Has the Curious Case of Willow the Cross-Country Cat Been Solved?

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Bebeto Matthews / AP

Willow sits in a cage at her temporary home on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, in New York's Animal Care and Control facility.

Cast aside all fanciful, homespun stories of the 6-year-old calico pawing her way across the country or stowing away on a truck or train. The solution could be much simpler.

Willow may have been brought to New York on a plane from Colorado, according to a tipster who wrote into Gothamist Friday. The tipster explains Willow’s keeper fell in love with the (then-young) cat while on a ski trip in Colorado.

Indeed, the story reads like a quaint romance novel. Unable to leave her with no caregiver in sight, the finder decides to bring Willow back east. After clearing the cat with a vet prior to flying, the still-anonymous keeper wanted to make sure he or she wasn’t stealing someone else’s cat.

The tipster – who explains he or she merely cat-sat and was not Willow’s New York owner – says none of the cat’s prior history came up during the vet visit. Even though Willow was microchipped, which should have revealed her true owners’ details, as the story goes, such information was not uncovered.

(READ: Missing Cat Turns Up in Manhattan)

Rescued from the Colorado streets and allegedly brought back to cushy Brooklyn, the cat seemed to be cared for quite well – until she turned up last week, wandering on East 20th Street in Manhattan. A good Samaritan brought Willow to an animal shelter, where her five-year, thousand-mile journey was revealed.

Willow’s former owners were shocked when their cat was found, 1,800 miles away from her former home in the Denver suburb of Broomfield. The Squires family said Willow ran away five years ago when a contractor left the door open during a renovation.

But it was good news on Wednesday: the found cat most certainly was theirs, as the microchip displayed their details this time. Shocked that the cat was alive, healthy and, most astoundingly, so far from home, questions arose about how she managed to make it such a distance. That’s where Gothamist’s anonymous tipster helps to connect the dots.

The story is certainly quaint, but does it reveal the whole truth? NewsFeed is ever the cynic, knowing how many people are looking to cash in on this bit of good news.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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