A woman lost her cat seven years ago and recently received the best knock ever on her front door.
Stephanie Barstow, a 35-year-old executive assistant from Corby, England, got a shocking piece of news: Her lost cat had been found.
Barstow shared her story with SWNS and explained that one of her two cats, Duke, disappeared in January 2017 after two years of living with her.
The now-mom of two said she and other members of the community searched for the cat for nearly eight months before finally giving up.
“I’m not completely sure why Duke didn’t come home,” she said.
Barstow said she had two cats at the time, Duke and his brother Nero, whom she said Duke got into a bit of a fight with the night before Duke disappeared.
“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,” she said to SWNS.
Last month, nearly seven years after Duke went missing, Barstow received unexpected news.
A veterinarian came to Barstow’s home to tell her that Duke had been found at a nearby factory — just 900 feet from her home.
“The vet recognized Duke because of his distinctive facial markings and white paws and had remembered that I was looking for him,” she said to SWNS, the British news service.
The vet went on to say that Duke had been taken in by factory members and spent time there for the last year, although his whereabouts before that were unknown.
“They had even built him a little shed to sleep in and a feeding station,” she said.
The factory was recently deemed unsafe for Duke, however — which is how he ended up at the vet, according to SWNS.
“I was really worried that if he came home, he might go back to the factory where it was no longer safe for him,” Barstow said.
This fear, plus the new additions to the family since Duke left seven years ago, led Barstow to decide to give Duke to a different family.
“I just felt so much guilt over what happened to him,” she said as part of the reason she didn’t want to bring Duke back to her home.
Instead, the cat went to a new owner, which Barstow said is a “perfect” fit for him, with quiet and open space.
Now, she’s sharing her story to give hope to other pet owners in a similar situation.
“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,” she said.