25-year-old cat makes mystery journey from Australia to Northern Ireland
Published 19/06/2015 | 08:18
It's a purrfect riddle - how did an Australian Tomcat end up in Co Armagh?
The cat was picked up by Armagh Cats Protection earlier this week in a rather bedraggled state.
And when the affectionate ginger Tom was taken to the vet for a health check it was discovered that he had been microchipped in Australia, 12,000 miles away.
It seems likely that the cat was taken by an owner to London and somehow then crossed the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland in the years that followed.
Cats Protection co-ordinator Gillian McMullen told the Belfast Telegraph how the cat - now renamed Ozzie - came under her care.
"I responded to a call from a member of the public last Monday evening who was concerned about a poorly stray cat that had been hanging around her garden for several days in the Laurelvale area outside Portadown," she said.
"The poor cat was starving but obviously had been cared for in the past because it was wearing a collar.
"I took it to Willow Veterinary Clinic on the Mahon Road, Portadown, where we discovered it was microchipped and this is where the mystery begins.
"The cat had originally been microchipped in Australia.
"Then in 2004 he turned up as a stray in a London vet clinic but no details whatever were logged against the microchip."
As the mystery has deepened as to who really owns Ozzie and how he came to be here, Cats Protection volunteer Joy McCaw from Portadown is patiently waiting for him to leave the vets with the all-clear.
Joy said: "I will be fostering Ozzie after his test results come through and I can't wait to have him.
"He really is a big, affectionate friendly cat and he's bigger than our average Tomcats, which we've been told is the norm for Australian cats.
"He's quite old and must be at least over 11.
"He wasn't in the best condition when he was picked up but he's doing much better now."
She added: "We are fascinated about his story and how many people have cared for him over the years.
"We think perhaps he wandered off in London and had been looked after my someone else who took him to the vet's."
Cats Protection are interested in finding out more about Ozzie and his time in Northern Ireland.
Gillian said: "We are desperate to unravel the rest of this cat's past and hopefully reunite him with his owners.
"We have been in touch with the Australian Animal Register and have our fingers and paws crossed on word from them on this cat."