Back in November, Jacob and Bonnie Richter brought Holly, their 4-year-old tortoiseshell cat, on their vacation to Daytona, Fla. The couple, who live in West Palm Beach, told ABC local affiliate WPBF TV that the cat became afraid of some fireworks going off near their motor home and ran out the door. The Richters spent days handing out flyers and working with local authorities to find Holly but eventually had to leave without her.
Holly had been gone for more than 60 days when Barb Mazolla, who lives near the Richters in Palm Beach, saw an emaciated cat wander into her yard. Mazolla told WPBF that Holly was so weak that she couldn't even get a meow out. Mazolla took Holly to the vet, where she was scanned for a microchip and reunited with her owners.
Marty Becker, a veterinarian, told ABC News that Holly's 190-mile trek and successful reunion with her owners is not typical.
“All animals have a sense of direction, but it’s really unusual for cats to find a way home over long distances,” he said. “I think this is somewhat of a miracle.”
Still, several house pets are known to have demonstrated an uncanny ability to survive and find their way home after being lost. Back in April, a cat named Horace stunned his owner -- and later the local animal hospital -- when he walked in the door on two broken legs after 18 days of being gone.
In 2008, after a car accident, an Airedale terrier named Max ran out of his owner's convertible about 45 miles from home. Three weeks later, the owner said he came home to find Max sitting in the back yard.
And in 2002, a cat named Skittles disappeared while vacationing with his owners in Wisconsin. The cat reappeared back at the family's Minnesota home 140 days and 350 miles later.
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor of animal behavior, argued in an article for PetPlace.com that dogs and cats do have some mental mapping abilities.
"Their wild relatives had to run all over the place in search of food and had to find their way back. A lost dog was a dead dog. So, finding the way home had survival value for dogs, and those with the greatest talent in this respect would have the best chance of survival: Their genes would have been passed on," Dodman wrote.