A calico cat named Willow that wandered off from a Colorado home five years ago has been found on a Manhattan street.
How she got to New York, more than 1,600 miles away, and the kind of life she lived in the city are mysteries.
But thanks to a microchip implanted when she was a kitten, Willow, 6, will be reunited with her long-ago owners, who live in Boulder.
"To be honest, there are tons of coyotes around here, and owls," said Jamie Squires. "She was just a little thing, five and a half pounds. We put out the 'Lost Cat' posters and the Craigslist thing, but we actually thought she'd been eaten by coyotes."
Squires and her husband, Chris, were "shocked and astounded" when they got a call Saturday from Animal Care & Control, which runs New York City's animal rescue and shelter system.
Willow had been found on East 20th Street by a man who took her to a shelter.
"My husband said, 'Don't say anything to the kids yet. We have to make sure,'" Squires said. "But then we saw the picture, and it was Willow. It's been so long."
Julie Bank, executive director of Animal Care & Control, which handles the city's animal rescues and shelters, says Willow is healthy and probably has not been living on the streets for very long.
“No one knows how the cat made her way from Colorado to New York City, but we are happy she is safe and will soon be back with her owners,” said Bank. “This miracle story underscores the importance of having some sort of identification on your pet and the effectiveness of a microchip.”
Animal Care & Control says all animals are scanned for a microchip when they enter an ACC shelter.
The Squires children are 17, 10 and 3 years old, so the older two remember Willow, Squires said. As for the 3-year-old, "She saw the photo and said, 'She's a pretty cat.'"
The family also has a yellow Labrador named Roscoe, and an English mastiff named Zoe.
Squires said Willow escaped in late 2006 or early 2007 when contractors left a door open during a home renovation.
Since then, the family had moved about 10 miles from Broomfield to Boulder, but it kept its address current with the microchip company.
Squires seemed a bit worried about a possible New York state of mind.
"I don't know what kind of life she's had, so I don't know what her personality will be like," she said. When Willow disappeared, she said, "She was a really cool cat, really sweet."
The ACC and the Squireses were trying to arrange for transportation back to Colorado and health certificates and said it might be two weeks before the reunion. Willow may spend some time with a foster family in New York.
"The kids can't wait to see her," Squires said. "And we still have her little Christmas stocking."