A young cat lover has been reunited with her missing feline – two years after it disappeared without a trace.
Lili Cooper, 9, refused to give-up hope after her beloved Noddy mysteriously vanished from his Exeter family home in March 2012.
And the city schoolgirl was delighted to learn recently that her six-year-old tomcat had been found – some 30 miles away in Princetown, Dartmoor.
Noddy was returned to Lili on Saturday, and is now adjusting to life back in Mount Pleasant.
Lili, who is in Year 5 at Ladysmith Junior School, said: “When the woman came in with the basket, I jumped up and down. I was very sad when he disappeared, but now I’m so happy.”
Charlotte, 42, and Rhodri, 40, Cooper, bought Noddy from the RSPCA in 2010, in spite of his unique head posture.
Charlotte Cooper, 42, said: “Nobody really wanted him. He’d been passed around because people saw his head as a medical problem. But then he saw Lili and fell in love with him.”
The British shorthair lived happily with the family for two years until his sudden disappearance when the family were on holiday in Italy.
Upon their return they launched a search party across the city, and even offered a £100 reward for finding him.
Mrs Cooper said: “We were out every night looking for him. So many people thought they’d seen him, but they hadn’t noticed a distinctive head.”
It is thought the tomcat climbed into a removal truck near the family home, and was driven to West Devon.
Noddy lived with an elderly man near the moorland prison for two years until the gentleman was taken into hospital recently and the cat was returned to the rescue centre.
Mrs Cooper said: “We never gave-up hope he would return one day, because we knew somehow he was still alive. But after two years we didn’t really expect it to happen.”
Then the family received a call from Okehampton RSPCA on March 24 after the centre had traced him back to their address through the cat’s chip.
Mrs Cooper said: “Lili and I both burst into tears. As I was talking on the phone to the centre, I got a text from Rhodri saying ‘They’ve found Noddy!’ We were amazed.”
The challenge has been for the ‘charmingly horrible’ Noddy to reintegrate to living alongside elder tomcat Marmalade, Lily’s other feline.
Mrs Cooper said: “Noddy and Marmalade never got on. Noddy was the king of the road, as cats go, because he came first. But he is now scared of Marmalade who became happy in his absence. He’s come back the softest, soppiest cat ever.”