The Robinson family said goodbye to their beloved cat Willow during an emotional memorial service, burying what they believed to be the feline's remains under a tree in their backyard garden.
Jonny and Caterina Robinson watched as their sons Josh, 7, and Buddy, 4, sobbed over their 18-month-old male cat, which disappeared during the height of Storm Emma, a fierce winter storm that pounded the U.K. with rain and snow toward the end of February.
"Jonny was absolutely distraught when we lost Willow, he was absolutely devastated," Caterina told SWNS. "I hadn’t seen him cry for a long time."
The boys were equally upset about their pet. They both skipped a day of school to mourn the animal.
Willow went missing in its hometown of Herefordshire, England on February 26 -- when the paths of a cold spell dubbed the "The Beast from the East" and Storm Emma crossed, bringing particularly brutal weather. Forecasters say parts of Britain felt colder than the Arctic Circle because of low temperatures and high winds brought by the storm.
But that didn't stop the family from searching for the furry family member, posting "missing" posters on every available tree in their neighborhood. But days went by and no one ever responded to their posters. Willow was nowhere in sight.
Then one day, on March 8, while Jonny was out on another search and rescue mission, the father of two spotted a furry, grey lump in the middle of a busy road. As he approached the animal, his worst fear was confirmed: Willow was dead.
"We just assumed it was [her]," Caterina said. "The fact our cat hadn’t come home and the body of the cat was outside our house, you put two and two together."
The pair decided to hold a ceremony to give their sons some closure.
"After we buried him my husband was so upset, he said, ‘I need you to keep hoping it wasn’t the cat,'" Caterina said, explaining that her husband still had some doubts it was their family's cat.
He continued leaving cat food out just in case Willow was still alive.
"One day, we noticed it had been eaten," she told SWNS.
Two days after the memorial service, Jonny ran inside the house holding the grey and white striped cat in his arms. He explained that he found Willow sitting outside the family's coal shed.
At that moment, the parents looked at each other, realizing they had buried the wrong cat. Regardless, they were relieved.
"It’s amazing but we obviously have someone else’s cat buried in our garden," Caterina said. "We can at least say that they had a nice burial."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.