Belfast couple spend £1,000 in frantic hunt for cat
Pet detective joins search as owners offer reward
A west Belfast couple have spent £1,000 in a desperate bid to find their beloved cat who went missing last month.
Michael McGrath (47) and fiancee Marta Larkin (36) have even taken out newspaper advertising as they try to ensure one-year-old Spencer is back home for Christmas and reunited with his brother Feidhlim.
Michael said that the couple were unable to have children and "these cats are our kids - we will do whatever it takes to get Spencer back".
"A lot of people think we are crazy for trying so hard to get him back but we really don't care, we're willing to do anything," he added.
The two cats were extremely ill when they were rescued around a year ago following the death of their mother.
"It was touch and go at the start, but they recovered well," Michael said.
"Marta and I are in a mixed relationship and we wanted their names to reflect that - they're very much cross-community cats."
Spencer was last seen on the Springfield Road close to where he disappeared on Friday, November 17.
"They are both home cats, but they go out in the garden a lot," Michael said. "We have an alleyway and unfortunately it was a bin day, so the gate was left open and he managed to get out.
"A member of the public tried to help him because he looked frightened, but that's when his collar became loose and he ran off without it."
The distraught couple have called in a pet detective from Dublin, printed more than 1,000 flyers and placed the newspaper ads as part of their search for Spencer. Michael, who works in digital marketing, has even launched a social media campaign - but he is becoming increasingly concerned.
Soon after Spencer was rescued it was discovered that he had some other health problems.
The timid tomcat had to undergo surgery on his eyelids, which were severely swollen.
"During the procedure the vet discovered that his tear ducts were blocked; he still suffers as a result, it causes a lot of gunk to build up around his eyes," Michael added.
"He won't cope out there on his own, he needs his eyes wiped every day, and the cold weather is an issue. You start to hear all sorts of horrible stories when this happens, so you can't help but worry."
The pet detective remains more optimistic. "He believes Spencer has been transported somewhere and is still alive, so we are determined to find him," Martin said.
He is offering a "substantial reward" for anyone who returns Spencer safe and sound.
He has appealed for anyone with information to contact him on 07712 247 616, day or night.