A pet cat that has been missing for six years has finally been reunited with his owners after being presumed dead.
The black cat, named Jimi Hendrix, is back with his family after a rescue charity scanned his microchip and then used Facebook to reunite them.
Joanna Farmer and her husband Nik lost Jimi in 2016, and despite searching for him extensively at the time he remained missing - until now.
Presumed dead after going missing
Jimi escaped from an open window of the house he was staying in, in Torquay, Devon, in August 2016, when Joanna and Nik, who are parents of three children, had to leave him with a friend.
When their searches for him at the time proved unsuccessful, and the years passed, they felt they had no choice but to presume that their beloved pet had sadly died.
Joanna said: "I bought Jimi as a kitten when I lived in Southend in Essex. I wasn’t actually a big fan of cats before him, but his nature was just so lovely. Jimi was so affectionate, he’d be sitting on me all the time.
“When I was pregnant he’d sit on my bump, and when I had my son they were best friends - he really looked after my little boy. In the summer of 2016 my mum fell ill so we had to move in with her temporarily, but she had a dog so I had to give Jimi and his brother Frankie to a friend for a little while.
"He saw an open window in her bathroom and that was it, he was gone. It was horrible, absolutely heartbreaking. "I literally had lost my best friend. We searched everywhere for him, there were even a few sightings but they never turned out to be him.
"We went back to our old house to see if he was there, but in the end there was nothing more I could do. "He was microchipped and I’d flagged him as missing, so I knew if he was found I’d know but he never was so that was it, until now.”
Reunited thanks to a pet charity and Facebook
In the years after Jimi went missing, Joanna and Nik moved away from Torquay and now live in Brixham, Devon, with their kitten and three children aged six, four and two. Their youngest two children and their kitten had never met Jimi, and their eldest child did not remember meeting him as he was only a baby when he was born.
The six year search for Jimi only ended earlier in October due to a chance call to a Torquay-based charity, Hector’s House Cat Rescue. A woman had noticed a cat regularly sleeping outside her house in Babbacome, Devon, on her security camera whilst she lived away. She notified the charity, who went to find the stray cat on Friday 14 October.
At first, Jimi was too wary to be caught, so volunteers decided to use a humane trap to catch him. Once they had him safely back at the rescue centre they scanned his microchip and discovered he had been reported as missing six years ago.
However, as Joanna and Nik had moved house the details registered to his microchip were all out of date, so the charity took to social media and posted an appeal to Facebook in the hope of tracking down Jimi’s owners - and they were shocked at just how quickly they found them.
Zara Oldfield, from Hector’s House Cat Rescue said: "It was amazing, within an hour we had Joanne contact us. She was stunned, absolutely stunned. She thought he was long dead. She lives 15 miles away from Torquay, so she came and saw him on Saturday morning.
"I recorded their meeting, because I’m curious to see if cats recognise their owners after so long.
“At first he didn’t have a clue but I advised her to keep talking, as sound and voice is what cats respond to the most. After about four minutes, he gave her a long look and then he started headbutting her hand - he knew who she was."
“He hasn’t changed, he’s just older”
Since going back to his new home, Jimi has settled straight back in, and is loving being part of a brand new bigger family.
Joanna said: "I just couldn’t believe it, my mouth literally dropped. It was like he hadn’t been missing, he looked exactly the same. Circumstances have changed of course, I have three children and a new kitten now, but he’s been absolutely fine.
"He’s been fine with the children and he lays on me like he used to, giving love and affection. He hasn’t changed, he’s just six years older. I’m still pinching myself, it’s just incredible."
Now, Hector’s House are calling for everyone to make sure their cats are microchipped so that if they too become missing they can be returned safely to their families.
Zara Oldfield said: "If Jimi hadn’t been microchipped, then he would still be out on the street and most likely would have never come home. This is a lesson in why you should microchip your pets. People never think their cat is going to go missing until it happens to them."