More than two years after she disappeared from her Far South Coast farm, Maddie the black cat has been found safe just over 100km away in Batemans Bay.
Microchipped Maddie has been returned to her Cobargo home, thanks to the Eurobodalla branch of the RSPCA, after being found in Surfside.
Her "dumbfounded" but delighted owner Carolyn Cole believes the elderly, but adventurous cat - now thought to be 19 years old - hitchhiked her way north.
"Whenever anybody came to visit, she used to jump in their car, looking for food," Mrs Cole said.
"She was a real scavenger. We think she jumped into someone's car and went for a drive.
"We will be extra careful in future."
On Tuesday, June 25, cat and Cole family were reunited in Moruya.
"I was trying not to cry," Mrs Cole said.
"Maddie just disappeared. It was awful. For about 12 months, we thought she would turn up again one day, but we had given up hope."
The family's initial reaction was disbelief.
"We were dumbfounded. We could not believe it, but they sent photos," Mrs Cole said.
Her adventurous streak was echoed in a particular mark on her fur.
"She has a particular white flick on one leg; other than that she is jet black, so we knew it was her straight away," Mrs Cole said.
The reunion, however, had to be delayed, as the family was booked to go away the day after learning of Maddie's survival.
"The RSPCA rang us the day before we were leaving for a six-week holiday," Mrs Cole said.
"They very kindly looked after her for us. She is in amazing condition."
By Tuesday afternoon Maddie was back at her Yowrie Road farm, eight kilometres out of Cobargo, and Mrs Cole was convinced the cat knew she was home.
"She seems very relaxed," Mrs Cole said.
"I honestly think she knows where she is."
Maddie came to a family member from the Animal Welfare League in 2004 and was understood to be four years old. She moved to the family farm in 2006, where she showed her independent mind.
"She was not a pick up and cuddle cat," Mrs Cole said.
"She liked to sit on your knee and be tickled and patted, but like most cats, was fairly independent.
"I think she could have lived easily in the wild, but she is in too good a condition to have been living in the wild (since September 2016). Someone must have been looking after her."
Mrs Cole said Maddie's case proved microchipping was "indispensable".
"If you are going to have a pet, it is essential to have them microchipped," she said.
The Eurobodalla RSPCA was contacted in May after a Surfside woman found a "very hungry" cat on her verandah.
"The cat, a short-haired black and white female, stayed for three weeks. That was when RSPCA was contacted, because this lady was unable to keep a cat," a spokeswoman said..
"As a matter of course, RSPCA checked for a microchip.
"Amazingly, Maddie had gone missing from Cobargo in September 2016. Her owners slowly lost hope that she would ever come home.
"The reunion had to wait until the end of June, but it finally happened, and was a joyous occasion."
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