THREE years after her cat Lola went missing, and having moved to a new home in the meantime, Jodie Luce had given up hope of seeing her again.

But thanks to the magic of microchipping and some dogged detective work by a team of animal lovers, pet and owner have been reunited and Lola is settling back in to family life alongside her brother, Charlie.

The heartwarming tale began in Bulbridge, Wilton, where Alice Pymble, 66, heard about a black-and-white cat sheltering in doorways and begging for food and cuddles.

“This had been going on for months,” said the retired BT administrator, “and people were getting fed up with her crying and trying to get into their houses.

“My neighbour Maggie Poulton and I went in search of her, with backup from our ‘paper girl’ Bev.

“The poor cat was terribly thin and very hungry. We fed her morning and night to gain her trust, and she began to look for us.

“Another neighbour eventually caught her and I took her to Avon Lodge vets, who checked her over without charging, found she was microchipped, and traced her owner.

“We’d booked a place in a rescue centre, so my heart sank in case she had to be returned to an uncaring home.

“But Jodie was delightful.

When she came to collect her, Lola had been hiding in a cupboard in my spare room, but she heard her voice and crept out straight away. It was very sweet.”

Secretary Mrs Luce, 32, now lives in Downton, and was only found via her email address.

The mother of four and her husband Dave had acquired another cat and a puppy since losing Lola, so now have a very full house.

She said: “We never thought we’d see her again. I’m so thankful to Alice for looking after her. Lola and her brother look very alike, like bookends sitting together.”

Mrs Pymble, a widow with two cats of her own, said: “This just shows how important microchipping your pet is, and how local communities can work together.”