A cat who went missing at a motorway service station has been reunited with its owners.

The Noel family were on their way from their home in Dagenham to the Lake District for a few days when they pulled into Watford Gap services for a break.

There, they decided to take their one-year-old cat Cosmic out of his carrier and put him on a lead so he could stretch his legs and have a drink of water.

But the crafty cat managed to escape into the National Highways Traffic Officer base on the other side of the car park.

Saroja and Patrick, and their two daughters Indra, 13, and Prabha, 10, searched frantically for Cosmic with the help of traffic officers, but could not find him.

After an hour, team manager Mick Tomlinson suggested the family continue on their journey but leave Cosmic’s carrier and some food behind so he and his colleagues could keep looking. 

Mick said: “We have woods at the back of the outstation which must have felt like a playground for Cosmic.

“We were out looking, trying to entice him with food so we could build his trust and catch him but he was nowhere to be seen. 

“With the M1, a river and a railway line in close proximity we were worried for him so we all joined the hunt over differing shifts with staff buying tins of food out of their own pockets.”

The feline fugitive eventually appeared after four days but it took another week before traffic officers were able to gain his trust.

Last Tuesday (June 4), the cat walked into the base’s building where officers had put a bowl of food in his carrier.

Mick said: “He walked right in so we quickly closed the door and rang the family to tell them the good news.

“It’s a great result for us. We all wanted to find him. If there’s a feline equivalent to dogged determination, this was it.”   

The next evening, (Wednesday, 5 June) Mick drove Cosmic to Toddington Services to reunite him with his owners. 

Prabha Noel with CosmicPrabha Noel with Cosmic (Image: National Highways)

Saroja said: “We cannot believe we got him back. We are all so, so happy.

“What Mick did was wonderful. He was very patient and kept us updated every day. We cannot thank him enough.

“Cosmic is Prabha’s baby and she was so upset he’d managed to escape so to get Mick’s call saying he was safe was just amazing.  

“Cosmic meowed all the way home last night. We can’t work out if he was telling us about his adventure or telling us off for leaving him behind!”