It's a heart-breaking experience for pet owners who search in vain but never find their missing furry friends.

But a Costessey woman has proven people should never give up hope after she was reunited with her cat - five years later.

Kimberley Cartledge said she couldn't believe it when she opened her inbox to see a photo of her long-gone cat Fudge.

The kitty had been taken into the care of Feline Care Cat Rescue after it was found at Snetterton Services on Saturday, October 22.

Kimberley said: "On Sunday morning someone had shared the rescue's post with me and straight away I knew it was Fudge - she has a distinctive little moustache.

"I was in complete shock. You don't often hear of cats being found after such a long time."

The 33-year-old had owned Fudge for six years before moving into a new home where Fudge struggled to settle.

Soon Fudge - a notorious escape artist - had done a runner.

Despite their desperate efforts, the cat was nowhere to be found and Kimberley had since carried feelings of "guilt" and "sadness" wondering what had happened to her.

She added: "I used to lay at night thinking about what had happened to her. It was a horrible feeling."

But after receiving the alert she was certain the cat was missing Fudge and Kimberley got in contact with the rescue team.

At the "emotional" reunion, Feline Care Cat Rescue founder Molly Farrar said it was clear that Fudge recognised her once owner.

Kimberley, who is now also mother to a three year old, added: "When she came in, there was a cloth was over her cage but I heard her meow and I recognised it.

"I didn't know if she would recognise me but she came straight over for a stroke - even though she can be quite shy.

"It was really emotional and I did have a cry. I keep looking at her in my house and I still can't believe it. Miracles really do happen."

As Fudge was found in relatively good health, Ms Farrar believes the cat was being cared for.

She has reminded cat owners to get their felines microchipped so they are not mistaken as strays.