No one knows how a cat got lost during a family trip. But they do know that she made it home without so much as a bus ticket. Doctors and scientists have no idea how Holly the cat made it all the way back to her home in West Palm Beach Florida. The cat’s owners, Jacob and Bonnie Richter, went to a rally in Daytona Beach on New Year’s Eve, only to be saddened that Holly had gotten lost in the mix.
The couple did have a microchip implanted in the cat to find her, but before they could, she made it all the way home. It is the chip that allowed them to track her trek back to the house.
“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.”
Scientists say that dogs are the ones most likely to be able to find their way home, not cats. But even with dogs, a walk this far is extremely rare. They say that cats can navigate with familiar landscapes and remember locations via sight and smell. They can also figure things out based on the direction of the smell.
“Let’s say they associate the smell of pine with wind coming from the north, so they move in a southerly direction,” Dr. Patrick Bateson said.
Scientists also say that cats exhibit complex behavior, like two-timing their owners and visiting the homes of others for food and affection. Maybe these little creatures have more going on than we might expect.