When Toby the tabby cat’s owner Dawn Gibson decided to go on holiday so did he.
But his trip lasted a year and was anything but a luxury break.
Toby, then aged one, was on his way to a cattery in Nateby near Garstang from his home in Weeton, and as his owners pulled up en route to their break in Scotland he dived out of the car and fled in the open countryside.
Mum of one Dawn and partner Joseph had given up hope of seeing him again - and couldn’t believe their eyes when they were reunited with the cat last weekend.
Assuming he was dead, they‘ve since got two more cats and also have three dogs.
No-one knows where he went or what he was doing but was spotted a number of times in and around Myerscough College’s Bilsborrow campus near Preston, over the last few months - leading to staff feeding him and he gradually become very friendly.
After a few weeks, Animal Academy tutor, Caroline Bowden, decided to try to find out if the cat, who staff had named William, belonged to anyone.
Caroline said: “At first we thought he was feral.
“We couldn’t get near him, which is exactly what is expected of a feral cat, but he was a bit too timid and friendly.
“We left food out and came every day then he started coming in.
“In fact he became friendlier than our own office cat and looked as if he’d been homeless for a long time.’’
Caroline added: “He’s a fantastic cat. He had worms and we de-flead him.
“I was working and after playing with him on the car park, I decided to make it my mission to find his owner, as I knew someone must be missing such a beautiful cat.’’
The cat was registered on lost and found websites online and pictures were put up around Bilsborrow, but to no avail. Carolyn said: “My friend, who works with the RSPCA, came down and scanned him and to my surprise he was microchipped. His name is actually Toby. I then found his owner’s contact details and reunited him with his owner,‘’
Caroline said: ‘’Very often people do not update their details, which leads to lost pets not being reunited with their owners, but luckily for Toby, this was not the case.’’
Dawn, a dental nurse, said: “ We didn’t go away that weekend because I was absolutely distraught. I kept going back to the area to find him. I put posters up around the area and went into nearby homes and stables.
She added: “I was absolutely gobsmacked, shocked, when I got the call he had been found. He looked different but is getting back to his old self now. I was getting another cat to keep him company when he went so then I had to get one to keep that company so have three now.
“He is settling in fine. I think he recognised the dogs and the house and it is brilliant to have him back.”