Taz had been living as a stray for years but was rescued and Mandy realised it was him after she spotted a picture on Facebook (Picture: BNPS)

Back in 2007, Taz the tabby cat escaped through an open bathroom window.

Owner Mandy Prior, 51, searched for weeks and put up posters but had long given up hope of seeing him again.

She moved house from Parkstone, Poole, Dorset, to Bournemouth and was sure he would never find his way back to her.

But after 14 years apart, Taz appeared on a local lost and found pets page on Facebook a few weeks ago.

Mandy recognised him straight away from his distinct markings on his ears.

The 15-year-old pet has now been returned to Mandy.

There were ‘tears of joy’ from both her and the volunteers at Paula’s Cat Rescue who had taken Taz in.

Mandy, a carer, said: ‘It’s a great shock that we’ve got Taz back after all these years.

‘When he first went missing, we looked and checked everywhere and put posters up all the time.

‘The months and years went by and we just gave up and accepted we wouldn’t ever see him again.’

It is believed he had spent the 14 years living as a stray and was fed by local residents.

He was brought into the animal rescue shelter by resident Chris Ward who had spotted him looking unwell.

They believe he had been living as a stray since he was lost and got food from various local residents.

Taz is settling back into living with Mandy (Picture: CorinMesser/BNPS)

Mandy added: ‘Chris made sure nobody owned him, brought a cat basket out and took him home.

‘Hilary Ford, who works with Cats Protection and is friends with Paula of Paula’s Cat rescue, then took Taz for an assessment.

‘Hilary later posted a picture of Taz on a lost and found pets page which is where I saw him.

‘I noticed he had the same markings and something just told me that it was him.’

After years living on the street, Taz wasn’t in great shape when he was brought in.

He was dehydrated and had a mouth infection from his rotten teeth which caused his weight to plummet to a meagre 5lbs.

Volunteers fed him every few hours and vets performed a life-saving operation to remove his teeth.

After a month of recovery and putting weight back on, they posted the picture of him which Mandy spotted.

Since bringing him home, Taz has been settling right back into life with Mandy.

She said: ‘It’s been amazing having him home. Straight away, he was with me all the time and meowing loudly like he used to.

‘Taz is doing well, but he sleeps a lot as he’s an older cat now. He may be old, but certain traits of his haven’t changed.

‘Paula’s Cat Rescue have been wonderful and did everything possible to get Taz home.’

Paula Pelosi, of Paula’s Cat Rescue, said: ‘It is almost unique that Mandy could be reunited with Taz after so long.

‘We believe he must have lived on the streets for all these years and when he went missing he was a young, healthy cat so the residents who fed him probably thought he had a home.

‘But he was really in a bad way when he was bought in to us. He was so frail and must have only weighed 5lbs.

‘He didn’t know he was going to make it. The operation on his rotten teeth saved his life as he was unable to eat.

‘We’ve put all our hearts into nursing him back to health.

‘It is amazing that Mandy recognised him after so long and when they were reunited there were tears of joy. We were so thrilled.’

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