A cat went on a miraculous 250-mile journey across England leaving his owner stunned.
Marshall, a six-year-old tomcat who lives in Darwen, Lancashire, went missing 11 weeks ago at the beginning of February but was found 79 days later on a busy road in Rochester, Kent.
His new carer, Lynne Ashman, 49, took him to the vets as she noticed he was microchipped and was perplexed when she realised he came from so far away.
Six-year-old tomcat Marshall (pictured) went missing from his home in Darwen, Lancashire in February but was found 11 weeks later in Kent on May 3
Marshall had travelled over 250 miles across England, leaving both his regular owner and new carer stunned
She contacted Marshall’s owner, Sam Spragg, 27, who believed she had lost him forever, with the black and white shorthair domestic cat waiting in Kent until it is safe for him to be transported back up north due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Ms Spragg, who works as a wedding and events coordinator, could not believe her cat had made such a journey and suspects he may have jumped in a courier van.
She said: ‘I’d love to know how he disappeared to Kent. It’s a complete mystery.
‘I assume he probably jumped on the back of a van or a wagon and ended up down there.
‘But I’m so glad he is safe and being cared for. I miss him and can’t wait to have him home.’
Running away from home is normal behaviour for Marshall, according to his owner, but the tomcat, who goes by the nickname ‘The Bolton Wanderer’ due to Ms Spragg’s favourite football team, only spends a couple nights away from home at a time.
Marshall’s owner, Sam Spragg (pictured), a 27-year-old wedding and events organiser, says the tomcat had run away from home before but only for a couple of days at a time
The wedding planner revealed that she began to panick when Storm Ciara hit the UK and he had still not returned.
She added: ‘At first, I didn’t think anything of it. Marshall is always in and out of the house so when he goes away for a couple of days, he always comes back.
‘That’s just normal behaviour for Marshall – he’s so adventurous.
‘He’s a very sociable cat so I thought he would either be in a back garden somewhere or saying hello to care home residents.
‘I was just trying to keep positive but when you don’t hear back for so long, you start to fear the worst. I thought I had lost him forever.
After weeks of contacting lost and found animal groups on Facebook, Marshall’s finally received news from Ms Ashman who had found the tomcat over 250 miles away from home on May 3.
New carer Lynne Ashman (pictured), 49, found Marshall on a busy road in Rochester and found out where he had come from after she took him to the vet to get him microchipper
Ms Ashman said that Marshall was surprisingly well-fed despite being away from home for three months
And Ms Ashman was astounded to see how healthy the cat was despite being away from his home for three months, and the six-year-old is certainly settling in to his new temporary home with his carer and her eleven-year-old son.
She said: ‘After 11 weeks away from home, you would’ve thought that the poor thing would be starving to death but that clearly wasn’t the case.
‘He was certainly well-fed when he was making his journey down here.
‘He just struts about the place [Ms Ashman’s house] as if it’s his manor.
‘He’s just wonderful in every way possible – he’s not too chunky, he’s nice and petite.
‘We even call him Phantom – from Phantom of the Opera – because of the white patch on his face.’
Marshall’s ‘two owners’ are working hard alongside a cat charity to try and get Marshall home during the coronavirus lockdown
The coronavirus lockdown and the social distancing guidelines linked with the pandemic mean it is proving to be a challenge to get Marshall back to his Lancashire home.
While cat charity Just Cats North West work on the tomcat’s return, Marshall’s two owners – both permanent and temporary – are striking up a close bond.
Ms Ashman, who sends Ms Spragg videos and pictures on a daily basis, says: ‘Our conversations have led to a new friendship.’