In the end, the most likely explanation proved true: The cat who showed up in a New York City animal shelter five years after she went missing in Colorado did not walk the 1,800-mile trek on paw. The notion that Willow (whose most recent owner named her Molly) had hiked or hitched to Gotham, Homeward Bound style, was too irresistible for most of us to let go of. But Gothamist got a tip from a reader that the cat made the journey in the most mundane way: on a plane after being picked up as a stray by a Brooklyner on vacation.
He fell in love with her on a ski trip when she was a stray in Colorado, and flew her back to Brooklyn, thinking she was too amazing to leave behind. She was vetted prior to flying, and none of her history came up. While in Brooklyn she was loved and very spoiled...she's had quite an adventure, but there's no great mystery behind her travels. Willow is a lovable cat who happens to fly well.
That's great. And though disappointing for fans of far-fetched adventure tales, it had to be something like that. The New York Times had already posited the most likely explanation as the cat being picked up by someone who later moved to New York. But perhaps the feel-good tale will now enter scandal territory: Gothamist commenters are calling for the head of the person who dropped the cat off at the shelter -- who the tipster described as "someone who loved her very much, but was unable to give her all the time and attention she deserves."