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A cat who wandered off from his canal boat home near Birmingham has been reunited with his delighted owners a decade after going missing

Colin Clayton and Eva Bellamy, who live on their boat in the middle of Birmingham, had three cats – mum Weasel and sons Diesel and Big Ginge – who regularly hopped on and off their home. They were also used to going on trips and holidays up the canal and always returned.

ginger-and-white tabby cat

When Colin and Eva married in 2011, they honeymooned on the canal, taking the cats along for the ride as usual. When moored up near Fradley Junction, 25 miles from Birmingham, three-year-old Big Ginge went off exploring but did not come back.

“Whenever we took the cats on holiday there has never been any issue with them finding their way back, although sometimes we might have to stay an extra night if they didn’t return in time,” said Colin.

“The others came back as normal but Big Ginge didn’t so we stayed an extra five days, walking for miles around the area calling out his name and putting up posters. We registered him missing on his microchip but unfortunately we had to leave.”

navy blue canal boat moored next to grassy riverbank. Text on side of boat reads 'Funky Fish Gloucester Docks'Big Ginge's canal boat home

Fast forward 10 years and Colin received a surprise phone call to say that Big Ginge was at the Number 1 vets in Rudgley, having been taken there by our Lichfield & Tamworth Branch.

Branch Welfare Team Leader Sue Hocknell explained: “When we learned about a stray in Lichfield earlier this year, who we called Marmalade, I spent three weeks every evening attempting to trap him so I can could scan for a microchip – but he was having none of it!

“Over time a local man fed him and gradually Marmalade began to trust him. I then got a call to say Marmalade had ventured into his flat and that he had a lump on his flank. I managed to get a quick vet appointment and that’s when we discovered his true identity.”

tortoiseshell-and-white cat with two tabby ginger and two black kittens feeding from her teatsBig Ginge when he was a kitten with his mum and siblings 

Big Ginge is now back on his canal boat home, where he has been introduced to two new residents, Colin and Eva’s dogs Mutley and Misty Moo.

“Although we know where Big Ginge has been for the past year, the nine years before that are still a mystery,” said Colin. “Apart from fleas, which the vet has treated, he is in good shape. The lump on his flank doesn’t appear to be serious.

“He seems very comfy back in his home and has spent a lot of time eating and sleeping. He’s walking around, rubbing himself up against everything, and kneading Eva when sitting on her lap.

“Big Ginge and the dogs are not bothered by each other at all. For now we will be keeping him indoors. He seems very content and has shown no interest in venturing out. We feel that Big Ginge has had enough stress in his life and we are confident it will all work out.”

Sue added: “It is wonderful that we have been able to reunite Big Ginge with his owners after all this time, and his story highlights the importance of microchipping and keeping contact details up to date. It is lovely for us to play a small part in this happy ending.”

Find out more about microchipping and how it can help reunite lost cats with their owners. 

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