By Shelby Brooks

Cougar in his younger years before he went missing in 2017.

A BELOVED pet cat that was missing for three years has had a remarkable reunion with his owners in Wonthaggi, before passing away peacefully a day later surrounded by his family.

Sixteen-year-old Cougar, a grey tabby, was found just a kilometre away from his owner’s home in Wonthaggi on Friday, June 5, by a lady whose kindness reunited the lost cat with his distraught owners.

Cougar was a Christmas present for Brigitte Girstun from husband Kevin in 2004, after Kevin adopted the stray cat from a shelter in Melbourne.

Ten weeks after the family relocated to Wonthaggi in 2017, Cougar went missing.

Cougar was shy at first when he returned to his Wonthaggi home after being missing for three years.

Unfortunately, countless Facebook posts and posters around town and in local cafés turned up no results for missing Cougar.

So, when the Girstuns had a missed call about Cougar last Friday, Brigitte couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“I just looked at him [Kevin] in shock, ‘What do you mean found?’

“My worry was if he has been found alive or not.”

Considering Cougar’s age and health, a council worker opened the shelter especially for the Girstuns on the weekend so they could be reunited.

“You’ve got these silly thoughts like, ‘Will he remember you?’

“I just sat there and he just purred his little heart out and kept crawling up onto my lap.”

It seems Cougar enjoyed bath time after living on the streets for three years.

Cougar finally made it home, to the delight of Brigitte and Kevin’s two children, Lachlan and Natalia. The kids, who were only four and six respectively when Cougar went missing, burst into tears when they heard the good news.

“He had aged and had some battle scars – if only he could tell us about his adventures,” Brigitte said.

“He didn’t stop purring and just wanted to be near someone in the family.”

Unfortunately, Cougar’s health declined and he passed away on Sunday.

“We are all so happy he got to spend his last days with his family with pats and in comfort and warmth,” Brigitte said.

“It’s mixed emotions because he was found but now he’s gone again.

“But having the closure now, we obviously don’t know what happened in the last three years, he can’t tell us, but it was nice to know he was with us.”