cats Protection’s Chelmsford and District adoption centre. Calls to his last known address went unanswered and it was only by tracking down his registered surgery after calls to vets in Maidstone and Basildon that they discovered that his owner had moved 18 months previously.
Ms Beadle had tried to find Frank through social media posts and posters locally, but his microchip details had not been updated with her new address.
With only Ms Beadle's surname to go on the Cats Protection team searched social media and launched an online appeal for information. They even called local estate agents in an effort to find the owner’s new address.
Charlotte Boddy, deputy manager at the Chelmsford adoption centre, said: “We go all out when faced with a cat who needs to be reunited with an owner who must be missing him. Once the challenge has been set, there’s no stopping us. We’ll do everything we can, turn over every stone, call whoever we need to until we find that owner."
Luckily, a worker at the RSPCA Headcorn Cattery spotted the Cats Protection Facebook post and recognised Frank as a cat they had homed years ago with Ms Beadle.
After he went missing, she had called regularly in the hope that he had been found and they had contact details.
Charlotte said: “Thirty minutes later we had a very excited call with Kayleigh. She was over the moon. It was quite emotional and everyone was a bit teary as we could hear how much she missed him. We’d worked so hard and now, against all odds, Frank would be going home."
Ms Beadle said: “It wasn’t the news we expected after four years missing. Honestly, we thought he was gone for good, possibly passed away. So we were pretty shocked, to be honest. Both me and my eldest son were in floods of tears on the phone.”
A family friend agreed to collect and transport Frank from Essex to Manchester, where he was reunited not just with Kayleigh and her eldest son Steven, aged 10, but also Kitty, the cat companion left behind when Frank went missing.
Kayleigh said: “Kitty was very young when we got her and Frank would clean her, make sure she was safe and teach her how to behave. She found it hard when he went missing but she’s nine now so we weren’t sure they’d get on, but it’s lovely. They are so good together already.
“Frank has pretty much settled in as if nothing has happened. I still have the brush I used on him as a kitten and as soon as I got it out, he rushed over and rubbed his face against it. He knew he was home with his family and he was safe. It’s so wonderful to have him back.”
Ms Beadle does not know how Frank ended up in Basildon.
Madison Rogers, senior advocacy and government relations officer at Cats Protection, said: “It is vital that details are kept up to date on microchips, so owners can be contacted if their cat goes missing. Moving house is a busy time but it is really important owners update their details, ensuring that phone numbers and emails are still valid.”
“It took a bit of detective work by the whole team, but we weren’t going to be beaten by the challenge. We were determined to get Frank home, wherever that might be. We just didn’t expect it to be across the other side of the country.”