Sasha the black longhair cat was missing for five years but flew home on Tuesday and was reunited with its family after an animal services officer found the pet on the streets of Santa Fe.
American Airlines offered to fly the feline back to Portland, accompanied by a Santa Fe Animal Shelter worker. Owner Viktor Usov was there at the airport waiting to greet his long-lost friend.
Usov said he never thought he’d see his cat ever again.
“I let him out one night, and he never came home,” he told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “That was five years ago. I just thought a coyote got him, which was sad to think about.
“When I got the call, I was ecstatic but I was not that surprised. This cat loves adventure.”
Unfortunately, being a cat, Sasha isn’t able to recount the details of the travels that took him across state lines, but it must have been quite a journey.
The trek from his Portland home to the New Mexican capital is about 2,200 kilometres. The walk would take a human around 466 hours through Nevada, and possibly Utah, depending on the route.
Luckily, Sasha was microchipped, so officials were able to identify who his owner was when they scanned the cat.
Usov said his cat is very friendly and possibly hitchhiked with a traveller.
“I guess I wanna think he was on a great American adventure,” he told a local broadcast station.
The animal shelter’s public relations officer, Murad Kirdar, said microchipping is the only permanent, irremovable way to identify a lost animal.
“In this case, Sasha’s family hasn’t moved or changed numbers,” Kidar said. “We are lucky this story has a positive outcome.
“We’ve heard numerous stories about cats inside the trunk of a car or getting on a train,” he told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “How exactly he got from Portland to here, though — that’s anyone’s guess.”
The New Mexican humane society and shelter that aided in the reunion shared live video updates of Sasha’s return home.
“If it wasn’t for the cat’s microchip, we would have never been able to reunite them,” the organization captioned the video.
Curtis Blessing, spokesperson for American Airlines, said: “At American Airlines, our business is about caring for people on life’s journey and connecting them with their loved ones.
“When we heard Sasha had been found so far from home, we were honoured to be in a position to get her back to her family.”
Usov told a local publication that Sasha and his Labradoodle, Tara, used to share a bowl when they were young.
He hopes Tara will remember her sibling all these years later.