Mystery traveler at night.
Mystery traveler Willow at night. Image: AmberDeel/Flickr/CC BY

Willow the calico cat disappeared from Colorado five years ago and turned up 1,800 miles away on the streets of Manhattan earlier this month. The mystery of where she has been for the last five years may have been solved — partially at least — thanks to an anonymous tipster.

A Colorado cat in Manhattan

Willow the amiable calico developed a fair amount of buzz earlier this month when she was found on the streets of Manhattan and taken to an animal shelter. There she was identified through a microchip placed under her skin when she was a kitten. Turns out she belonged to the Squires family in Boulder, Colo. The cat had disappeared five years earlier when a construction worker left the door open.

A mystery may be solved

How she got the 1,800 miles to Manhattan has been a matter of some speculation. “Perhaps she hitched a ride, with or without permission, from a kindly driver going east from the Rocky Mountains,” The New York Times said.

However, we may now have at least some of the story.

According to an anonymous tip on the Gothamist blog site, Willow may have been taken home by a New Yorker on a Colorado ski trip who fell in love with Willow when she was AWOL from her family:

“I had Willow (aka Molly) for 3 months, while her NY owner was away for work. He fell in love with her on a ski trip when she was a stray in Colorado and flew her back to Brooklyn, thinking she was too amazing to leave behind. She was vetted prior to flying, and none of her history came up. While in Brooklyn she was loved and very spoiled … she’s had quite an adventure, but there’s no great mystery behind her travels. Willow is a lovable cat who happens to fly well. She was brought to the shelter by someone who loved her very much, but was unable to give her all the time and attention she deserves.”

Not the whole story

The New York times points out some logical errors in the account, however. The officials at Animal Care and Control in Manhattan reported that Willow was brought in by a man who found her on East 20th Street. “This means that either the person who adopted Willow in Colorado lied to the shelter about where he had found her, or Willow had at least one intermediate owner after him.”

Richard Gentles, a spokesman for Animal Care and Control, said:

“We’ve been trying to get in contact with the person who brought the cat in but have been unable to do so. The person that surrendered the cat said that she was a stray.”

Celebrity cat

In the meantime, while Willow waits for final details for her trip back home to her family in Colorado, she has become the toast of New York. Mayor Bloomberg has been quoted as saying Willow probably just loves New York, and she has bee given her own Twitter feed, @WillowCatNYC.

Willow makes travel plans

“The kids can’t wait to see her,” said Jamie Squires, mother of three and Willow’s original owner. “And we still have her little Christmas stocking.” Willow is scheduled to fly back to Colorado later this week.


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