Missing pets: Cat lost for seven years found 300 yards from home - with moment his owner told caught on film

Stephanie had spent eight months searching for Duke, fearing her cat had been killed by a fox, before giving up hope
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A cat missing since 2017 has been reunited his original owner, after being found just 300 yards down the street.

Stephanie Barstow, from Corby, Northamptonshire, bought her Bengal kitten Duke and his brother Nero in May 2015. She spent months searching for him after he disappeared two years later, but eventually gave up hope she would ever see her cat again.

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So she told SWNS she was shocked when a local vet knocked on her door last month and told her Duke had been found in a factory not far from her house - a heart-warming moment captured on her Ring doorbell camera. “When I first opened the door, I thought it was a debt collector or someone like that, because she asked me to confirm my name – I was panicking. But she was a vet," she said.

The last picture of Stephanie and Duke before his disappearance in 2017 (Stephanie Barstow / SWNS)The last picture of Stephanie and Duke before his disappearance in 2017 (Stephanie Barstow / SWNS)
The last picture of Stephanie and Duke before his disappearance in 2017 (Stephanie Barstow / SWNS)

“She asked me if I was the owner of a cat called Duke – I couldn’t believe it. She told me that he had been found just 300 yards away from my home at a factory." Ms Barstow said she "completely broke down" to discover he was still alive.

She had bought the kitten siblings after the birth of her first child, and was left devastated when Duke disappeared. “I’m not completely sure why Duke didn’t come home that night," she said. "I just remember he had a little bit of a fight with Nero and I knew something was not quite right. We had just had the baby too, so there was a lot of change going on and I know cats don’t really like change.

"I got very depressed and stressed about it," she continued. "I was scared because one of the neighbour’s cats had been killed by a fox at the time – I thought he might have been in danger."

Duke and his brother Nero as kittens (Stephanie Barstow / SWNS)Duke and his brother Nero as kittens (Stephanie Barstow / SWNS)
Duke and his brother Nero as kittens (Stephanie Barstow / SWNS)
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Ms Barstow and her family carried out an intensive search at the time, including a nearby woodland, and knocked on doors and and left posters across the neighbourhood. But after eight months of searching, and with no reported sightings of Duke, she gave up the search – but always remained hopeful that Duke would return one day.

Ms Barstow said that since Duke was initially micro-chipped, the contact number she provided at the time had been incorrect when he was first found. “Luckily enough though, the vet had recognised Duke because of his distinctive facial markings and white paws, and had remembered that I was looking for him. She tried ringing the number assigned to the microchip and it didn’t work, so she drove straight to my house instead."

Duke had been taken in by staff at the factory, and is believed to have been there all this time. "They had even built him a little shed to sleep in and a feeding station. But they since had to bring him to the vet as it was no longer safe at the factory for him," she said. After Duke had been found, Stephanie had to make a decision about whether to bring him home.

However, her circumstances had sadly changed with a new dog and another child - and she feared he would wander back to the factory nearby, which was no longer safe for him. Ms Barstow said she decided to rehome him. “I just felt so much guilt over what had happened to him, so I went to visit his new owner... She had just had her house renovated and it’s got so much open space and is quiet – it was perfect. It was a very difficult decision but I think it was the best one for Duke," she said.

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Ms Barstow said Duke's story showed that people who are looking for a missing pet should never lose hope. “I wanted to share my story to give hope to other animal lovers and people in my situation to never give up – you never know what might happen.”

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