A NSW South Coast woman said "it was a complete shock" when she received the call that her beloved cat had been found after being missing for a year.
Mandy Lawson received the call from the Shoalhaven Animal Shelter on Tuesday that her pure white cat, Mr Lulu, was handed in by someone who spotted him wandering around South Nowra.
When Mandy surprised her daughters Laci, 11, and Bella, six, with the news, tears streamed from their cheeks.
"My girls came home from school and I said 'close your eyes and put out your hands,'" said Mandy.
Mr Lulu went missing when Mandy and her family moved house from South Nowra to Worrigee a year ago. He had been part of the family for two years before he was lost.
After six months of searching and many tears shed, Mandy and her daughters finally accepted the likelihood their gorgeous pet could have passed away. They gave up the hunt.
"My kids accepted the fact he was probably deceased because we never heard anything from social media and we'd never found him in our searches," said Mandy.
"We assumed he could have been hit by a car, so to receive the call to say he was at the shelter was an absolute shock.
"He was found in South Nowra so I'm assuming he went back to the old house, which I'd driven passed a million times and had never found him."
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Senior Animal Attendant at the Shoalhaven Animal Shelter, Sharon Johnson, said while it is rewarding reuniting pets with their owners, it is important people hand in animals to the shelter when they find them.
"Sometimes people think they are doing the right thing by finding an animal, keeping it and looking after it," said Sharon.
"Mr Lulu wasn't in bad health or condition. So there's no way he was wandering around for a year and it's likely someone had him.
"If you find an animal always take it to a vet, ranger or shelter to scan for a microchip. In this case, it could have saved a family a year of wondering what happened to their cat."
Mandy said it's clear Mr Lulu is happy to be back with his family.
"He's doing really well and he recognised us straight away," she said.
"Just the way that he was rubbing up against us and wanted to get on our laps. He was all smoochie and at one point there he even tried to hop over my shoulder. He won't stop following the girls around."
Mandy isn't sure who handed in Mr Lulu in to the pound, but extended her gratitude to whoever it was.
For other pet owners, Mandy's main message is "to get your animals micro-chipped, because you just never know."