A CAT that went missing for 10 years has been reunited with its owner after being found wandering near the M4, more than 40 miles from home.
Archie was found by Emily Williams and a group of friends from Bromley Heath as they went for a walk.
He looked dishevelled and hungry and, acting on instinct, Emily decided he needed help.
Emily, a professional photographer, had decided to take a half-hour break from work to have a walk with some friends in late November.
As they walked along the old Bromley Heath Road at Moorend, near Hambrook, Emily noticed Archie as they passed through an underpass under the M4.
She said: “My friends know I love cats – I’ve got two at home – so they stopped while I gave the cat a little tickle, and it started to follow me.
“We started knocking on doors but no one knew who it belonged to.”
Emily enlisted the help of a local horse owner, who put Archie in the back of their car while she ran home to grab her cat carrier.
Emily then took the cat to her friend Sophia Gibbs-Foyle, who runs charity Dogs’ Friends and has a scanner which confirmed Archie had been microchipped, with an owner’s name and phone number that was no longer in service.
From there Archie went to Vets for Pets at Emersons Green, where staff were able to contact the chip company and found the vet’s practice he was previously registered to – 41 miles away in Taunton.
Emily said: “The vet told me he’d been collected, then they said he’s been missing for ten years, and he’s from Taunton! He’s somehow travelled 40 miles.”
The Somerset vet had up-to-date contact details for Claire Gamlin, who lives in the town and registered Archie for her daughter, Suz.
Claire told the Voice: “When I first got the phone call from the vet it didn’t actually sink in, because it’s been ten years. I looked at my daughter and said ‘a black and white cat’?
“We were both shocked and gobsmacked – we’re in Taunton, he’s got to Bristol and it’s been ten years.
“We would like to know the adventure he’s been on.”
Claire said Archie was about three years old when he disappeared – they had taken him on aged around 18 months when his previous owner, in Weston-super-Mare, had been unable to keep him.
The day he vanished he had been fed and let out but didn’t come back. The family put up posters and Suz carried on searching for years.
Claire said: “It took my daughter ages to give up looking for him but the years went on and we just thought that sadly something must have happened to him.
“To find out he’s alive and kicking and get him home, right near Christmas as well – it’s good to have some good news.”
Claire said Archie has been making himself at home and is not perturbed by the four other cats that Suz, who is 31 and has autism, has taken on since he went on his decade-long adventure.
She said: “It’s like he’s never been away – he was straight in the kitchen, eating out of the bowls, then he jumped up on my son’s lap.
“He recognised my daughter when she collected him – he came straight over.
“Her cats are her babies, and since he’s been home he’s been very spoiled – he’ll get back to his normal size and he will be looking like Garfield in no time.
“It’s lucky he was microchipped – but it’s mad that no-one checked the owner until now. You usually just see this in movies.”
Emily, who runs her own business, Emily Beer Photography, got in touch with Claire via Facebook.
She had shared pictures of Archie with members of the Heathboard Facebook group while she was trying to find out who his owner was.
Once Claire and Suz had been found, Emily shared the news of Archie’s amazing homecoming in a video, which also appeared on her Instagram page the_disorganisedmum, sparking a “crazy” reaction.
Emily said: “It’s just lush what’s happened.
“The bit I can’t get my head around is, where has that cat been for the last ten years?
“He was dirty and they like to be clean. He was very hungry and had some sores, but after ten years you’d expect a cat to become feral – he was so friendly, it was like he was asking me for help.
“It just shows the importance of getting your cat chipped and making sure all your details are kept up-to-date.”