AN elderly widow has appealed to neighbour's to stop caring for her cat.

Holly Murphy, 80, has been left distraught after her 18-year-old moggy Thomas twice disappeared for days on end.

Both times Thomas, who is micro-chipped, returned home to George Street, Taunton, without his normal collar and with a new one on.

Thomas has lived with Mrs Murphy and her family for 16 years and is "much loved, much cuddled, much fed and much needed".

She said: "Recently, Thomas has disappeared for days on end, returning with someone else’s collar on his neck.

"I was heartbroken to think he was gone and so happy when he came home.

"More than that, he was so happy to be home. He purred and cuddled, and ate, and loved. To repeat, Thomas is a much loved, owned cat."

Mrs Murphy assumed that whoever put the collar on her pet might have believed he was a stray, so she put her own collar on Thomas with her phone number.

She said: "This has since been removed, and someone has replaced it with their collar and a bell."

She described the situation as "extremely distressing and also wrong".

Mrs Murphy added: "Please, if you have been taking in this cat, or feeding him – even if well-intentioned – please, do not do so.

"Please leave him to his own family, who love him, and who need him.

"Thomas is an old boy, now. Please let him live out the last of his years in his own home."