Mystery of North Atlantic-Crossing Cat Solved

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There are countless incredible, heartwarming stories of lost pets being reunited with their families over hundreds of miles and even many months. But a cat found last week in Scotland seemed to defy explanation. A woman named Rosy Long found the cat, which she named Juanita, in her garage, trying to escape from the cold. She took it to a veterinarian who informed her that according to its identity tag, its owner lived not in Scotland, nor even on the British Isles, but in the Canary Islands, thousands of miles away off the coast of Africa.

According to a story in The Independent, ”A seemingly intrepid cat from the Canary Islands was found in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on Thursday, begging the question how many lives did the cat use to miraculously get across the ocean? The cat was found by a family in Muchalls, who contacted Cats Protection before taking it to the vet, according to the BBC. Using the cat’s identity chip, the vet traced it to the Spanish island of Fuerteventura, after it could not be found on the U.K. database.”

It’s one thing for a dog or cat to return home to its family crossing miles of fields, roads, and bridges on solid ground, but not even the bravest cat could swim from the Canary Islands to the United Kingdom, braving sharks, storms, bitterly cold waters and other mortal perils.

Did Juanita swim all the way,? Perhaps she somehow stowed away on a ship or plane off the islands. But this, too, beggars belief: even if she managed to somehow hitch an unnoticed ride to some nearby mainland city (and get off at Casablanca, Lisbon, Paris, or London, for example), she would still need to travel hundreds of miles. Unless, of course, she was catnapped…

As speculation swirled around the mystery, the feline refused to answer any questions about its apparently incredible journey and instead curled up for a nap.

Finally, last week, the baffling mystery was solved when the owner was located — not in the Canary Islands, but nearby in Scotland. The cat’s owner lived about fifteen miles away; it’s not clear whether the cat (actually named Tina) wandered that far or somehow hitched a ride there.

According to a follow-up story, “It emerged that her owner, Fiona Prati, lives in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, and had not updated the cat’s registration after emigrating to Scotland. She had feared the worst after Tina went missing last week but she finally got the good news after Cats Protection rang around local veterinary practices until someone recognised the name.”

There are countless “incredible but true” stories of beloved pets overcoming great odds to find their owners. But sometimes even those tales stretch credulity. And in this case, it was a relatively new technology that created the mystery in the first place; the microchips are designed to help reunite lost pets and their owners, but, like all technology it only works if you use it correctly.

Prati and her wayward tabby were reunited over the weekend, and the local animal protection society reminded pet owners everywhere to periodically update their pets’ microchip information.

Image: A cat goes for a wander. Credit: iStock