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An Achmore man who reunited a lost cat with its owners after it had lived rough for over a year is refusing credit for the rescue, insisting that he just did ‘what anybody with humanity should do’.

Weaver Billy Matheson spotted the scrawny, tick-ridden ginger tomcat on Monday evening (August 27th), wandering the moor near Achmore, and immediately recognised that it was a lost pet.

He told We Love Stornoway yesterday (Wednesday August 29th): “I know cats wander, but there’s no reason for a cat to be out there on the moor, four miles from the nearest house. I could tell he wasn’t feral, because he wouldn’t have come anywhere near me if he hadn’t been a pet at some time.”

After some cautious minutes tickling the cat behind the ears, Billy managed to get a firm grip on him and brought him home. “I got him in the car and he was not happy at all – obviously shocked and traumatised.

“I phoned Cats Protection, but they are full up with kittens and I decided that I wouldn’t burden them as they are already so overburdened. He wasn’t injured, just hungry and covered in fleas and ticks, so I thought since he probably did have an owner, I would keep hold of him and see if I could get the word out.”

The cat moved into Billy’s campervan where he scoffed a lot of food and water and settled down. Cats Protection shared his discovery on Facebook and, across the island in Coll, Calum Macleod took one look and jumped into their car.

Billy takes up the story. “All I said was that I was in Achmore, but Calum was quite the detective and turned up on my doorstep in the rain on Tuesday afternoon (August 28th) with photos on his phone.

“We went out to the van and we were both 99% certain it was his missing cat, but despite his excitement he wanted to be sure, so he came back that evening with Kathleen. The cat went straight to her and they were both so happy that I was pretty sure he was going home to the right place.”

Amazingly, ‘Saf’ the ginger cat is 10 years old and had been lost from his home in Coll for over a year.  No-one has any idea how he ended up in Achmore a year later, but he’s now back at home with his owners and with his brother.

Calum said: “Happy, happy day! Great to have our boy back after almost a year. Huge, huge thanks to Cats Protection- Isle of Lewis and Harris Branch and even huger thanks to Billy Matheson, a good soul with a big heart…kinda restores your faith in humanity (he's going to hate me saying that but it’s true).”

Billy’s not just earned the gratitude of Saf’s owners, but has been showered with praise and congratulations by island cat-lovers.  But he says: “I`d like to think it’s part of our civic duty not to simply walk past or ignore animals, cats or otherwise, in need of help.

“Hopefully, I was only doing what any of you would have done. The real debt of gratitude goes to all at Cats’ Protection, those who put in the hard graft in the face of constant adversity and against the odds to ensure that no cat is ignored or left behind to suffer. 

“In my eyes all the attention this story has got is a storm in a teacup over something that anyone should do. The litmus test for humanity is whether you would go out of your way to help an animal in distress. You can make a difference – even if it’s only a small one.”
Picture shows Saf on Tuesday evening, together with owner Calum Macleod and rescuer Billy Matheson.