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Charlie, a 3-year-old tabby, had been missing in Queenstown since last May.
Owner, Joanne Conroy and her husband went overseas for a five-week holiday last year, leaving Charlie with their son, Chris.
"While we were away, my son saw him twice.
"When we came home, Chris said, ‘I haven’t seen the cat for about three weeks’ and we said ‘Oh, well, now that we’re home he’ll come back’.
"And he didn’t."
Mrs Conroy looked high and low for Charlie.
Having given up hope, the other day she went through the "emergency food store" and discovered cat food.
She brought it home, intending to deliver it to her daughter, in Dunedin, when they next visited.
It was just as well she had not yet made that trip.
On Thursday night, Mrs Conroy was at home and thought she heard a cat meow.
"I thought ‘I’m dreaming’.
"Next thing he comes through the cat door.
"I just went ‘You’ve got to be joking’."
After a long overdue home-prepared meal, Charlie — complete with the signature nick from his ear — hopped up on the back of her lounge chair and went in for snuggles.
"He’s slim, but he looks really well — he’s clean and tidy and healthy-looking, so he’s got to have been fed somewhere."
Mrs Conroy said he had decided to stay and has been home since.