Basil is back: Ilford cat reunited with owners after almost ten years

Basil the cat had been missing for nine and a half years before being reunited with his owners

Basil the cat had been missing for nine and a half years before being reunited with his owners - Credit: Wilby family

A former detective, cat rescue squad and Dagenham charity have helped reunite an Ilford pet with its owners after he went missing almost 10 years ago. 

Basil the cat went missing in 2012, leaving his owners the Wilby family distraught. 

The family searched high and low for Basil, but no amount of putting up posters and knocking on doors saw their precious pet come home.

He was registered missing via his microchip and Mrs Wilby, who did not share her first name, said the black and white cat had been "absolutely adored" by the family since he was a kitten.

She said after eight or nine months of searching the family began to believe they would "never see [Basil] again". 

Basil the cat is now 15 years old

Basil the cat is now 15 years old - Credit: Wilby family

But almost ten years later - in January 2022 - a Dagenham animal rescue centre got a call that would change everything.

Ninety-year-old Paddy Prentice, whose home is just a five-minute walk from the Wilby's, informed Meows Kitten and Cat Rescue about a visiting cat.

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A microchip scan revealed the visitor to be Basil.

She said: “This lovely cat has been visiting me for many years for food but recently he started to stay overnight so I was worried that he didn’t have a home and so I contacted a local rescue."

Volunteer Julie McGregor went on to enlist the help of Cat Squad - a Southend-based rescue charity - after being unable to reach the Wilby family via the details on Basil's chip.

Julie McGregor from Meows Kitten and Cat Rescue in Dagenham, was involved in the search for Basil's missing owners

Julie McGregor from Meows Kitten and Cat Rescue in Dagenham, was involved in the search for Basil's missing owners - Credit: Meows Kitten and Cat Rescue

Basil had been visiting a house which was a five-minute walk away from his owners' home for years while he was missing

Basil had been visiting a house which was a five-minute walk away from his owners' home for years while he was missing - Credit: Wilby family

That avenue also hit a dead end as the Wilby's had moved years earlier, meaning the Squad's volunteers could not find a forwarding address.

Just as Basil was about to be put up for rehoming, searchers then turned to social media.

After an appeal went up on the Wanstead Community Facebook group, it was group member and ex-Met detective Mary Redbourn who cracked the case. 

The former detective who likes a "challenge" found the family within half an hour. 

The Wilby family were "overcome with emotion" when reunited with Basil, who is now 15-years-old. 

Mrs Wilby reunited with her cat Basil after almost a decade

Mrs Wilby reunited with her cat Basil after almost a decade - Credit: Wilby family

Owner Mrs Wilby added: "When an animal goes missing, your brain keeps on creating stories of what might have happened.

"When you realise that none of them are true and you have got your furry friend back, it brings about a wonderful sense of peace and of being whole again.”