Kevin the cross-country cat is finally home.
The traveling tabby was reunited with his owners in South Carolina a year and a half after they last saw him. He had made it all the way to California, where an agriculture inspector discovered him after hearing muffled meowing coming from a U-Haul crossing from Arizona.
Touched by the journey, two nonprofits booked him a ticket home. On Wednesday night, Kevin landed at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport — his nine lives intact and his frequent-flier mileage a little fatter.
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“I thought he was gone forever,” his owner, Cheryl Walls, told NBC affiliate WYFF.
Walls, who lives in Anderson, South Carolina, adopted the cat in June 2013. He was an indoor cat but acted unhappy, she said, and she began letting him outside. One day that fall, motivated by curiosity or simple wanderlust, he left and never came back.
Kevin turned up more than a year later and thousands of miles away. The bewildered U-Haul driver said she had no idea where the cat came from. The inspector took him to a shelter in Blythe, California, which used an embedded tracking chip to find the owners.
Kevin had a meandering journey home that anyone who has taken a California vacation can relate to: There were layovers in Denver and Chicago. Cramped quarters, too: He had to make the trip in a cat carrier.
At the airport in South Carolina, Walls hoisted him and said: “Oh, my goodness, Kevin! You’ve gotten so big!”
“I mean, after that long,” she told the station, “I didn’t think there’d be no chance we’d see him again.”
— Erin McClam