Holly, a tortoise-shell cat, became separated from her family while on an RV trip in Daytona Beach, Fla. After two months and a 200-mile journey, emaciated with raw paws, she managed to find her way to her person in West Palm Beach.
Tracy Staedter reports for Discovery News, Jan. 24, 2013, that the 4-year-old indoor cat is owned by Jacob Richter, 70, and Bonnie Richter, 63, who began traveling around in an R.V. with Holly last year. During a vacation this past November to Daytona, the cat dashed out an opened door. The Richters called local animal agencies and posted fliers, but Holly never turned up. They returned home. Two weeks later, an animal rescue worker called the Richters to tell them that a cat resembling Holly had been seen in Daytona.
And then nearly two months later, on New Year’s Eve, a woman who lived about a mile away from the Richters found an underweight, dehydrated and weakened cat in her backyard who could barely meow. The woman, Barb Mazzola, and her children fed and cared for the cat for six days, finally coaxing it into the house. Mazzola took the cat to a vet, who scanned it for an implanted microchip. Indeed, there was a chip, which led directly back to the Richters.
Barbara Marshall reports for the Palm Beach Post, Jan. 28, 2013, that Jacob Richter, a retired airline mechanic, had found Holly as an injured kitten on the street on Christmas Eve four years ago. Holly’s mother had apparently crawled into an air conditioner to give birth, not knowing the fan would come on when the weather warmed.
A few times in the past, Holly had escaped from the Richters’ mobile home, spending her freedom crouched under the rose bushes, lying in wait for lizards. But she always came back in.
Holly had always come along on RV trips. Last November, the Richters went to an RV rally in Daytona Beach. Holly had sat near Jacob while he drove. Hundreds of vehicles were parked in the infield of the Daytona 500 Speedway.
On November 4, Holly zipped out when the RV’s door was opened and immediately was swallowed by the motor homes and thousands of people.
Other campers pulled out, but Holly didn’t return the next day, or the day after. Jacob and Bonnie put up signs, left their phone numbers with the speedway’s maintenance crew and sent notices to area vet offices.
Jacob was disconsolate.
Fortunately, Holly had a microchip. When kind-hearted Barb Mazzola brought the emaciated cat she had found to Paws2Help Animal Clinic, the vet, Dr. Sarah Bet, found Holly’s microchip.
And that’s how Holly was reunited with Jacob.
When Jacob came to Mazzola’s home, Holly “gave this big sigh and just sank into his arms,” said Mazzola.
Holly had been gone 63 days and lost half her body weight. Dr. Beg said the cat “was severely dehydrated and emaciated. Also, her paws were worn down and very raw, with the hind limbs worse than the fore limbs. It was indicative that she’d walked a long way. If she’d been on her own much longer, she wouldn’t have made it.”
Jacob thinks Holly followed I-95 south, staying in the woods along the road. “Who knows how many of her nine lives she used up along the way?” he wonders.
How could a cat navigate those 200 miles from Daytona Beach? How could the bond between a cat and a human be so strong she risked her life to get to Jacob? And is that really what happened?
No one really knows, said Dr. Beg: “It’s nothing we studied in vet school, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s intuition, scents or following the sun, there’s no consensus of how or why they can do that.”
Jacob believes this: “I was rewarded for my love for that stray cat. I got her back.”
H/t FoTM’s Joseph