Return brings a Sunny Christmas
Sunny eventually came home for Christmas.
A large, grey tabby, the 10-year-old moggie had been missing since last Christmas Day, when he wandered off from Jensen St.
His family spread hundreds of fliers around the neighbourhood while trying to find him, and had several calls about lookalikes.
"But after about four months, we thought we were never going to see him again," said Shane McCarthy.
"Because we did not know, we didn't really grieve and move on.
"We just hoped somebody found him and looked after him."
Eight days short of a year on the loose, Sunny shows few signs of having been living rough.
He was calm and relaxed and happy to be handled when Mr McCarthy and daughter Hannah came to collect him from the SPCA, checking the colour of every toe for confirmation it was their Sunny.
Mr McCarthy thinks he has lost weight and looks a bit grubby, but SPCA manager Danny Auger declared him in good condition, with teeth as healthy as those of a cat half his age.
He was brought into the SPCA after he followed a woman to Alan St from UCOL.
The reunion was made possible by a microchip, which allowed the SPCA to track his family almost instantly.
The McCarthys had taken advantage of a $5 deal with the SPCA early last year to have Sunny and his brother Monty micro-chipped.
"It's just amazing," said Mr McCarthy, stroking the errant moggie.
"Do you know how much stress you had us under?"
Sunny would not say.
Mr Auger said the happy ending was a great example of the benefit of having pets micro-chipped.
An average of a pet a week in Palmerston North is returned to its owners using the identification system.
"Before that campaign, the number of strays through the centre was out of control."
Connecting a cat with its owners was a win for everyone, a joy for families and a saving for the SPCA, which would otherwise have the costs of housing and feeding it.
And Sunny's reappearance just before Christmas after a long separation was the sort of outcome SPCA staff loved.