When Norheim, 26, was a teenager, he and his cat – Ernst – were practically best friends, he told public broadcaster SVT which first reported on the strange tale*.
“I have always wondered what happened to him when he one day suddenly did not come home,” he said, adding that eventually he just assumed the pet had died in an accident.
Norheim moved to Norway, got a driving licence, girlfriend and children, writes SVT.
Last year he moved back to Skellefteå and last week the town's animal shelter called. They had found a homeless cat whose microchip details matched Ernst's – did he want his pet back?
“I laughed and cried at the same time when they called. Everything was upside down and I was completely sure they had dialled the wrong number – it obviously sounded totally impossible that Ernst would have returned after nine years,” said Norheim.
As it turns out, Ernst never went far. He had been staying with an elderly couple in a village outside of Skellefteå and when they died he was brought to the animal shelter.
The cat has now moved back in with Norheim, his partner and two-year-old son.
“I was a little bit nervous at first, wondered if it was really him and if he would recognize me,” said Norheim. “But as soon as I saw him I was sure, he looked exactly the same as nine years ago.”
This still does not beat The Local's favourite cat story, which was when Glitter the cat ran away from his family in Bromölla, Sweden, and turned up in southern France some 1,700 kilometres from home.
*We intentionally avoided a tail/tale pun above. You're welcome.