The owners of a missing cat have been left “astounded” after he turned up – a decade later.
Neil and Lucy Henderson had lost hope of finding their cat Forbes after he went missing from their home in the Rosemount area of Aberdeen in March 2011.
Though they searched for months, the Hendersons feared the worst had happened to him.
Mr Henderson said: “When Forbes first went missing in March 2011, we were distraught. We’d had him from when he was a kitten and we had such a special bond. He was such a unique and friendly character, we absolutely adored him.
“Our friend made posters and we went door-to-door in the area we lived in Rosemount. We asked people to check garages and sheds as we thought he may have just been locked inside.
“We looked for him for months and months, but we very sadly had to come to the realisation that the worst may have happened.”
Three years later, the couple moved to Edinburgh.
‘I was amazed’
Greg Stevenson is an animal rescue officer for the Scottish SPCA. He responded to reports of a rather thin looking cat wandering Ferrier Gardens area of Aberdeen.
Upon finding the cat, Mr Stevenson noticed it was very friendly and scanned for a microchip.
It was Forbes, who is now 12 years old.
Thinking the cat had probably ventured too far from home in the past couple of days, Mr Stevenson headed round to the Henderson’s old address, which was still registered as Forbes’ home.
Finding no one there, he called the number on the chip and got through to Mrs Henderson.
He said: “I was amazed to hear how long Forbes had been missing for.
“The owners couldn’t believe it but were absolutely over the moon.”
Mr Henderson said his wife was speechless: “She just couldn’t speak for a minute trying to take it all in, it was completely overwhelming.”
Forbes was found just two miles from the Hendersons’ former flat, shetlering under a trampoline.
Mr Stevenson said it was difficult to learn that the cat may have stayed so close to home.
He said: “It’s heartbreaking that he was found so close to the flat. It’s just outside of the area we were looking in, and if he was so close all that time it’s such a shame that we weren’t able to find him.”
Forbes was given the veterinary attention he needed after fending for himself for over 10 years, but has now been given a clean bill of health.
Mr Stevenson said: “Medically he’s absolutely fine.
“He got given a really good bill of health from the vet, all the bloods and everything came back great.
“He was really skinny when we got him and he had a few problems with mites and worms and things, but he’s been treated for all that.”
Mr Henderson couldn’t believe it when his wife phoned to tell him that Forbes had been found after all these years.
He said: “My wife phoned when I was on the motorway and she told me I had to pull over. I was completely unprepared for what I was about to be told and hearing that Forbes had been found left me completely astounded.
“I have to admit that I was completely overcome with emotion and turned the car round immediately to go home.
“We travelled to Aberdeen on Saturday and when he was brought out, I recognised him immediately. Forbes did give me a big cuddle so I’m hopeful that he remembered us.”
Mr Henderson said having Forbes back in his life feels like a kind of strange nostalgia for the life he had back in Aberdeen.
He said: “That whole chapter of my life closed, I’ve been trying to put it into words, it’s such a weird mix of nostagia.
“It takes us back to ten years ago when we were in Aberdeen, the job I had then, the things we were doing, it’s like it’s been locked in time when I look at him.
“It’s like one of those dreams where you wake up and think ‘damn it’, but it’s the reverse, I keep looking at him and thinking ‘Forbes, you’re actually in my house.'”
The Hendersons now have two more cats and two dogs, so Forbes has been settling in with his new family.
He is getting on well with his new feline friends especially: “We’ve just been introducing them a little bit at a time.
“He was running around the living room with one of our other cats today and they were both absolutely fine.”
They say he has been getting used to his new surroundings since making the move down to Edinburgh, and has even started showing signs of his old habits.
Mr Henderson said: “Since coming home he has adopted habits he used to have.
“In my younger days I used to stay up late and Forbes would come in the room and start meowing at me until I turned off the video game I was playing and went to bed. This was so he could come and cuddle in to me. He’s started doing the same thing again which is so heartwarming.
“This is just the best outcome for us. We never thought we would see him again. It’s like a closed chapter has just opened up. It’s a dream come true.”
The adventures of Forbes
Mr Henderson has been pondering what Forbes might have been up to all these years.
He said: “I don’t think the reality is quite what I have in my head, I like to imagine him on a sailboat galivanting around the world, but he probably just kicked about it Aberdeen.”
Mrs Henderson is a teacher, and her pupils are already keen to fill in the gaps.
He said: “The kids are really excited, they’re going to write little stories and things about the adventures of Forbes.”
Another theory is that Forbes has spent his mystery years asleep.
Mr Henderson said: “I forgot how much he loved sleeping, he’s probably just been kipping for 10 years, a big long lie.”
Finding a lost cat
Forbes was easily reunited with his owners because he was microchipped.
The Scottish SPCA said they support microchipping for exactly these kinds of situations.
Mr Stevenson said: “Due to the roaming nature of cats, they can go missing or return to homes where they have previously been fed. No matter how tempting it is to invite a cat that is not yours in to your home, please don’t do this as it can cause great upset for owners.
“We were delighted to be able to reunite Forbes with Neil and Lucy. We know that he is going to have a very happy and relaxing retirement.”
If you find a cat you believe to be lost, ill or injured you can report it to Scottish SPCA’s helpline on 03000 999999.