A RUNAWAY cat was reunited with its owner after it was missing for nine-and-a-half months.
Lucy O'Connell, from Willington, feared she would never see her pet, Bailey, again.
But she was delighted the PDSA in Derby was able to identify him using his microchip after a couple from the city took him in, having cared for him since Christmas last year.
Ms O'Connell, 40, had taken her cat in for a check-up on October 1 when she thought he had been hit by a car.
It was then that he escaped and remained missing until he was handed in to the same centre.
The mother of six said: "It's fantastic to have him back. I'm over the moon. I kept up hope but I don't think I expected to get him back as he had been gone for such a long time."
He was taken to the PDSA when the couple – who had been feeding and caring for him – suspected that he was ill. The centre ran tests and informed the owner her cat had been brought back.
Ms O'Connell was angry when Bailey went missing from the care of the PDSA but was full of praise after he was returned.
"They have been wonderful," she said. "The way they have treated him has been amazing. For a lot of people pets are just pets. But my cats are like my kids to me."
The owner of three cats is so fond of her pet that she got his name tattooed on her body after he went missing. Her daughter, Courtney, 16, shared her mum's happiness.
She said: "It's amazing. I have really missed him."
The family have three cats, with Bailey being the youngest, aged three.
Bailey will now spend the rest of his life on medication after being diagnosed with bi-ventricular failure of his heart.
The PDSA was glad to see him back in the care of his owners.
Sally Robotham, head nurse in Derby, said: "We are thrilled that Bailey and Lucy have been reunited. When he disappeared we worked closely with Bailey's owner to try to find him.
"Happily though, and despite Bailey's health problems, it sounds like he has been leading an adventure-filled life since we last saw him."