A year-and-a-half after their cat Will disappeared, a family in P.E.I. was surprised to see their pet sitting in the yard waiting for them to come home.

"I didn't believe it was him," said owner Norma Moore-Dingwell. "When I realized it was, I cried."

She took Will in to see veterinarian David Lister at the New Perth Animal Hospital to have him checked out after his return.

"I think they had long thought they were never going to see Will again," Lister told Island Morning.

In good shape

Will was thin, had lost part of his ear — probably to frost bite — and had picked up some ear mites, but other than that, Lister said he was in very good shape.

"The condition of this fellow, he certainly hadn't been living in a home and probably hadn't really been in a barn where there was food," said Lister.

WilltheCat

Will disappeared from his home during a snowstorm, and survived two winters on his own. (New Perth Animal Hospital/Facebook)

"He'd just have to live on what he was catching, and he obviously caught enough to survive."

Will had disappeared during a snowstorm last winter, and Lister said those winter months would have been especially challenging.

Soaking up the love

But his time on the streets didn't harden Will.

WillTheCat

Will seemed happy to be back, and was soaking up the attention during his vet visit. (New Perth Animal Hospital/Facebook)

"He seemed quite friendly. He hadn't reverted back to being a feral cat," said Lister. "He was taking all the attention he could get — chin rubs and head rubs."

The cat doesn't always come back

"The cat came back" is a familiar refrain, but Lister said it's not very common to hear of cats returning — especially after that length of time.

"You do hear about them once in a while, but a year-and-a-half is getting to be a long time," he said.

With files from Island Morning