calico cat
This calico is a dead ringer for Willow, the wandering cat. Image: Philip James/Flickr/CC BY

Willow, a calico cat who went missing from Colorado five years ago, has been found on the streets of Manhattan. How she got more than 1,600 miles miles from home is a mystery, but she will soon be returned to her family.

Escaped during home renovation

Jamie Squires, of Colorado, the owner of the calico, said Willow escaped late in 2006 when, during a home renovation, a contractor left the door open. The family has since moved 10 miles from Broomfield to Denver. But fortunately they kept their information current with the the company that put a microchip under Willow’s skin when she was a kitten.

‘We couldn’t believe it’

Chris and Jamie Squires were “shocked and astounded” when they got a call Wednesday from Animal Care & Control in New York saying that Willow had been found on East 20th Street and taken to a shelter. “When we first heard the voice mail, we couldn’t believe it,” Squires said.

Importance of microchips for pets

Julie Bank, the Executive Director of the AC&C, said she found the Squire family through Willow’s microchip. “This miracle story underscores the importance of having some sort of identification on your pet and the effectiveness of a microchip,” said Banks.

‘Thought she’d been eaten by coyotes’

“To be honest, there are tons of coyotes around here, and owls,” Squires said.  “She was just a little thing, five and a half pounds. We put out the `Lost Cat’ posters and the Craigslist thing, but we actually thought she’d been eaten by coyotes.”

‘A pretty cat’

The Squires have three children, ages 17, 10 and 3. The two older kids remember Willow. When shown a picture, the youngest just said, “She’s a pretty cat.”

“The kids can’t wait to see her,” Squires said. “And we still have her little Christmas stocking.”

Changed by life on the mean streets?

Squires was concerned that her pet may have changed in the intervening years. “She was a really cool cat, really sweet. … I don’t know what kind of life she’s had, so I don’t know what her personality will be like.”

Willow now weighs a healthy seven pounds. According to the AC&C, she has a friendly disposition, suggesting she probably has not spent the last five years on the streets without human attention. But unless Willow learns to talk, it will remain only speculation.

A return trip

The Squires and the AC&C are trying to arrange for the necessary health certificates and transportation to get the animal back to Colorado. It may be a couple weeks before Willow is reunited with her family.


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