The New York Times blog “Well,” reports the improbable journey of a lost cat named Holly from Daytona Beach – where she ran away from her owner’s RV – back to her old neighborhood in West Palm Beach. She traveled 200 miles in two months.
Holly was found about a mile from her home, weak, emaciated, and with bleeding paws, rescued, and ultimately returned to her owners.
Holly and her owners recognized one another immediately, but confirmation was provided because Holly had an implanted microchip to identify her.
Given the wear on her paw pads and claws, animal behaviorists believe Holly walked the entire way home.
“I really believe these stories, but they’re just hard to explain,” said a behavioral ecologist at the University of Colorado who was interviewed by the New York Times. “Maybe being street-smart, maybe reading animal cues, maybe being able to read cars, maybe being a good hunter. I have no data for this,” he added.
My 18-year-old cat Saffron was found three miles from home. But instead of two months, he was gone for six years. If he had not been found by a Good Samaritan and taken to her vet who scanned for a microchip, he would never have been returned to me. Many pet owners now microchip their furry friends, but thankfully few ever have to test the usefulness of the practice.
Our story is proof that microchips work. Before I moved from Walnut Creek to Oakland, I had microchips implanted in both my cats. It’s a simple, inexpensive procedure. Now that Saffron is home again, I’m glad I did. Too bad I didn’t have a video camera on his collar. The Times also reports on studies done using Kitty Cams to follow roving cats.
“New research by the National Geographic and University of Georgia’s Kitty Cams Project, using video footage from 55 pet cats wearing video cameras on their collars, suggests cat behavior is exceedingly complex,” reports The Times.
Apparently some cats routinely two-time their owners, seeking food and affection elsewhere. In fact, that may have been how Saffron’s adventure began when he was a lean and mean 12-year-old.
If only he could talk. Whatever happened to him, he shows signs of wear and tear – the skin on his paw pads is almost entirely worn away, he limps, and despite regular doses of immune boosting supplements, has a constant eye infection.
But his coat is now glossy, he’s gaining weight, and his thyroid condition is under control. Most important, he is loved and cared for – and harassed every day by the ever-playful Odie, my other orange tabby. It’s a far better life.
How and why cats come back remains a mystery.
“We haven’t the slightest idea how they do this,” one scientist quoted by the Times said. “Anybody who says they do is lying, and, if you find it, please God, tell me what it is.”