TAMPA — It has been a long, strange trip for Daisy Duck Bandit, but it's almost over.
The 2-year-old tabby cat went missing from his home in Michigan just before Halloween. Almost two months later, Bandit was found wandering the streets of Tampa, more than 1,100 miles away.
How he got to Tampa remains a mystery, but his future destination is not. He caught a flight home on Thursday.
"Our cat Daisy went missing shortly before Halloween. I checked the shelters and made some local postings, but our cat, Daisy/Bandit, ended up in Tampa Florida," wrote the cat's owner, Judy Sanborn, in a Gofundme campaign to bring him home. We don't know if he hitched a ride in a moving van or a snowbird took him down to Florida."
Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners spokesperson Curtis Krueger said a good Samaritan brought Bandit to its Tampa veterinary hospital in mid-December. She was out walking her dog when Bandit spotted them and followed them home. The woman called BluePearl and brought the cat in.
There, the veterinary staff discovered Bandit's microchip, which allowed them to track down the cat's owner. The Michigan area code didn't throw them off too much, Krueger said, since in Florida "everyone's got a cell phone from some place."
They called the Sanborns and told them where to pick Bandit up. Confused at the unfamiliar street names, they asked where the hospital was.
The answer: Tampa.
But how did the cat get there from Michigan? That's the mystery.
Krueger said the hospital has reunited a lot of pets and families, but not like this.
"This is unique," he said. "I can't remember us reuniting a pet from such a long distance with no real explanation behind it."
It's taken almost a month to figure out the logistics of getting Bandit back home. The Sanborns raised $575 in a GoFundMe to bring their cat back to Dearborn, Mich., but couldn't find a relative or friend traveling to Florida who could do it. BluePearl was able to connect the Sanborns with Stephanie Nay of Tampa's Bamboo Pet Sitting. Then Nay eventually secured a flight for Bandit with her friend, Dossie Marrone.
"It was definitely not a normal request," Nay said. "Weird to me is 'can you pet sit my tarantula?' not 'can you send my cat on a plane back home to Michigan?'"
Krueger said this story highlights the importance of owners microchipping pets and making sure their contact information is always up-to-date.
"We would've never have known where this cat was from if not for the micro chip," he said.
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at email@example.com. Follow @danuscripts.