Cat Travels 200 Miles to Return to Owners and Baffle Scientists

Holly the cat's 200 mile journey to reunite with her owners has baffled scientists.

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When Holly the house cat turned up a mile from the West Palm Beach, Fla., home of her owners Jacob and Bonnie Richter, they were more than a little surprised to see her. After all, they had lost the cat two months ago and over 200 miles away at an RV rally in Daytona Beach. And yet here was Holly — suffering from sore paws and weight loss but definitively the same cat, according to the microchip implanted under her skin. While the Richters are thrilled to have their cat back, Holly’s journey has scientists completely baffled. “I really believe these stories, but they’re just hard to explain,” Marc Bekoff, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Colorado, told the New York Times. “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.”

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According to the Times, there is relatively little information available on the navigational skills of cats as the issue has not been avidly studied. While migratory animals like birds can take geographic clues from things lie magnetic fields, olfactory cues, or orientation of the sun, when it comes to cats, no one quite knows; there is little data available on the subject. “We haven’t the slightest idea how they do this,” Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist who hosts the show “My Cat From Hell” on the Animal Planet cable channel told the Times.  “Anybody who says they do is lying, and, if you find it, please God, tell me what it is.”

How Holly managed her incredible trek has so far remained a mystery. “It was quite a journey for this little girl,” owner Jacob Richter told a local television channel. “We just can’t believe she came home.”

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