By Fiona Jackson

A cat that vanished at Gloucester Services during a family stop has been found still living there - seven months later.

Two-year-old cat Millie leapt free from her basket while her owners Shaun Ore, 56, and Pauline Dearing, 42 stopped last June.

The frantic couple spent nine hours searching the service station for their beloved pet, before leaving to continuing their journey.

But this week they were contacted by Louise Davies from Animals Lost and Found in Gloucestershire (Alfig) to say the cat had been found by staff at the services.

Pauline said: "She was just Millie, I gave her a big cuddle and she went belly up in my arms."

Shaun said: "I was a bit wary if she might bite but she was normal when she saw us, she's gone back to her old sort of ways.

"To survive on the M5 is just amazing."

Shaun and Pauline, who now have four other cats, were making the journey from West Bromwich back to St Ives, Cornwall on June 12 when they made a pit stop on the M5.

They adopted brown and black-coloured Millie after Pauline lost her father, and she accompanied them on their trip to help her get used to car journeys.

When they got her out of her crate to stretch her legs, Millie managed to wiggle free of her harness and dashed out over the grass that covers the Gloucester Services building.

The distraught couple then got permission to search the premises and roof, but eventually were forced to give up.

Shaun said: "It was devastating to be honest, I didn't want to leave.

"I went back up a few times, I took her favourite treats.

"You're used to having something there day and night and then suddenly something had left."

Pauline said: "We got Millie for a bit of companionship and something to cuddle.

"After she disappeared it affected us all to be quite frank.

"We didn't think we'd ever see her again."

When they got home, Pauline contacted Louise at Alfig who who then spent hours with her team searching for Millie.

They put up posters and spoke to people at the services and in nearby villages Brookthorpe and Matson.

But only five weeks ago did Louise herself get a call from Dan Jenkins from Gloucester Services to report he'd spotted a cat that matched Millie's description.

Unfortunately, Millie had now gotten used to nomad life and wouldn't let Dan get close, but in early January Louise received another call from the services.

Manager Tom Hibberd said he'd been able to lure in the cat with some food, so Louise returned and managed to catch it.

After scanning the kitty's microchip, they found that the runaway was indeed Millie and was able to reunite her with Shaun and Pauline.

Pauline said: "We were shocked!

"I actually texted her back to say 'are you joking?'"

The delighted couple were thrilled when Millie went straight over to Pauline, and has since made herself comfy sleeping in her old favourite spots in their house.

Millie was adopted as a feral kitten from a rescue and believes that her experiences early on in life made her resilient and able to survive on her own for so long.

Shaun and Pauline have since made a donation to Alfig, an entirely volunteer-run group based in Cheltenham but covering the whole county.