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A family was left stunned and overwhelmed when the cat they were mourning turned up at their house.
Rachel Fitzsimons and her family were devastated when their beloved feline Frankie didn't come home on 19 May.
Rachel, husband John and their children - 10-year-old Thea and seven-year-old Remy - began searching the local area in Warrington, Cheshire, and after a few days they made a heart-breaking discovery on a hard shoulder.
"We drove past a few times, obviously at speed, but the cat looked like Frankie," Rachel told the Manchester Evening News.
"My husband managed to get a photo too, but the cat was very badly injured and hard to identify.
"We called the Highways Agency [now Highways England] who were very helpful and went out several times to look for the body. I gave them a description of Frankie; a fluffy tabby with a white tummy, and the dead cat matched that.
"They couldn't chip it because it had been decapitated. We live very close to the motorway, so it seemed likely that it was our cat.
"We went to collect the body, and of course didn't look at it because it was too distressing."
Keen to allow her children the opportunity to grieve the 16-year-old cat, Rachel paid for a cremation.
She said: "Remy usually slept with Frankie on his bed every night, so he was distraught when he went missing. He cried and cried.
"When we got the ashes, Remy put them by his bed. We were all in tears for days afterwards."
But last Thursday (10 June) - 22 days after Frankie went missing - an 'amazing moment' stunned the family, leaving Remy unable to discern fantasy from reality.
Rachel said: "My husband heard a meow outside and then I heard him shouting. We all ran out and there was Frankie! Remy was crying and asking: 'Is he real?' It was an amazing moment.
"He was bedraggled and very thin, but we got him checked over at the vets and he's fine. We've no idea where he's been but just feel so lucky to have him back.
"My two children are thrilled to have him home, they are making a big fuss of him, and he's back on Remy's bed each night.
"It's true what they say about nine lives - but Frankie can't have many left at this rate!"
And so, the tale had the happiest of endings; now the family just have to decide what to do with the ashes of the dead cat they unknowingly cremated.
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