A CAT has vanished after it was returned to the wrong owners after a stay in a Christchurch cattery.

Tadeu Vaccari checked his two-year-old indoor tabby/Bengal Gordo into the cattery for 20 nights while he and his wife went on holiday to Brazil.

However, just a week into his break, he was contacted by the owners of the business to say Gordo had been given to the wrong family.

The family had let Gordo out into their garden. The pet has since disappeared.

Mr Vaccari said the mistake happened as Gordo is 'identical' to cat Oscar. He has searched the two miles between his home in Boscombe and Iford Lane, where Bruce disappeared, every day since returning him his holiday on Sunday, April 21.

"There's been no sign of him so far. I've been advised to leave a trail with our scent to help him find his way home," he said.

"We've had Gordo for two years. We got him as a kitten. Normally when we go away we ask friends to look after him, but as we were away for 20 days this time we thought a cattery would be best. The Christchurch Cattery looked good and the cages were nice and clean.

"They contacted us halfway through our holiday to tell us our cat had been given to the wrong family and was now missing. They've not been very apologetic, and we don't feel they've made much effort to help us find our cat.

"At the moment I'm just focussed on finding my cat, but it's a very strange situation. Apparently a relative of the other family picked up the cat so they didn't realise it was the wrong cat. It wasn't until he was let out into the garden they realised their mistake. But he was gone by then."

Mr Vaccari said his Facebook appeal to help find Gordo had already been shared widely, but he is still appealing to anyone who spots Gordo to contact him on 07895649801.

Gordo, who also answers to the names Gato or Bruce, has stripes on his legs and tail only. He is "super docile", Mr Vaccari said. "I hope someone will see him. If anyone does spot him contact me and I will be over straight away," he said.

"You never realise how important your pet is until they go missing."

Dawn Pennock, who runs Christchurch Cattery, has been contacted for comment.

A letter from the cattery sent to Mr Vaccari, and seen by the Daily Echo, says: "This should not have happened, however my daughter was deputising for me whilst I was attending an appointment. I was out for two hours and the owners’ relative arrived unexpectedly three hours early. When they went into cattery he went to [Gordo's] pen and put him in his carrier and removed him from the cattery.

"After they had left my daughter realised what had happened within minutes and started trying to contact the person, when she eventually made contact [Gordo] had already been released in the garden of the owners’ property.

"I know all of this is going to be shock to you and your family, but you may be able to take some comfort knowing that because [Gordo] is chipped 80-85% of lost cats are eventually reunited with their owners." The cattery said they had put posters up and dropped notes through letterboxes in the area Gordo was released, and had been regularly driving and walking around the area looking for him before Mr Vaccari's return.