A CAT which was missing for over a decade has been reunited with its Dorset owners.

Taz the tabby cat escaped through an open bathroom window 14 years ago and was never seen by his owners again, until earlier this year.

Owner Mandy Prior, 51, gave up hope of seeing her pet again despite countless searches in the Parkstone area, where Mandy and her family used to live.

However, she saw Taz, now 15, on a lost and found pets page on Facebook.

Mandy said: "It's a great shock that we've got Taz back after all these years. When he first went missing, we looked and checked everywhere and put posters up all the time. We even put posters up when me moved to Branksome. There were some sightings but we never found him.

"The months and years go by and you just give up and accept you won't ever see him again."

Taz remained in the Parkstone area for all those years, living on the streets and being fed by local residents.

During the first lockdown last year, resident Chris Ward frequently saw Taz on a wall in Edward Road.

As he looked happy and healthy. she presumed Taz belonged to a resident of the road.

However, at the beginning of the current lockdown she noticed that Taz looked very unwell and decided to take him home.

Mandy said: "Chris ensured no one owned him, brought a cat basket out and took him home. Hilary Ford, who works with Cats Protection and is friends with Paula of Paula's Cat rescue, then took Taz for an assessment.

"Hilary later posted a picture of Taz on a lost and found pets page which is where I saw him. I noticed he had the same markings and something just told me that it was him."

Taz was dehydrated and had a mouth infection as a result of rotten teeth.

He was kept at Paula's Cat Rescue to build his health and strength up, as well as to have an operation.

Mandy was finally reunited with Taz the week starting February 8.

She said: "It's been amazing having him home. Straight away, he was with me all the time and meowing loudly like he used to. Taz is doing well, but he sleeps a lot as he's an older cat. He may be old, but certain traits of his haven't changed.

"Paula's Cat Rescue have been wonderful and did everything possible to get Taz home."