A couple found their cat two years after it missing – wandering around their local Aldi supermarket where he had become a local celebrity.
Smokey went missing in 2012 when he was just two-years-old and owners Jason Eynon, 42 and his wife Lindsay gave up hope of ever finding him again.
But they were shopping at Aldi, Birchwood, Warrington, a mile-and-a-half from their house, when they spotted him wandering through the car park.
The moggy instantly recognised Jason and jumped into the car to come home – but kept up his daily visits to the supermarket near their home.
Smokey – or the Aldi Cat as he is known – now visits every day, inspecting shoppers bags, making new friends and guarding the entrance to his favourite store.
Jason, a warehouse manager at Co-op said; ”It’s really quite weird because after finding him at Aldi, we moved house a few months later.
”A new Aldi had just been built about a five minute walk from our house and it became apparent that Smokey was visiting it every day.
”He really really seems to have strange affinity with that place.
“He is so popular now we’ve even had to set him up his own Facebook page which is over run with people posting snaps and updates of him.
“One person even suggested that he should turn on the Christmas lights in town!
“People have started going to Aldi just to see Smokey and then getting their shopping there as an after thought- he’s very good for business.
”They’ve even put a crisp box outside for him to sit in when he needs a rest and we’ve had to put a post on his Facebook page asking people not to feed him.
“If he’s not at Aldi he goes down to the local fishing lake where he’s mates with all the guys that fish down there.
“He really just loves people and is a very confident boy, even the local dogs in our area are intimidated by him.
“He actually knows more people on the estate than us and has become some what famous.
“Smokey is like the cat version of the Littlest Hobo.”
The couple from Newton-le-Willows, near Manchester, got Smokey when he was a kitten but the now nine-year-old cat went missing in 2012.
Devastated, Lindsay and Jason put up posters, searched the local area and asked neighbours to keep their eyes peeled.
But they gave up home when a local resident said they saw a cat resembling Smokey had been run over near by.
Jason said: ”We were desperate to recover his body so we could at least give our Smokey a proper burial so we contacted the local cattery and RSPCA just in case he’d been handed in, but nothing.
”After that and two years missing we’d really given up hope of ever seeing him again.”
In December 2015 they popped into the Aldi in Birchwood, Warrington, and Smokey wandered over.
“When he turned up out of the blue, waltzing around the supermarket car park we thought it was a miracle,” said Jason.
”It really was quite emotional but classic Smokey, he was very casual and went straight into the house after we’d driven him home, had some food and went straight upstairs to sleep in his bed as if nothing had changed.
”Smokey was a little thin and had fleas but apart from that was in perfect health!”
They think that Smokey must have been taken in and looked after as he was in such good condition.
And although happy to return home, nothing can stop socialite Smokey returning to Aldi everyday.
After the family moved house, Smokey started to visit the Newton-le-Willows branch near their new home.
He curls up on the stand selling plants, climbs onto trolleys, hangs out on the displays outside the shop and loves to make his home in empty produce boxes.
Jason said: “He’s got such an amazing personality, all our other cats, including his mum Lulu, are pretty chilled out but Smokey’s always out and about.
“I guess he just really loves supermarkets.”