A cat whose disappearance left his owners “devastated” has finally been returned to them – six years later.
Missing black and white moggy Raffael, known as ‘Raffi’, vanished from Mustafa Javed’s family home, leading them to make frantic searches of their neighbourhood.
But when their appeals on social media also drew a blank, they assumed the beloved pussy must have passed away.
In the months that followed, Mustafa even helped arranged a fake “burial” for the missing cat to bring closure to his three kids.
So he said they were left “stunned and shocked” when an RSPCA officer rang them to say that Raffi had been found injured in a garden just five miles from their home.
Mustafa said: “I was travelling back to the UK from abroad at the time when my brother rang me to say Raffi had been found.
“We couldn’t believe it, the children were so excited, it’s all they could talk about.
“I think the whole family was stunned and shocked.
“We’d been through the grieving process and had even had a ‘burial’ for him to try and bring about some sort of closure.
“So to hear that he’d been found alive after all this time, it really was a lot to take in.”
Mustafa said that Raffi disappeared from his family home in Old Trafford, Manchester, shortly before Christmas in 2016.
Mustafa’s family own a garage in the area, and believe he may have ended up there after climbing into one of their cars and then getting out – unseen – at the other end.
He said: “My children, Maryam, Ibraheem and Khadeeja were only seven, six and three at the time and they were devastated when Raffi went missing.
“He was a clever cat, he wasn’t the sort that would just wander off, he always stayed near the house, so it was the pain of not knowing what had happened to him that was the worst part.”
“I remember it was freezing cold at the time but we searched for him in all weathers, we’d go out walking in our wellies.
“We literally looked for months and months, setting up Facebook groups and going from house to house in the local area.”
But a breakthrough came after RSPCA inspector Rachel Henderson was called to a property in Longsight on January 17 about an injured cat that was found in a garden.
And when the officer scanned him she discovered he was microchipped and registered to the Javed’s property about five miles away.
Mustafa said Raffi had a particularly strong bond with his grandfather and he would often sit in the sun on a little roof outside his room overlooking the garden.
Sadly, he died five years after Raffi went missing, although poignantly, he was found on the anniversary of his passing.
He was also affectionately known as ‘Bobtail’ by people in the local area because of his unusually short tail – which is thought to have become trapped when he was a kitten.
Raffi is now slowly getting to know another cat, Marshmallow, back at home who the family adopted about four years after he went missing.