Black cat Winston disappeared after his owner Jan, 56, moved in with her new husband Peter Barnes, 65, in 2002.
The Mirror reports that initially, the adventurous feline would go off for a few days then return fatter than before but eventually left and failed to return.
Peter and Jan had long given up hope of ever seeing Winston again – but were stunned when a vet called to say he had been found just before Christmas.
He was seen staggering in the road in Launceston, Cornwall, 35 miles from the family home in Carlyon Bay.
Winston has now been returned to the family home but Peter said they have no idea where he has been all these years.
He said: “The children were sad he was gone and would make a fuss of him when he came back, but he’s a very aloof cat and I don’t think he liked too much fuss.
“He was found in Launceston by some customers of Castle Veterinary Group, they found him staggering in the road and they stopped the traffic and took him to the vets.”
“The vet took him in, scanned him and gave us a call. You get strange phone calls and I thought, ‘this can’t possibly be’. But when they said the cat is Winston, how could they possibly know?”
“Because he was a rescue from the RSPCA he was chipped but we would have got him chipped anyway. It saved this cats life, because if there hadn’t been any thing he would have been euthanized because of how bad he looked.”
Peter, a retired printer, believes the cat may have left because he couldn’t settle after moving house. The older Winston returned in a bad state, and the Barnes’ had to pay a costly vet bill to get him back.
Peter added: “He’s a house cat now because he’s so frail, I think this is palliative care. It’s cost us a bit to get him back, my wife has a bigger heart than I do wallet. It was about £50 to get him back and we have vet fees this end, it’s about £100 so far and may go up.”
(Story source: Daily Mail)