Derry dementia sufferer reunited with beloved cat that went missing
An elderly Londonderry widow who suffers from dementia has been reunited with her beloved cat Marley following a desperate appeal after the pet went missing.
Greta Taylor's health deteriorated rapidly after her "miracle lifeline" vanished on September 4, which led to her being admitted to hospital.
But the unexpected homecoming is now giving the 83-year-old the motivation she needs to get back on her feet. "He was like a gift from God - he kept her active and gave her a routine, which is important when you are on your own," Greta's daughter Annette Taylor said.
"His disappearance had a devastating impact on my mum's health, which was made worse because her short-term memory isn't great.
"She kept noticing that his food bowl wasn't there and asking why, so we had to tell her every two minutes that Marley was gone - it hit her like a ton of bricks each time we had to tell her the sad news."
The frightened feline was spotted by four pupils of Lisneal College who had seen 'Missing' posters the family had put up around the Waterside.
Jack Boyd, Jack Milligan, Sam Gibson and Amir Bounaja found the starving cat trapped inside decking just 50 yards from where he disappeared almost two weeks earlier.
"We couldn't believe it, he'd been surviving on rainwater and was very scared, but we were able to coax him out," Annette said. "He was so skinny that when we brought him home to mum she hardly recognised him."
Marley proved himself to be an important figure in Greta's life after he was rescued by the wife of the late broadcaster Gerry Anderson six years ago.
Marley and Greta found each after Christine handed the stricken kitty over to her family, who credit him with halting the progression of Greta's illness.
The relieved family have already noticed a remarkable turn-around in Greta since Marley was found.
"It was unbelievable to see the change in her attitude, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders," Annette said. The happy ending has also restored the family's "faith in teenagers".
"My mum has met them and personally thanked them - she told them that they are her new heroes," Annette added.