Holly, a four-year-old tortoiseshell cat was separated from her owners
Bonnie and Jacob Richter in Daytona Beach, Florida, in early November. Two months later, on New Year's Eve, Holly showed up in a backyard located about 1.6 kilometres away from the Richter’s home in West Palm Beach. Bonnie found Holly to be weak and malnourished, but happy to be back with her owners.
"The pads of her feet were bleeding," said Jacob. "Her paws were badly worn. The front nails were still very sharp, while the back ones were almost nonexistent."
Scientists consulted about the case are skeptical that a cat could have walked such a long distance and being able to successfully search and find the house of her owners’ relatives.
"Are you sure it's the same cat?" asked Dr. John Bradshaw
, an expert on the behaviour and welfare of domestic cats and dogs and their relationships with people, working at the Bristol Veterinary School, reports the New York Times
. "It could be a similar stray cat and people expecting to find it could be mentally prepared to believe it’s the same cat."
However, Jacob Richter had the cat micro chipped which along with Holly’s distinctive black-and-brown harlequin patterns made possible to confirm that the traveler was indeed Holly.
“I really believe these stories, but they’re just hard to explain,” said Dr. Marc Bekoff
, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “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.”