It's every owner's worst nightmare to discover that their beloved pet had disappeared, especially far from home.
This is what happened to Katie Kane, who was left heartbroken when her 9-year-old black and white cat Tootsies, escaped from her car 250 miles into the family’s 16-hour journey to their new home in southern France.
Katie, her husband Sam, two daughters and pets Tootsie the cat and Snowy the dog were on their way from Stirling in Scotland to start their new life in Grenoble when they decided to take a break at Markham Moor service station on the A1.
But when they opened the car door, little Tootsie broke out of her cat carrier and ran off into nearby woodland.
The family were left devastated.
"He ran into the woods and just disappeared. We were there for an hour calling but we just couldn't get him back,” Katie told Lincolnshire Live.
"We have cried ever since and I've not been sleeping well - it's been really bad."
The family did everything they could to track down their missing feline. They posted online appeals, had posters put up, offered rewards and kept in touch with the RSPCA.
A number of kind-hearted local volunteers even went out to look for him.
But despite everyone's efforts, there was no sign of Tootsies anywhere.
My Baby Boy ??? Still Missing!!! ❗️£250 REWARD❗️ https://www.facebook.com/groups/1100364343684476/?ref=gs&fref=gs&dti=1100364343684476&hc_location=groupPosted by K.T. Kat on Sunday, October 6, 2019
Just when the family were starting to give up all hope that they would ever see their feline friend again, Tootsies was spotted on CCTV just after Christmas. Traps were put out in the area, in the hope to catch the runaway.
And it worked!
Tootsies was successfully recaptured. Despite living rough while on his own, the cat only had a mild infection but was otherwise in good health. He was then taken to a local branch of Cats Protection.
From her new home in France, Katie said: "We are over the moon, I am ecstatic. It is one of the best days of my life. It's incredible, he had been living rough and he was quite mucky but he's in quite good shape considering. He was caught with a dead mouse - I think it is typical Tootsies, he's always thinking of his stomach.
“He's got a slight chest infection and a little bit of fluid on the lungs, Cats Protection have put him on antibiotics so hopefully the fluid will be cleared. I want to get him home as soon as possible.”
Katie and her family have set up a donations page to cover the costs of getting Tootsies to them in France.