A couple who spent £6,000 rescuing a cat from Arab Spring violence have been left devastated – after the moggy ran away.
Railton and Dawn Elliott fell in love with “Omar” while on holiday in Egypt and decided to save him from the trouble sweeping the country by bringing him home to the UK.
They shelled out a fortune in quarantine and vets’ bills and the lucky cat settled into his new life at their home in rural Oxfordshire.
But Omar vanished two weeks ago – almost a year to the day after he left quarantine.
Dawn, 46, who runs a confectionary company with her husband, said: “We’re absolutely heartbroken.
“We’d give anything to have him back. He’s such a lovely and friendly creature.”
Railton added: “We were left with no option but to bring him home with us. I’ve had cats all my life and never known one to be so gentle, so loving and tender.”
The couple first met Omar as they bathed on a veranda outside their apartment in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna in February 2011.
Railton said: “It was clear that he was an abandoned, not feral, cat.
“He had sought refuge in a bush to the front of our villa and over the next few days we fed him three times a day with food we collected from the hotel buffet.
“We became great friends with our new chum whom we named Omar in homage to the great actor, Omar Sharif.”
At the time Egypt was sliding towards civil war as President Hosni Mubarak was being overthrown and the Elliotts believe Omar may have been abandoned as his owners fled.
Railton, 57, added: “People were leaving Egypt in droves at that time, and I think someone took the decision that if they were to leave their cat at the hotel, he might stand a chance of survival.”
Before leaving after their ten-day break they paid for Omar to be cared for at a local cattery while they sorted the paperwork to bring him home.
A month later Omar was loaded onto a plane and flown to Gatwick where he was collected by pet import specialists.
Omar spent the following six months in quarantine costing Railton and Dawn a whopping £2,000.
They made the 150 mile round-trip up to three times a week to visit him and were delighted when they were finally allowed to bring him home in September last year.
The remaining money was spent on food and vets’ bills, petrol to visit the cat, flights and taxis.
Railton said: “I left Dawn to sort out the finances — I didn’t care what it cost, I just wanted him home.
“He has loved his new surroundings here, particularly the fields and woods where he could roam to his heart’s content.”
Now the pair have launched a desperate appeal to find their beloved, offering a £25 reward and a lifetime’s supply of chocolate.