EDITOR’S NOTE: At the end of each year, the Daily Times-Call updates readers with its “Where Are They Now” series, which revisits notable area newsmakers and finds out how they’re faring. Through Tuesday, Times-Call staff writers will bring you stories and vignettes about people, animals and even a Pluto-bound spacecraft featured on our pages over the past year.
LONGMONT — Neo the calico is well-traveled for a house cat. The peripatetic pet arrived in Longmont via a Golden Van Lines moving van in October, according to a Daily Times-Call article. He was an accidental stowaway on a five-day, 927-mile trip from his home in Crowley, Texas, to Longmont, where he spent a few days as a temporary ward of the moving company.
Employees doted on Neo lavishly during his stay, buying cat food, a rug, a litter box and even a night light.
And he returned home to Texas on a plane, a step up from the back of a moving van.
“Neo is a nice cat — clean, polite — and was not a demanding visitor,” Golden Van Lines vice president Mike McCarthy said. “He was not real excited about the trip to (Denver International Airport) and did a lot a hissing ... from inside the cage.”
His driver “assured him that his travel, while not first-class, would be comfortable,” McCarthy recalled. “Neo voiced his displeasure, because the flight to Texas did not have food service.”
Sonja Gaines, Neo’s owner, said her cat’s misadventure has made him a local celebrity.
“He was interviewed by (a local television station) and the local newspaper,” she said in an e-mail interview. “I was in my dentist’s office today, and several folks knew of Neo’s adventure. People at our jobs and my kids’ school have e-mailed the story all over. Most think it is very funny.”
McCarthy said the company even received a phone call from a Vermont woman who wanted to know if she could adopt the cat if the owners did not want to recover him.
Gaines said the family first noticed Neo was missing when he didn’t follow his normal routine of running to the door as her husband leaves for work at 7 a.m. They looked for Neo for several days, asking neighbors if they had seen him.
“He is affectionate to immediate family and familiar neighbors, but quite distant to most strangers,” she said. “He loves to go outside at night and chase mice in the acreage near our country home.”
When the family heard from neighbors that the Longmont moving company had a mystery cat onboard, they “suspected it was Neo, because he loves to get in parked vehicles and explore.”
“We were all absolutely thrilled to know it was him and that he was safe,” Gaines said, adding that the family has owned Neo since he was a kitten in 2002. “Neo is like a family member, and his disappearance was devastating to us.”
Gaines said her family is now more aware of trucks in the area that Neo might investigate.
“It’s a story with a happy ending and one that many people have commented on,” McCarthy said. “In today’s busy world, we sometimes forget how much animals mean to our lives and the joy they bring to us. Maybe we can all take a little lesson from our four-legged friends and become kinder and gentler to our fellow man.”
Melanie M. Sidwell can be reached at 303-684-5274, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.