A CAT LOVER who never gave up hope when her puss went missing could not believe her eyes when she turned up 13 years later.

Sue Hopkins brought Hermione the tortoiseshell tabby home to Redbridge to play with her daughter Emma and their other cat Snowy in 2004.

When she struggled to get on with her fellow feline, Hermione had to be looked after by a neighbour while the family made arrangements.

But then the unthinkable happened – she disappeared, leaving Sue and Emma devastated.

The mother-of-three was forced to come to terms with the fact she may never see her beloved pet again, but still clung onto the hope she might turn up, changing her microchip details when they moved house.

The family moved another three times before settling in Walthamstow, with Sue changing the microchip details every time just in case.

She said: “My daughter would always ask me why I kept calling to update the details.

“But it only takes 30 seconds to pick up the phone so just because of that one in a million chance I thought I would keep doing it.”

Last month the RSPCA got a phone call from someone in Billericay, Essex, who was concerned about a female tortoiseshell cat that had been left alone after its owner died.

When they went to investigate a few days later they found her malnourished and suffering from fur loss and fleas.

The man’s daughter explained the cat was not actually his – so when they found her microchip they managed to trace her home address 27 miles away in London.

To Sue’s astonishment it was Hermione.

RSPCA inspectors Rebecca Benson, Mitchell Smith, Karl Marston and Adam Jones brought her home where she was eventually reunited with Sue, Emma, now in her 20s, her 10-year-old daughter Isabel and four-year-old son Leo.

Sue added: “If she hadn’t been microchipped she could well still be scavenging for food or she could have even starved to death.

“It just goes to show you should always get your cat chipped and keep your details up to date, and never give up hope.

“I’m so glad the person who found her reported her to the RSPCA, I’m really grateful to everyone who helped get her home.”

She was shocked at Hermione’s gaunt appearance when she first came home, but she is now “hoovering up” her food and learning to get along with her old foe Snowy and the new cat Toffee.

RSPCA cat welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “ This is an incredible story which shows Sue’s dedication and commitment to never give up on seeing her again.

“While it is heartbreaking to lose a pet, if they are microchipped there is a small part of reassurance that should they be found they will make their way back home to you.

“I’m so pleased to hear about Hermione’s miraculous story and that this tale has a happy ending.”

Pet owners are not legally obliged to microchip their cats like they are with dogs, but the RSPCA heavily recommends it.