By Cade Guerrero
After five years of being away from home, Sasha the black cat has resurfaced in Santa Fe. The cat traveled from Portland after sneaking out of the house, and apparently traveled over 1,200 miles to New Mexico. For the moment, Sasha lives at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter after someone picked the cat up roaming the city streets. The animal is soon on its way home.
The cat's original owner is Portland resident Viktor Usov, who reported the cat missing years ago. The shelter tracked Usov down using a microchip. The shelter's public relations officer, Murad Kirdar, was astonished the cat made it this far.
"Cats are notorious for jumping U-Hauls, trains and cars. Somehow it hitched a ride and ended up here," Kirdar says. "How [he] managed to survive to get here is the million dollar question. I can tell you [he] hasn't missed a meal."
Shelter staff identified the cat by a microchip that was inserted under her skin at adoption. Data stored on the chip includes information to link the owner with the animal.
"It's big as a grain of rice, embedded into their shoulder blades and it's the only permanent item that will link an animal back to its guardian," Kirdar explains. "But it's only as good if the owner updates it, such as changing their phone number or if they recently moved."
Kirdar and Sasha fly out today from Santa Fe, thanks to help from American Airlines, which offered to help return the animal home for free. Kirdar says he has bonded with Sasha, though, and plans to keep in touch.
"It will be very interesting to have her on the plane," Kirdar laughs. "We always try to keep in contact with the adopted and their owners who have great stories. People send us updates, so Viktor sent us pictures of when Sasha was just a kitten from six years ago."
Kirdar has seen dogs who have traveled from Albuquerque that end up at the shelter, but never a cat that traveled this far. Usov plans to meet them at the airport in Portland.
This article was originally published by Willamette Week's sister paper, The Sante Fe Reporter.