A family have been left distraught after their pet cat disappeared when he climbed into a supermarket delivery van and was driven away from his home.
The cherished pet - a two-year-old fluffy tabby called Ozzy - ended up in a village eight miles away ... and has not been seen since.
Now his owners are desperate to get him back but fear for his future because of a delay in discovering exactly where he was last seen.
Owner Kay Carter-Morley - whose daughter Mia Terry saved up to buy Ozzy when he was a kitten - said that Ozzy vanished on June 16 after Tesco’s made a delivery to their home in Wisborough Green.
“We found out through social media that Ozzy jumped into the van here and got out at Loxwood, about eight miles away.”
She said mixed messages originally led her to believe that Ozzy had got out of the van near their home and, because of that, they did not start looking for him in Loxwood until two days later when told that he had been seen getting out of the van there.
Kay’s daughter Mia, who is currently in Asia, has been co-ordinating an internet search for Ozzy while Kay has contacted veterinary surgeries, the local council, cat rescue organisations, the RSPCA, local radio stations and the police.
In a post on Facebook, Mia said: “My baby Ozzy was trapped in a Tesco’s delivery van at our house on the outskirts of Wisborough Green on 16th June and leapt out a 15-min drive later in Glebelands, Loxwood, and ran towards Nicholsfield Road.”
She added: “He has been missing for weeks and it feels like a part of me is missing. I wake up every morning and the first thing I check is to see if there is any update.
“I just want to say a huge thank-you to everyone who has helped with this, complete strangers to me and my family going out in the streets calling for him, volunteering to put up flyers, and endless sharing of his missing post. You are all angeles and I am eternally grateful for all your kindness.
“I have faith. I will not give up on Ozzy. It is not over until we find him.”
In desperation, Mia’s mum Kay wrote to Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis saying: “We are deeply upset by the loss of Ozzy, and now, over two weeks later, fear that he will not be found. The unknown element is something which we have to live with daily, which is totally draining.”
Kay says that she has heard of other cats suffering similar fates when they have climbed into grocery vans and been driven away.
Now she wants Tesco to urge drivers to close their van doors while making deliveries.
Meanwhile, she says, she feels ‘insulted’ that Tesco offered her a bunch of flowers ‘to say sorry for what you have all been through.’
She said: “It’s insulting when you bear in mind that Ozzy is like a family member.”
A spokesman for Tesco said: “We were very sorry to hear about this incident involving one of our delivery vehicles.
“On hearing the news our local store team worked to help Mrs Carter-Morley and were very sad to hear that Ozzy has not yet been found.
“We have apologised to Mrs Carter-Morley and are continuing to speak to her to see how we can support.”
Anyone who has any information about Ozzy is asked to contact 01403 700464