A curious cat from Maine has quite the tale after spending a year on the lam.
Romeo, a 4-year-old gray tabby cat, was recently located in Skowhegan – more than 100 miles from his Kennebunkport home.
"It was such an odd experience, because we had written the cat off as dead,” said his owner, George Lichte.
Romeo has always been difficult to contain. He is often seen roaming around Kennebunkport, visiting shops, hotels, and even crashing weddings at the nearby Nonatum Resort. One time, Lichte got a call from the Secret Service: Romeo snuck into the Bush compound at Walker's Point.
"He's a very curious guy," said Lichte. "Romeo always seems to come back."
But one day last fall, Romeo never returned home. The days turned into weeks, and Lichte started to worry. He put up missing cat posters, but there was no sign of his feline.
"He's a survivor, but not through a Maine winter," he said. "I was so upset about losing this cat."
So imagine Lichte's surprise when, one year later, his wife got a phone call from Skowhegan – more than 100 miles north, about a two-hour drive away.
It was a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Clinic. Someone brought in a stray cat, and had it scanned for its microchip. It was Romeo.
"It was the opposite of death," said Licthe. "Was it re-birth? Was it resurrection? All of a sudden this cat who had been dead – was alive."
News of this remarkable reunion started to spread, and as more people recognized Romeo, they came forward to help fill in the details of this cat's year from home.
According to Lichte, Romeo was at a wedding at the Nonantum Resort. A wedding guest thought he could be a stray, so he brought him home to Unity, Maine, where he lived in a dorm. That wedding guest's roommate ended up caring for Romeo and taking him home after the semester. They lived off campus near Unity College for a while, until Romeo escaped from that home.
"I think if anybody takes Romeo in, he's going to find a way out," said Lichte.
Weeks later, someone on the Unity campus found Romeo and took him to the vet.
"It's a really helpful reminder that people should think about micro-chipping," said Dr. Amanda Bisol, who treated Romeo and helped arrange his reunion.
Romeo's story inspired her to hold a special micro-chipping event next month. At the Animal Medical Clinic in Skowhegan, pets can receive micro-chips with life-long registrations for just $25.
"I thought [Romeo's story] was a really cool story, and really exciting," said Dr. Bisol. "I wanted to do something because of it."