The mystery of Willow the cat, who escaped her Colorado home five years ago only to be discovered Wednesday 1,600 miles away in Manhattan, looks like it might be solved.
According to one account, it looks likely that Willow didn't make an epic reverse "Homeward Bound" journey. Nor did she burrow herself inside a Big Apple-bound car. The answer's much simpler, says one tipster who broke the news to Gothamist:
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.
The New York Times, however, gives paws to the tipster's claim:
The woman’s account leaves some questions unanswered. Officials at Animal Care and Control, which runs New York City’s animal shelters, have said that Willow was taken to the main shelter on 110th Street in Manhattan by a man who said he had found her on East 20th Street in Manhattan. 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.
Whatever the answer, Willow captured the city's imagination yesterday, prompting Mayor Bloomberg to say that Willow probably just really loved New York. And, as is the case with all missing animal stories in New York, somebody started a fictional Twitter feed for the cat. @WillowCatNYC describes herself as "a fabulous feline and former resident of Colorado who decided to high tail it to The Big Apple to make a name for [her]self! So far, so good! Meow."
Willow escaped the Squires household in Boulder when contractors left a door open during a house renovation, according to the Associated Press. Animal Care and Rescue workers in New York were able to identify the feline after scanning for a microchip the Squires had given Willow years earlier.
"All our pets are microchipped," Jamie Squires said. "If I could microchip my kids, I would."