This is the heart-melting moment a five-year-old boy bursts into tears of joy when he spots his long-lost cat in a rescue centre – 18 months after it went missing.
Michelle Humber and her son Ronnie had gone to pick out a replacement pet when they stumbled across their old cat Phoenix who vanished from their home in May last year.
In an incredible coincidence, ten-year-old Phoenix was in an enclosure next to a cat Orlando who they had arranged to collect from their local Cats Protection charity.
The family now plan to give both cats a home when they pick them up this weekend.
Mum-of-two Michelle, 33, said: “The boys were devastated when Phoenix went missing because he played such a big part of their lives.
“He was always bouncing and playing around. When he went missing, we’d no idea where he’d gone.
“We got told he had been taken in by an old man but we never saw him and we eventually just gave up hope of finding him.”
“It came to the point a few weeks ago where we were talking about getting a kitten. The lads were really keen on the idea because they missed Phoenix so much.
“We went to the Cats Protection and saw Orlando and went back a week later to pick him up and that is when we spotted Phoenix in the next door enclosure.”
“It was amazing and the children were so pleased. Ronnie saw him straight away and was screaming and cheering with excitement.
“He was purring as soon as we went over to him and it was amazing to be able to hold him again.
“Phoenix was still registered with his microchip as living at our old address and he had a little wonky ear, so all of that confirmed it was him.
“He became such a big part of our lives and it will be amazing to welcome him back home.”
“I don’t know what the odds are of what happened to us but I imagine they’re pretty small.”
Phoenix disappeared from the family’s home in Littleover, Derbys., last May.
Despite plastering the neighbourhood with posters, the ginger tom cat never turned up and after several months the family feared the worst.
They eventually gave up hope of finding Phoenix, who they had got as a three-year-old in 2008, and continued to look after their other moggie Ditto.
But when Ditto died last month, the family decided to go to the Cats Protection centre in Derby to pick out a new cat.
They chose a kitten called Orlando but were stunned when they turned up to pick him up on and saw Phoenix sitting in one of the enclosures.
Michelle’s partner Jay Cockroft, 38, a binman, added: “It’s a bizarre coincidence but we’ll all delighted to have Phoenix back. The boys couldn’t believe it when they saw him.”
Staff at Cats Protection told the family Phoenix had been brought in to the charity two months ago after someone took him to the vets as a stray.
Michelle added: “I know the lads are buzzing with excitement because that’s all they’re talking about.
“He’s a really friendly and pleasant cat. He’s perfect and great with the children.
“They just told us somebody had brought him in to the vets as a stray so we have no idea where he has been.
“We hadn’t updated our address on the microchip so they had travelled out to our old house but couldn’t find us so were going to rehome him.
“The staff were brilliant. I’m not sure if they’ve ever seen something like this happen before.
“They’re very professional and because they’ve cared for Phoenix so well it means we can welcome him back into our lives.”
Jane Thomas, deputy manager at Cats Protection’s Derby Adoption Centre, said: “We’re so delighted that Phoenix has been reunited with his owners and it happened completely by chance.
“When they came in to collect their new cat there was a bit of a wait and so we suggested they have a walk down to spend some time with him.
“Phoenix had recently been moved onto the homing corridor and as they walked past his pen they recognised him immediately.
“I couldn’t believe it when they came back to say they’d found their missing cat.
“Thanks to his microchip we were immediately able to verify he was theirs which just goes to show why it’s so important to microchip your cat and keep the details up to date should you move.”