In November, Jacob and Bonnie Richter brought their cat, Holly, along on a road trip to the Daytona International Speedway, 190 miles from their home in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Spooked by fireworks one night, Holly bolted from the Richters’ motor home. For days, her frantic owners handed out flyers and alerted local agencies, before they finally headed home, distraught and without Holly.
The Richters got the shock of their lives when they got the call that Holly had been found, and only one mile from their home.
For Holly, an inside cat, to clock 190 miles by herself is nothing short of a miracle, said Marty Becker, a veterinarian.
Miracle? Not quite. While it’s unusual for pets to find their way home over such a long distance, it’s not unheard of and similar stories have been reported in the past.
The cat was found to be in OK shape, just skinnier than normal. I wonder if he was watching out the window to remember the route? I kid, but how she did it is not clear.
Video report on the story from Good Morning, America
UPDATE (20-Jan-2013) A more indepth story appeared in the NY Times
“I really believe these stories, but they’re just hard to explain,” said Marc Bekoff, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Colorado. “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.”
There is, in fact, little scientific dogma on cat navigation. Migratory animals like birds, turtles and insects have been studied more closely, and use magnetic fields, olfactory cues, or orientation by the sun.
Scientists say it is more common, although still rare, to hear of dogs returning home, perhaps suggesting, Dr. Bradshaw said, that they have inherited wolves’ ability to navigate using magnetic clues. But it’s also possible that dogs get taken on more family trips, and that lost dogs are more easily noticed or helped by people along the way.
Cats navigate well around familiar landscapes, memorizing locations by sight and smell, and easily figuring out shortcuts, Dr. Bradshaw said.
So it’s unclear how this cat managed her long trek but there are several possibilities. One factor was luck. But it appears she had some mad navigation skilz as well.
Tip: Kylie Sturgess