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Tibbs comes home to Whitstable owner Richard Freeman three years after going missing thanks to vet Roger Baker

A Whitstable family were left stunned after their beloved cat was returned by a vet three years after he disappeared.

In April 2011, police officer Richard and marketing assistant Natasha Freeman were devastated when their five-year-old cat Tibbs vanished from their home.

Tibbs disappeared only a month after the Freemans moved from Eversleigh Rise to Swalecliffe Road.

Richard Freeman and son Ewan, four, with Tibbs
Richard Freeman and son Ewan, four, with Tibbs

The couple feared the worst for Tibbs, who they had cared for since he was a kitten, believing he was killed on the railway track close to their home.

They spent weeks scouring the streets, putting notes through neighbours’ doors and making contact with vets.

A few months later they welcomed new cat Oscar to soften the blow for their then one-year-old son Ewan.

But they were left dumbfounded after receiving a call from Cromwell Road vet Roger Baker, who died a week later.

He told them Tibbs had been handed in as a stray.

Staff at the surgery managed to trace Tibbs’ owners after they scanned him using microchip technology.

Richard, 31, said: “It was pretty amazing, we never expected to see him again. It’s all a bit of a mystery.”

Richard did not believe the news at first, thinking Natasha was winding him up.

When Natasha, 32, called him at work saying “you’ll never guess what’s happened… Someone’s just found the cat and given him in”, Richard was in complete disbelief.

“She said because he’s micro-chipped there’s no two ways about it,” he said.

Tibbs is settling back into his home... three years after he disappeared
Tibbs is settling back into his home... three years after he disappeared

“I was sat in the office and I thought if I say it out loud they’ll all laugh at me.”

Richard was anxious to first see Tibbs, fearing he would be bare-boned, wild-natured or, worse, not remember him.

But Tibbs was fine as soon as Richard picked him up and as friendly as ever.

On returning home, Tibbs rubbed up against Richard’s leg, ate dinner and went straight to sleep as if nothing had happened.

Richard said: “He’s only been with us 24 hours now, but he has fitted in perfectly.”

“I was sat in the office and I thought if I say it out loud they’ll all laugh at me" - Richard Freeman

Since Tibbs’ return Richard says he has opted to keep him indoors in case he runs off and to help form a relationship with Oscar and the couple’s 21-month-old baby Jacob.

Richard added: “The cats are both males so there’s been a bit of hissing as they try to figure each other out.

"But they’re both very nice cats so I don’t think there will be a problem, especially not with the children.

“Jacob seems very interested but he’s a bit confused as they look very similar. He probably thinks he’s seeing double!”

Ewan still remembers his old friend, and is very pleased to have him home, saying “wow” at the news of Tibbs’ safe return.

“Me and my brother grew up with an animal,” said Richard, “so it’ll be nice for the boys to have that and hopefully they’ll both grow up with the two cats.”

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