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Willow the cat took a plane to New York, says tipster

Bebeto Matthews / AP

Willow, the 6-year calico cat that went missing from her Colorado home during a renovation 5 years ago, will soon be reunited with her owners.

For nearly a week now, the world has been wondering: How on earth did Willow the cat, who went missing five years ago, get from Colorado to New York City -- a journey of almost 1,800 miles -- and turn up on a city street looking well-fed and healthy?

Well, there may be an answer. An anonymous tipster with a photo of a kitty that looks remarkably like Willow claimed to the blog Gothamist to have been one of Willow's NYC catsitters for a few months. According to the account, Willow was picked up as a stray in Colorado and brought, via plane, to a loving home in New York City.

Here's the story, from the tip sent in to Gothamist:

I had Willow (aka Molly) for 3 months, while her NY owner was away for work. 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. She was brought to the shelter by someone who loved her very much, but was unable to give her all the time and attention she deserves.

I'm sure her Colorado family knows how extraordinary she is, and I am so thrilled she's able to go home.

Gothamist contacted Jamie Squires, Willow's original owner, who gave a big thank-you to whoever has been caring for Willow all this time.  

Many pet owners are grateful, too: Willow's tale has inspired an uptick in pet microchips (read more here); the technology is how, eventually, Willow was identified as the calico who slipped out the door at the Squires' house during a home renovation five years ago. 

Read more:

Colorado cat, missing 5 years, is found on NYC street 
Cat found on NYC street, going home to Colorado
Bright lights, smart kitty: How cat got so far
Is their dog a lost cause? Internet cries, No!
Maltese dog missing a year after car crash returned home